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Regular news and insight from our many poets, writers, educators and facilitators

16 October 2023

Posted by Tabby Hayward

Space in Poetry

This week we were approaching the theme of space from a different angle again - using white space on the page in poetry.
We started by sharing favourite poets, from Carol Ann Duffy to Ocean Vuong, Robert Frost to Jackie Kay, and even Doctor Seuss!
Next we looked at an extract from Glyn Maxwell's excellent book 'On Poetry', where he talks about 'that ice plain, that dizzying light' in the white space on the page, and how the poet constructs a poem from black and white, text and page, both with equal parts in the creation of the poem. We discussed how we felt about this, whether we agreed or disagreed.
Next, we looked at an old challenge on Young Poets Network about using space in poetry, and focused on some example poems - Ocean Vuong's 'Aubade with Burning City', Emily Berry's 'Bad New Government' and some of the commended pieces by young people in the YPN challenge. Inspired by all this, the writers were encourage to either write a new poem or experiment with an existing poem of theirs, making use of white space on the page.
Here are some of the poems:

Untitled poem by David 

The red flag flying A tall Oak TreeNorth West Strong holds
South East majoritiesMoney for this Savings from thatOpposition
PowerLegacy CurrentFuture PastPast FutureHard Left
Extreme rightYounger OlderRed Blue

Whitespace by Reina

Far far far away

The more I said, the more I drove you away

I was so sure I was right. How could I be wrong? I’ve put up this fight,

but it was soon before


Before I held your hand. This house lost its home. You never picked up the phone. It just rang.

Ring ring ring ring

And I cried. I cried and cried until my eyes were dry

And there was snot on my face. And tissues around my feet.
Your picture on my phone,

my knees caved and I let

myself weep
I know now what I’ve lost now I’m standing

here lost.


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