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Poetry: don’t think twice, it’s alright

7th February 2012

Songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen are inspiring a new generation of students to write poetry. And now a new poetry subject at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) will help these aspiring wordsmiths hone their craft.

The new unit will be required study for second-year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Creative and Professional Writing) students starting their degree from 2012.

Writing poetry will be offered initially as an elective to creative writing students in semester two.

Acclaimed poets and QUT academics Professor Philip Neilsen and associate lecturer Sarah Holland-Batt will guide students through the subject, teaching them the technique and craft of poetry such as haiku, song lyrics, prose poems and free verse.

"Poetry is more popular than ever in Australia, the US and Europe," Professor Neilsen said.

"A new generation of students is really interested in songwriters like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

"There's a close connection between song lyrics and poetry.

"Students want to learn the craft of their songwriting heroes and our survey has shown they are interested in writing all forms of poetry."

Professor Neilsen, from QUT's Faculty of Creative Industries, said writing poetry improved the language skills of all writers.

"A number of the best novelists in the world are also poets," he said.

"Writing poetry is about being precise, succinct and disciplined with language, which are important skills to develop in creative writing."

Professor Neilsen said students would be able to experiment with performance poetry and mixed media, combining visual texts with spoken words.

He said it was time to dispel the myth that poetry was written by lovelorn romantics wearing puffy shirts.

"This unit will heal the scars of doing poetry at school and show students there's nothing scary about writing poetry," Professor Neilsen said. "It's no harder than any other form of writing."

Professor Neilsen has published five books of poetry, most recently Without an Alibi through Salt Publishing. He is co-editing The Cambridge Companion to Creative Writing with University of Warwick Professor David Morley.

Ms Holland-Batt's debut collection, Aria, received numerous accolades, including the 2007 Thomas Shapcott Prize for Poetry and the Dorothy Hewett Fellowship for Poetry.

The Fulbright scholarship winner is completing a Master of Fine Arts in poetry at New York University.

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Media contact: Stephanie Harrington, media officer, 3138 1150,

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