ONLINE 5-week Short Course: Poetry for the New Year: History Often Rhymes (with Jo Bell, Jan 2023)

Join poet Jo Bell on a 5-week online short course, fresh for 2023, to help you find inspiration for your poetry through history.

‘History doesn’t repeat itself,’ said Mark Twain, ‘but it often rhymes’.

Drawing on history in our poems can help us to examine current affairs, colonialism or our own private lives. It can make polemic, humour or repeating forms more punchy. It can set love affairs or protests in context, and give your poems a richly textured sense of time and place.

Jo Bell, poet and historian, often uses history as a starting point to write about the present – comparing the Windrush scandal to a Roman legal case, or using the Renaissance artist Giotto as a voice of resistance. In this five-week course she will guide you through poems which use history to illustrate the present day. Learn how to give old stories new life – how to set your own life in the context of global, personal or eccentric histories – and how to keep the thread of poetry relevant, connecting one age to the next.

The course is intended for all writers, including those new to poetry and complete beginners.

The group will meet via Zoom online meeting software and will be hosted by Jo and a staff member at Writing West Midlands. The meeting link will be in your ticket confirmation once you book.



Jo Bell is an award-winning poet working across the UK with poetry talents from Ian McMillan to Brian Patten and Gwyneth Lewis. A performer, playwright, project manager, programmer, producer and a few things that don’t begin with P, Jo is former director of National Poetry Day, sometime programmer for Ledbury Poetry Festival and others, and occasional broadcaster.


Course dates:

Thursdays, starting 5 January 2023, then 12, 19 and 26 January and 2 February 2023, 7-9pm.


Please note: you must sign up for the full course even if you cannot attend all dates. No partial course ticket is available.

Short Courses are for over 18s. If you are a young writer, you can sign up for our Spark Young Writers Programme.

All Writing West Midlands short courses are collaborative, and you will learn as much from your fellow course attendees as from the tutor. You will be expected to play an active role in group tasks, and you will also have time to reflect on your own writing during sessions.

Course handouts are sometimes (but not always) available, and notes may be available in advance upon request. If you have any additional needs, please contact Writing West Midlands in advance of the course starting and we will try to assist you.

More Info

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05 Jan 2023


7:00 pm - 9:00 pm