Towards a theory of poetry writing development


Sue Dymoke, University of Leicester

Anthony Wilson, University of Exeter

Theoretical explanations of learners’ poetry writing development are relatively new and, compared to other genres, rare (Dymoke 2003; Wilson, 2009). In part this can be traced back to the secure but mixed status (Wilson, 2005) of poetry in the post-war writing curricula of Anglophone countries. Further, neither the cognitive models of writing development offered by Hayes and Flower (1980), Bereiter and Scardamalia (1987), and Sharples (1999), nor the descriptions of poet-practitioners or inspired experts (including Hughes, 1967; Brownjohn, 1994; Pirrie, 1994 and Rosen, 1998) give a fully nuanced representation of the unique demands of poetry composition. Also missing from these models is the social context of learning to write poetry.

Our theorisation has emerged from a review of key literature in the field. It points to new areas for potential investigation. It also draws on our multiple perspectives as: published poets, who have written poetry since childhood; teacher educators, who support beginning teachers’ classroom work, and researchers, who investigate poetry writing processes and poetry’s location within curriculum assessment frameworks.
In this session we aim to explore existing developmental models before opening up a discussion about a potential new model and contribution to the theorisation of development in poetry writing. Our draft model takes into account learners’ motivation and the fluid social contexts in which they are developing their skills and tastes as readers, writers and performers of poetry. We hope this will interest those colleagues teaching, researching and/or working as visiting creative writers across HE and school English sectors.

Thursday 6th July, 11.00