Online: Shakespearian Tragedy: Provoking Free Verse Response Through Spoken Word and Rap with Berni Dwan
Dates: Tues 3 Aug 2021
Time: 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Duration: 5 Weeks
Cost: €150/€135 members
Course Level: Beginner
All remote Irish Writers Centre courses take place on Irish Standard Time (GMT+1)
Whether you realise it or not, the works of William Shakespeare influence your own writing. He did exactly what you are striving to do: write about the human condition in all its beauty and ugliness. Just imagine how the covert operators in Shakespeare’s tragedies would have harnessed social media. His ‘now’ has become our ‘now’ - his bubonic plague is our coronavirus. Our observations of everyday life and human relationships, local, national and global, are the stuff of verse, just like they were for Shakespeare five hundred years ago – human nature has not changed.
In this course, you will respond to the universal Shakespearian challenges posed in King Lear, Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet and Julius Caesar by writing your own Free Verse poetry drawing on rap and spoken word. You will be encouraged to juxtapose the dilemmas of these Shakespearian tragedies with modern day life.
Class 1: King Lear
The theme of this exercise is duty, as it links in with the ungrateful child as portrayed in Act 1 Scene 1. It will include free verse writing on duty as a response.
Class 2: Macbeth
The theme of this exercise is pride, as it responds to the self-fulfilling prophesy as portrayed in Act 1 Scene 3. It will include free verse writing on pride as a response.
Class 3: Othello
The theme of this exercise is racism as a response to Othello’s elopement with Desdemona as portrayed in Act 1 Scenes 1 and 2. It will include free verse writing on racism as a response.
Class 4: Hamlet
The theme of this exercise is procrastination as a response to the dénouement of Hamlet’s blameless journey towards the death of all the main characters, including himself, as portrayed in Act 5 Scene 2. It will include free verse writing on procrastination as a response
Class 5: Julius Caesar
The theme of this exercise is loyalty especially as it plays out with friends, Brutus and Antony, in Act 3 Scene 1. It will include free verse writing on loyalty as a response.
Course Outcomes: You will take away two things:
An appreciation of the influence of Shakespeare on all subsequent literature, and how it never ceases to spark inspiration and provoke response.
An understanding that Free Verse is a legitimate form of artistic expression, but one that must be as carefully crafted as other poetic forms.
Berni Dwan broadcasts about literature and history on Near FM 90.3. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Cránnog, Irish Times New Irish Writing, The Blue Nib, The Galway Review and Southword among others. Her Smock Alley Theatre shows Unrhymed Dublin (2016) and The Seven Ages; Like It or Not (2020) are observational. Her first poetry collection, Frankly Baby, was published by Lapwing Press in 2018. Berni came second in the Johnathan Swift Awards and was shortlisted for the Anthony Cronin International Poetry Award. She is the recipient of two grants from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland – one for an eight-part series on the coming-of-age novel.
Review of Berni Dwan's work
Review of Berni's first collection Frankly, baby, in Crossways literary magazine: