Online Poetry Course –
Gesturing the Universal with Ella Frears

The night sky, the stars and the moon have captivated poets throughout time. In an age of space exploration and growing technology, how has our relationship with the night sky changed?

Taking inspiration from poets such as Brenda Shaughnessy, Tracy K. Smith and Mina Loy, we will attempt to look inwards at human behaviour, relationships and distractions whilst also gesturing outwards at the universal and our place in the cosmos. Is it possible to write about the moon when so much has been written before us? How can we write what is unknown? Can we contain the infinite within the finite space of the poem? Let’s find out.

By taking part in Gesturing the Universal, you’ll create at least three new interstellar poems, plus lots of new thoughts, ideas and beginnings.

The course is suitable for beginner – intermediate poets, or curious fiction and non-fiction writers looking to explore the universe through poetry, and poetry via the universe.

Discounted rates

London Writers Network members receive a 10% discount on Spread the Word’s paid programme of activities, and access to two free specially programmed London Writers Network events a year. You can find out more about the London Writers Network scheme here. If you are a London Writers Network member please login to receive your discount.

To see if you are eligible for a concessionary rate, please take a look at our concessions policy.

Course tutor Ella Frears will upload exercises and reading materials once a fortnight on the following dates;

Thursday 19 October
Thursday 2 November
Thursday 16 November

Assignments for each week will be due by the following Thursday, with feedback and discussion for the poems written each week to take place between;

Assignment 1: Thursday 26 October - Wednesday 1 November
Assignment 2: Thursday 9 November - Wednesday 15 November
Assignment 3: Thursday 23 November - Wednesday 29 November

We ask that participants commit to providing feedback for at least 3 other poems each feedback period. Ella will provide feedback on all three poems that you work on over the three sessions.

Gesturing the Universal is an online course as part of Spread the Word's piloting of online learning and feedback. As such, the prices are heavily subsidised and we ask that each participant provides us with feedback via a survey after course completion.

The course will take place online and will require you to have access to the internet. Because of this, we ask that you are confident with using simple online sharing platforms, or at least willing to explore with guidance from Spread the Word. Full instructions will be emailed to participants a week before the course starts. Although there will be no live chats, there will be opportunities to interact with other course participants via feedback and general discussion.

If you have any additional queries or questions before signing up, please email 

Ella Frears

Poet & Course Tutor

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Ella Frears has had work published or forthcoming in Poetry London, The Rialto, Poem, The Moth, The Emma Press, Brittle Star, Poems in Which and The Stockholm Review of Literature among others.

She was a Jerwood/Arvon Mentee 2016/17 (mentored by Mona Arshi) and was shortlisted for Young Poet Laureate for London 2014. She is a trustee and editor of Magma Poetry and has completed residencies and commissions for Tate Britain, Tate St.Ives, The National Trust, St. Michaels Mount and The Olympic Park.
Recently she was Poet in Residence in Buckler’s Hard, New Forest with SPUD.
In 2017, she was Poet in Residence at Royal Holloway University, exploring the final months of the Cassini satellite mission, in a project supported by Spread the Word and funded by Arts Council England. Her debut pamphlet Passivity, Electricity, Acclivity is forthcoming with Goldsmiths Press (November 2017).