Your free exercise

The exercise Ben sets out here is one you can quickly and easily complete at home. It begins with a single word or phrase and expands into a personal consideration of place and identity. You will end up with the first draft of a poem that says something particular about you, your language, and your place in the world. If you’re looking for inspiration, please see below for an example of one of Ben’s own poems!


Ben Wilkinson


Not cold but given to feeling the cold,

a slip of a boy waiting

for the number 12

as a summer breeze floats in,

suddenly shivering. Or the way


my mum used to tell my brother

and me to take our coats off

even though we’d soon be out again:

“You’ll not feel the benefit!” she’d scold,

sagely, and who were we to argue?


Nesh is for those of us who sense

someone walking over our grave,

who need the perfect

imprecision of the poem, made

from language’s shoddy array,


to get us through the day.

Look at you, sat on the doorstep

having forgotten your keys again,

the slightest chill biting

at your neck. I’d give you my coat


if you weren’t fifteen years dead.



© Ben Wilkinson, first published in Way More Than Luck (Seren, 2018)

When you have finished, please type up your poem or upload it on the form at the bottom of the page. We will read this and respond to you as soon as possible with tailored comments on your submission. This will give you an idea of the type and quality of feedback our students receive, as well as highlighting your own strengths as a poet.

Finally, please check out the rest of our taster pages, and if you’re interested in learning more about our degree programmes, don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll happily organise a face-to-face or Zoom meeting. Enjoy!

About the full degree programme

In your first year as a new student on our BA Creative Writing or BA English & Creative Writing programme, you’ll get the chance to experiment with different forms of creative expression through the written word. Our introductory module in Poetry Writing will introduce you to the play and craft of poetry. With a focus on modern and contemporary poets and poems, you will be encouraged to develop your own poetic voice, distinctive images, sense of rhythm, and much more.

Throughout your time at the University of Bolton, you’ll encounter poems that span a range of styles, from the traditional to the experimental, from confessional writing to playful use of poetic persona, from crafted formal works to free verse and prose poetry, all of which will help you to discover your own poetic voice. Our Poetry Writing classes are designed to both inform and excite; we believe that the most effective way to learn is through study but also through play. We will encourage you to pursue creative projects that interest you, supported by our staff team, who’ll provide you with regular detailed feedback and recommended readings.

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Submit your work here

When you have completed the writing exercise, please type up your submission or upload it onto this form. We will read this and respond to you as soon as possible with tailored comments on your submission.

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