Through a Screen Darkly: Writing Poetry That Keeps You Up at Night


Why write poetry, as opposed to fiction, or a dramatic piece? This question is at the heart of this four-week programme as we unravel the complex impulses and inspirations that go into the poetic pursuit and how these can ignite our writings.

For too long, poetry has been taught and mined for meaning first. As T. S. Eliot says: “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” That’s the beautiful power of poetry which can excavate even as your mind has yet to unravel it.

By interrogating one’s own motivations and then embracing the poetic imagination, this series of workshops will take you through the various stages of verse fruition, from harnessing the initial spark (of hope, or fear, or both), to examining the armoury of tools for self-expression (through other art forms such as films and music), to ascertaining the range of approaches which best steer and keep you on the edge, and to finally unleashing the poems to the outside world, come what may.

Every week, participants will be encouraged to write prompt-led poetry, and share their poems and opinions on each other’s work.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Appreciate the artistic richness of poetry
  • Enhance your writing skills through exercises and sharing sessions
  • Explore multifarious creative outlets through other art forms and expand your creative repertoire

Course Objectives:

  • To introduce participants the joys of appreciating poetry
  • To acquire the basic tenets of poetry and how participants can start writing their own poems via hands-on exercises
  • To learn from other art forms such as films and music and be sensitised to worldly inspirations

Programme Itinerary:

  • First Session: THE SPARK (17 February 2024)

    How does an idea for a poem come about? How does one allow an embryo of a feeling, a concept, or an issue, to evolve and develop? This session delves into the factors to consider when trying to give voice to a spark. Whether it’s a memory, a person, or an artificial prompt, it can help you to confront the genuine root for that poetic investigation, and how we can start afresh, abuzz, ready for all possibilities.

    Second Session: THE ARMOURY (24 February 2024)

    You’ve got an iota of an idea, but where do we go from here? This session introduces the formal strategies – form, rhythm, imagery – which anchor your poetic expression. Aside from the tried-and-tested, we will also get to learn from other artforms such as films and music, and know the more experimental, and outre projects which can revise and enrich our notions of what poetry can be.

    Third Session: THE EXPOSURE (2 March 2024)

    When is a poem done? This session looks at the hard but essential task of knowing when and how to end a poem, and as a collection, how to structure and sequence one’s manuscript.

    Fourth Session: THE VULNERABILITY (9 March 2024)

    How do you know if your poem is good enough to let it out? This is where rigorous editing, self-critique and a good hide (thick skin) will come in handy. This session will involve you to stand apart from your work, examine the pitfalls, kill your darlings. It will end in a poetry recital where participants will share their takeaways and their newly-minted poetry.

Programme Details:

Date: 17 & 24 February, 2 & 9 March 2024, Saturday
Time: 10.00 am - 1.00 pm
Venue: SBC Training Room, Goodman Arts Centre,
Blk E, #03-32



The programme can be cancelled or postponed two weeks before the programme date if the minimum number of participants is not met. Participants will be fully refunded for workshops cancelled by us.

Participants who are unable to attend a workshop they have registered for are to inform us of the reason two weeks before the workshop date. They will be fully refunded in the event of extenuating and mitigating circumstances (E.g. illness, bereavement, accidents) . Those who inform us up to 5 working days before the workshop date will receive a 50% refund. Those who did not turn up at the workshop will not receive a refund.

Upon registration, you are deemed to have read and understood the cancellation and withdrawal policy and accept the terms contained therein.


17 Feb 2024
10.00 AM - 1.00 PM

Singapore Book Council Training Room
90 Goodman Road, Blk E #03-32, Goodman Arts Centre, S439053

Course Fee: $280
Eventbrite Registration Fee: $8.63


• 40% off for students and seniors*
• 20% off buddy tickets (min. 2 tickets)*
• 20% off past participants of SBC Academy**
• 10% off for Kinokuniya Privilege Card members**

*No promo code needed, option available on Eventbrite
**Request promo code via email to [email protected] 


Yeow Kai Chai

Yeow Kai Chai

Yeow Kai Chai is a poet, fiction writer, and editor. He has three poetry collections, One to the Dark Tower ComesPretend I’m Not Here, and Secret Manta. He has worked in the media, including as an entertainment editor and music reviewer, in various publications such as The Straits Times8 Days and My Paper. He co-wrote The Adopted: Stories from Angkor and Lost Bodies: Poems Between Portugal and Home, with three other authors. A co-editor of Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, he was the festival director of the Singapore Writers Festival from 2015 to 2018.