Writers’ therapy with Marcus Wicker

  • Marcus Wicker explains the structure of an invective poem.

  • Wicker offers advice on a student's invective poem.

  • Marcus Wicker signs copies of his book after his master class.

May 29, 2018

On May 3, creative writing students participated in a master class with poet Marcus Wicker.

During the hour-long master class, Wicker taught the students how to write an invective poem, a form popular in the ancient Greco-Roman world. The invective poem, used in ancient times to criticize political figures, is now most frequently used to denounce practices or rebuke individuals that have harmed the writer.

Wicker began the session by introducing a classic invective poem and leading them through an analysis of its contents. Then, he asked each student to create two lists: A list of minor wrongs done to them and a list of major wrongs. Each student selected one of these situations upon which to base their own invective poem.

Despite the often-harsh nature of invective poetry, Wicker encouraged the students to focus on their own healing rather than rebuking their subject. “You’re trying to grapple with your hurt, not hurt others,” he reminded them.

At the end of the session, the students shared their poems with the class. Wicker also returned later that evening for a public reading, question-and-answer session and book signing.