What skills do we need to acquire if we are to express, in words, something of our marvelous complexity? How do we compress and hone the raw material of language into a poem? This intensive course is an introduction to the craft of poetry designed for beginning poets, for those who are ready to look more closely at some of the defining characteristics of poetry—the line and stanza, the use of images, rhythm and sound, the dynamics of tone and point of view, the interplay of movement and stillness, and the hard work of revision.
Just about every writer who travels thinks about using the experience of foreignness in a story or essay or poem, and plenty others feel compelled to at least blog about it. Travel provides us with intense, complex experiences, unfamiliar settings, interesting characters, and the heightened self-awareness that comes from dislocation. But the results are sometimes disappointing, failing to capture the distinctive emotion and vividness of being on that particular street, dealing with that particular conflict at that particular time, much less developing into a coherent piece of writing.
Since the time of Homer poets have been in conversation with visual art and sculpture. But how does a poem translate a painting? How can the experience of ‘space’ in a painting, or the physical presence of a sculpture, be represented in writing? How does a poem tap into the narrative potential of a visual image, and how can you, as a poet, use visual art to access, and connect with, your own life stories?
In this intensive workshop, we’ll break down the elements of poetry in nitty-gritty style, unpacking various aspects of poetic craft. Subjects in this workshop will be tailored to participants, but may include: strategies for creating and deploying imagery, choices in creating line breaks, methods of creating tone, use of perspective/point of view, and using narrative or lyric techniques.
In this workshop, we’ll talk through the submission process and the world of publishing poetry. We’ll cover submissions of individual poems and book-length manuscripts. We’ll review lists of helpful tips, look at ways to track and manage your submissions, and even talk about how to deal with rejection. There will be a lot of time for questions and discussion.
In Exercises in Style, Raymond Queneau re-imagines one brief narrative in 99 different versions. We won’t get that obsessive in our weekend together, but we will read a number of poets from different “schools” and carefully listen to different modes of expression that might help us re-work our own poems. How might Romantic/Modernist/Objectivist voices help us see our subjects and our language differently? We’ll use a variety of syntactical, musical, and rhetorical strategies to revise our poems, trusting our eyes and ears to take in and learn from what others have done over time.
We’ll spend our week generating poems, and each day we’ll start something new together. Each day will bring us lyric inspiration that will consist of work from two poets (one contemporary poet and one pre-20th century poet), a mythological tale, visual art, a rhetorical trope, idioms, and even popular song lyrics. We’ll take these calculated moves and whatever inspiration you bring from personal experience to create more textured, layered, and seriously playful poems.
The elegy offers one of poetry’s most appealing consolations: it can transform loss—and even the threat of loss—into an artful presence. Our sessions will explore how reading and elegiac writing can help us reflect on the lives we’ve led (and will lead) as we navigate absence. Expect a moving and invigorating workshop—one that isn’t afraid to laugh, either—as we write poems together and read a wide range of classic and contemporary poetic voices as models. You needn’t have ever written a poem before; we’ll focus on work generated in our sessions together.
“The cleverer I am at miniaturizing the world, the better I possess it.”—Gaston Bachelard
Oh the elusive perfect picture book! We want our picture books for children to be accessible to young readers yet appealing to the adults who are reading them, fresh yet somehow familiar, and interesting enough to be unforgettable. In other words, we want to find the pulse of the story, where it connects to its heart. What is it about this story that makes it feel ‘alive’ to readers? Maya Angelou has said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” ‘Heart’ is how we feel.