University of Iowa

All in a Song: Exploring the Lyric Essay

Weeklong July 15 to July 20 2018

What innovator John D’Agata calls an oddball genre—the lyric essay combines elements of poetry and essays, relying on the former for its insistence of compression, form and thinking and the latter in its devotion to the process of discovery of fact. How these two things come together is in the eye of the beholder, so in this workshop we’ll spend our first session attempting to define the genre ourselves by reading what others have to say about the form. From there, we’ll plunge into a variety of exercises and prompts to generate ideas for a larger essay. By the week’s end, students will have the rough draft of the essay in hand, with a clear direction on how to move the work forward. This class is for poets and prose writers alike who are interested in generating material to push themselves in new directions.