University of Iowa

Betting on the Muse: A Poetry Workshop

Weekend June 16 to June 17 2018

I usually lose at poker. Part of this is because I’m no good with numbers. The other part is because it’s scary to take risks; it’s much easier to bet on a sure thing, and avoid the patience it takes to sit and study the game. While gambling and poetry have their obvious differences, the same fears/reservations that might keep us away from casinos can limit us severely as writers. By worrying too much about readers, style, or if/how poems reflect back on us as creators, we may prevent ourselves from exploring all the avenues the blank page has to offer. In this workshop, we will expand our poetic abilities by (as Bukowski says) betting it all on the muse. Through analysis of poems by James Wright, John Berryman, Gertrude Stein, and Emily Dickinson, among others, we will examine what it means to successfully take chances on the page (emotional, thematic, formal) and work on implementing those ideas in our own writing via in-class exercises and workshops. Poets at all levels who are interested in generating work that pushes them in new directions are encouraged to join us.