University of Iowa

Poetic Alchemy: From First Draft to Final Draft

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019

Poetry, like alchemy, is a process of experimentation, distillation, and transmutation; a mixture of courage, patience, skill and happenstance. This workshop takes to heart the idea of the alchemical journey and its willingness to commit to process in order to build skills, and poems, over time. We will explore and experiment with some of the “base metals” of craft (line/sentence/pacing, the image, the stanza, for example) and look closely at the relationship between poetic form, structure, and content. Because revising/re-visioning a poem is a vital, ongoing part of the poetic process, we will begin by sharing and discussing various re-visioning techniques. During this workshop, you will refine and distill rough poems and/or first drafts of poems brought from home or generated in class; with this in mind, you are encouraged to bring poems already in progress to work on in workshop; however, there will also be “homework” prompts (using model poems by master poets) that will enable you to generate new material. Through revision, readings, and discussion you will acquire more poetic tools and techniques with which to work your material, expanding and deepening its emotional reach; during workshop, you will begin to distill and refine your poems towards final drafts. Suitable for both beginners and poets with a working knowledge of basic craft techniques.


In this workshop we will provide feedback on writing you bring from home or produce in our week.