University of Iowa

Working with Imagery: A Generative Poetry Workshop

Weekend July 13 to July 14 2019

Imagery—the recreation of sensory experience through language—is one of the key elements of poetic craft, and surprisingly, frequently among the hardest to master. Most of us are familiar with Pound’s famous dictum, “Go in fear of abstractions,” and of course that old saw, “Show, don’t tell,” yet it can be challenging to put these concepts into practice or to understand why they are so important. It’s certainly true there is a place for the abstract in poetry, but for most poets, the ability to effectively work with imagery is vital to writing our best work. In this generative workshop we’ll focus on the use of imagery in creating and revising poems. We’ll spend our two days together reading and discussing poems in which imagery plays an important role and free-writing together in class in response to proven prompts designed to inspire new work. We’ll share exercises and ideas for new poems in a supportive, no-pressure exchange as a way of discovering their “gifts”—those openings towards revision or new work. Our goal will be to send you home more confident in your understanding and use of imagery, energized, and filled with ideas for new poems and revisions. The workshop welcomes poets at all levels of experience.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts.