Myths of African, Asian, Greek, and Roman origin are embedded in World literature, not only as metaphor and moral, but as a measure of humanity’s intrinsic faults or heroism. This workshop will explore timeless myths as a means to discuss modern political, social and spiritual issues through poetry. Poets might consider the risk of flying too high or the folly of flying too low with Icarus. Poets might ask T’ao Ch’ien to lead the residents of Ferguson to the idyllic Peach Blossom Spring.
Are you fascinated by Monarch butterflies? Dark matter? Funiculars? Politics? Medieval art? How do you go about translating that passionate interest onto the page? In this workshop, we will explore how other poets have plumbed their passions—Maggie Nelson in Bluets, Sawako Nakayasu in The Ants, Takashi Hiraide in For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut, and Harryette Mullen in Sleeping with the Dictionary, to name a few—and will mine our own new or longstanding obsessions to write a series of connected poems.
Throughout the millennia, poets have been inspired by the visual arts as a way into reading the self and soul. This workshop will explore figurations of the soul through our numinous encounters with the visual. How can we create a dialogue with the visual arts that triggers an introspection of the self?
In this class, each writer will select a classic text to adapt and transform over the course of the six weeks, while engaging with poems based on precursor texts, and the precursors that provoked them. How can writing be a way of reading? How old is the ‘remix’? For inspiration, we’ll discuss Shakespeare rewrites by Jen Bervin, Harryette Mullen, and June Jordan, as well as Jack Spicer’s “Homage to Creeley,” Rod Smith’s “Homage to Homage to Creeley,” and Joshua Ware’s “Homage to Homage to Homage to Creeley,” alongside many other literary sequels.
Saturday, December 5, Noon-4pm
Sunday, December 6 Noon-4pm
Application deadline: November 20
Terese Svoboda is the author of more than a dozen books. Her forthcoming titles include When the Next Big War Blows Down the Valley: Selected & New Poems and Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet.
Saturday, November 7, 2-6pm
Sunday, November 8, Noon-4pm
Application deadline: October 16
Although writers wrestle with how to end a poem as much as they fret over how to get started, in this class we will discuss how the ending of a poem is often revealed along the way. We will talk about strategies for closing the poem, and we will talk about why the ending is important. The ending of the poem doesn’t always mean that the poem is over or that it’s shut down; we will talk about the ways in which the poem opens up at the end.
Ander Monson, author of Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries (2015), leads a generative trawl through the 60,000-volume library at Poets House. Through encounters with unexpected materials found between the pages, library-nauts will have the unique opportunity to “publish work back” into books that once seemed completed.
What are your syntactic habits and how do they constrict or limit where your poems will take you? If you can say “my poems always/ never…” (ex. are in first person, start in present tense, use complete sentences, ask questions, etc.) this session is a chance to see what happens when you try something new. We’ll look at poems, experiment with various syntactic strategies, and explore ways to move out of the familiar and generate drafts of new poems. To help us think about syntax and revision, participants are encouraged to bring in a draft of a poem.
Scholar and poet Rosamond King shares her insights into the groundbreaking output of 20th-century Caribbean poets, including the works of Kamau Brathwaite and M. NourbeSe Philip in this interactive seminar. (Full audio, approx. 1 hr, 15 mins.)