This class will focus on reading and writing short poems, particularly those of ten lines or less. We will look at the structure of short poems from around the world and from throughout the histories of poetry, including Classical epigrams, haiku, and Imagist lyric; discussing Catullus, Basho, and H. D., among others. Throughout our discussions and writing we’ll focus on the formal strategies—prosody, syllable count, rhyme, alliteration, image, etc.— and the kinds of detail work that allow a successful short poem to grow ever larger in our minds after we’re done reading it.
Lineation is the main design, the central idiosyncratic feature of poetry. This class stems from connections to other precincts of lineation, primarily geology: the linear structural features within rocks, called intersection, crenulation, mineral, and stretching. The re-navigation of the poetic line into the metamorphic lineation of geology is a re- orientation. Our writing exercises will emanate from this interdisciplinary crossroad, employing such inventions as junction, stress, re-direction, and parallelism.
T S Eliot wrote, “To use very strict form is a help, because you concentrate on the technical difficulties of mastering the form, and allow the content of the poem a more unconscious and freer release.” A poetic form is a little recipe, an algorithm in the history of verse. There is nothing poetic about form itself. How does one enable the content—the poetry—to flow within the strictures of a sonnet, or a sestina, or a villanelle? How does poetry result from rules and confinement? We will discuss forms and write our own poems within and outside them.
Poet Tom Sleigh presents a discussion of the use of description in Seamus Heaney’s masterful poems, exploring and celebrating his humane marveling at the life of the senses and the natural surfaces of the world.
Poet, performer, educator, and self-proclaimed “lingualisualist” rooted in the languages of sight and sound, Edwin Torres leads an exploration of the tools poets use to extend past the edges of language to articulate the rich spaces between sound and definition.