In this poetry workshop, we will explore both the agonizing invasions of conquering influences and the ecstasies of our intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical influences, and how both they inform our work and those of other artists. We will practice working with and against our predilections and habits, design exercises outside of our comfort zones, and give ourselves permission to obsess and worry poems down the rabbit holes of compulsion and assumption.
This class asks the simple question: what is the sonnet today? After centuries of relative stability, the sonnet in English has undergone a lot of changes since Modernism. It has registered almost every formal experiment from the advent of free verse onward: projective verse, collage, homophonic translation, n+7, appropriation, erasure, etc. It has likewise registered almost every philosophical and political development in the last century, from deconstruction to feminism.
In this workshop, we will move beyond straight-up reality in our poems and see what surprising turns and new meanings reveal themselves when we incorporate surreal elements and occurrences into our work. How do poets write their way into the fantastical? And what role does humor play in getting there? For inspiration, we’ll read excerpts from Alice Notley’s Descent of Alette, poems from Cesar Vallejo, Julio Cortazar, James Wright, Cathy Park Hong, Tomaz Salamun, Hiromi Ito, and many others.
Winner of the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for Space, in Chains and a finalist for the 2015 Kingsley Tufts Award for The Infintesimals, Laura Kasischke is the author of seven books of poetry and nine popular novels.
Ellen Hagan (Hemisphere, Northwestern University Press/TriQuarterly), Parneshia Jones (Vessel, Milkweed Editions), Anne Marie Macari (Red Deer, Persea Books), and Jean Valentine (Shirt in Heaven, Copper Canyon Press)