At the Loft: Winter/Spring 2017

Poetry Master Class: Memory and Imagination

1/24/17 – 4/11/17 | Tuesday 6:00 – 9:00 pm

This class is an intensive opportunity for advanced poets to explore the relationships between memory, imagination and “autobiography” in their poetry. We live in an age of memoir, but in debates over the blurring of fiction and nonfiction poetry is rarely included; and yet, more than 40 years after the rise of “confessional” poetry, poets are still struggling with issues of poetic truth-telling and responsibility.

This class is for advanced poets who have identified that they are working the borders between poetry and autobiography; poets whose work circles and re-enters—at different points in time and often with a different “I”—a particular event and/or place; poets who are questioning the boundaries/relationships between emotional and literal truth, memory and imagination, person and persona in poems that have an autobiographical imperative.

This class is a combination of reading/discussion of essays, writing, and workshopping. We will also look at several elements of craft: the line and the sentence, the use of syntax, issues of poetic “opening” and “closure” and the magic and chaos of the creative process itself.

Please obtain After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography edited by Kate Sontag and David Graham (Graywolf Press: 2001). Copy fee of $5 payable to the teaching artist.

At the Loft: Winter/Spring 2017

The Beautiful Exchange: Deepening the Poetic Experience

1/24/17—4/11/17 |  Tuesday 1:00 – 3:00 pm

“The reader,” claimed Whitman, “will always have his or her part to do, just as much as I have mine.” But what is the part, or role, of the reader? As writers, what can we learn from reading poems and discovering what Edward Hirsch calls “the soul in action”?

In looking closely at a poem we begin to see how its technical accomplishments create our physical, emotional and ecstatic responses to it: to learn about the nature of poetry we must go to the poem. Using How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry by Edward Hirsch, a weekly essay, selection of poems and a weekly writing activity, we will explore the relationships between technique and the “shining body” of the poem, between the poem and the reader, and between the reader and the writer. We will discover what we need to do in order to enter and experience a poem completely, and how we can take what we find there and use it to inform and deepen our own writing while letting the larger issues and concerns of poetry emerge as we do so.

Please obtain How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry by Edward Hirsch. Copy fee of $5.00 for supplemental readings payable to the teaching artist.

At the Loft: Spring/Summer 2016

The Craft of Poetry: A Primer

6/14/2016—8/9/2016 (no class Tuesday 5th July) | Tuesday | 6-8 p.m.

What skills do we need to acquire if we are to express, in words, something of our marvelous complexity?  This class is an introduction to the craft of poetry: it is designed for those with little or no experience.  We will experiment with the line, the stanza, devices of sound, metaphor and simile, meter, syllabics, Anglo-Saxon verse and poetic forms; we will explore the relationship between poetic content and form and look at the difficult, and critical, process of revision.  The emphasis of this class is on readings, in-class discussions, and the workshopping of our own poems.  The word “workshop” implies saws, noise, grease, and dust; implies that the work itself, the making, is the pleasure.  Please obtain a copy of the The Poet’s Companion by Dorianne Laux and Kim Addonizio.

At the Loft: Spring/Summer 2016

 Join me for 

The Art of Imitation: Using the Works of Master Poets to Explore and Develop Craft
6/13/2016—8/8/2016 (no class Monday 4th July) | Monday | 6:00-8:00 p.m.

The painters and sculptors of the Renaissance began their careers as apprentices, copying the work of master artists before attempting their own work.  This class takes this concept as its starting point and is a combination of writing, discussion, sharing and serious play. While every poem has its own formal imperatives, imitating another poet’s strategies allows us to practice technique and gain insights into the relationship of form and content.  What, for example, can we learn about tone and pacing by imitating the syllable count, line length, rhyme and punctuation pattern of Masefield’s “Up On the Downs”?  When we imitate the syntactical and grammatical moves in a poem by Eamon Grennan, what do we discover about narrative suspension and lyric depth?   Weekly discussion of two/three poems will allow you choose one poem and isolate two or more of the strategies you would like to imitate; weekly in-class writing will generate new material to use in your imitations; and because learning poems by heart is yet another way of embodying language, you will be encouraged to memorize a poem of at least twenty lines to recite during our last meeting.  Weekly reading will come from Master Class: Lessons from Leading Writers.