E 386L • Poetry Workshop
12:30 PM-3:30 PM
I really wish we could call this Poetry Laboratory; it is not a class in fixing poems. The writing of poetry is definitionally experimental work, lunging forward, the imagination working independent and sometimes in violation of the conscious mind. We are making birds, not birdcages. Our primary task in workshop is to describe the work we have before us, not to convict it because of perceived flaws in regards to some sort of conjectural ideal that appears on no page anywhere. Often, the points in poems where everything goes haywire, which may seem like mistakes, are in fact the points where the poet is trying to write a poem she does not yet know how to, and therefore may be utterly crucial. All departures are not certain of where they will arrive. We will do our best to honor the ongoing exploration of creative process while nonetheless suggesting clarifications of its trajectories, identifying opportunities for development and refinements of aesthetic choices.
Students will be expected to do the impossible and submit a new poem each week. Also to be invested in the work of their classmates, always prepared, truthful, polite, good scouts who offer consistent, active, engaged comments in class.