Poetry 1: The Music of Language

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Poetry 1: The Music of Language

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Richard Hugo tells us, in his essay, Writing off the Subject, that “all truth must conform to music.”  In other words, how we shape our experiences to the music of our language creates poetry.  We owe reality nothing and the truth about our feelings everything, and yet still we find it hard to move beyond mere experience and memory to create image-driven, sonically pleasing poems.  In order to practice doing so, we will spend our first few weeks reading widely among contemporary poets (both their poems and their essays on poetics), and through writing exercises and imitations (poems written under the influence of the poets we’ll be reading), we’ll transition into several weeks of the workshopping of our poems.  So come prepared to read, write, and have fun learning not only how to write poems but how to be poets.


  • Instructor: Gary McDowell

  • Length of workshop: 6 weeks

  • Date: Wednesdays, Sep. 12 - Oct. 17

  • Time: 7 - 9 p.m.

  • Location: TBD

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About the Instructor:

Gary L. McDowell is the author of five collections of poetry, including Mysteries in a World that Thinks There Are None (Burnside Review Press, 2016), winner of the 2014 Burnside Review Press Book Award; Weeping at a Stranger’s Funeral (Dream Horse Press, 2014); and American Amen (Dream Horse Press, 2010), winner of the 2009 Orphic Prize in Poetry. He’s also the co-editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (Rose Metal Press, 2010). His poems and essays have appeared in journals such as American Poetry ReviewThe NationGulf CoastNew England ReviewPrairie Schooner, and Colorado Review. He lives in Nashville, TN with his family and is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Belmont University.