Richard Wilbur says that to begin writing a poem, “there has to be a sudden, confident sense that there is an exploitable and interesting relationship between something perceived out there and something in the way of incipient meaning within you,” and in this course, we will work through your poems to mine that territory between the external and the internal.
We will focus on: how to find a poem’s form; creating complex meanings through line, language and white space; and developing rhythm and tension through syntax, punctuation, perspective and repetition. As an advanced poetry workshop, this class assumes that its members are already practicing poets with a grounding in the foundational techniques of poetry writing. We will work in a spirit of shared experiment, hoping to push our inquiries into this art form further. Readings and assignments will investigate different impulses—formal, textural, tonal, thematic. I will ask you to inhabit, query, stretch, and even resist these impulses as you develop your own poems.
Gary McDowell's Aflame won the 2019 White Pine Press Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in Fall 2020. He is also the author of Caesura: Essays (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2017) and Mysteries in a World that Thinks There Are None (Burnside Review Press, 2016), among other books. His poems and essays have appeared in journals such as American Poetry Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, New England Review, and The Southern Review.
“Gary is amazing! I wish I'd had a writing teacher like him in college. Belmont's lucky.”
“Gary is such an enthusiastic, warm teacher. He provided individual feedback on top of giving us thoroughly thought out readings and exercises each week!”
“I have taken two classes with Gary and they have both been wonderful! He really encourages open and honest discussion about the subjects that we’re focusing on, and has helped inspire me to write things I would not have written has it not been for his classes. I feel so lucky to have found the Porch, and I hope to take more classes in the future!”