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The Lyric Essay

Thursdays, 6 weeks
Mar 24
Apr 28
6:00 - 8:00PM CST
Gary McDowell
Online via Zoom
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Not a poem, not a narrative, not an idea-driven essay, but something other.  Outside and/or inside this post-structuralist definition exists a genre of writing contemporarily vital to our literature.  Braided through image, language, story, rhythm, and mimetic technique, the lyric essay expands upon its forbearers (Creative Nonfiction and New Journalism) popularized in the 1960s and 1970s by the likes of Joan Didion and Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe.  The lyric essay, however, has pushed beyond even those texts to include new levels of perception and insight, music and poetry.  In this class, we will spend the first three weeks defining, reading, discussing, and writing the lyric essay (writers discussed may include, among others, Lia Purpura, Joni Tevis, T Fleischmann, Karen Green, Brian Lennon, and Brenda Miller), and then we will embark upon a writing our own work.

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.

What Our Students Say

"Gary McDowell was an encouraging, knowledgeable and generous instructor. In his class, I not only learned much more about the technical aspects of writing a poem than I had known before but with his help, was inspired to infuse certain of my poems with greater clarity and strength."

"Encyclopedic knowledge of modern American poetry, willing to share what he has learned about writing itself, which is considerable and worthwhile, all this remarkably without ego; Gary creates a stimulating supportive space to learn."

"Gary set a great workshop tone. He was totally supportive and inclusive, expertly steering discussion but also talking to us as peers. He had things to add, but was never overbearing. I loved his way of instructing and would take a class from him again!"

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