If you could learn from any poet, who would you choose? Aracelis Girmay, Whitman, Plath? If you could learn from any poem, which would you choose? Reading poetry like a poet transforms every poem into your personal tutor.
In this course, we will learn from Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” and Mary Szybist’s “So and So Descending from the Bridge,” from Franz Wright and Brigite Pegeen Kelly and innumerable more. This learning will reach beyond the poems into the minds of the poets. We will study their writing to learn how to write.
Though often done alone, whether at the window of a coffee shop or the head of your bed, the writing of poetry is never a solitary act. It is surrounded, always, by the poets who came before and the poets who will follow. To write poems we love, we must read poems we love. We must take the poets we love as our teachers. In this course, we will learn how.
Each session, we will spend the first thirty minutes discussing an important aspect of reading (and writing) poetry before diving into the close reading of an elucidating poem. More poems as well as a selection of relevant prose will also be available to read throughout the week.
8/13: the sentence
Discussion: the sentence and syntax in poetry
“The Book of the Dead Man (#3)” by Marvin Bell
“Chimera” by Vievee Francis
“Love Without Love” by Sharon Olds
“Weeds” by David Yezzi
“Danse Russe” by William Carlos Williams
Adrian Blevins and David Long on the sentence
Discussion: rhythm, meters, and basic scanning
“b o d y” by James Merrill
“Psalm for Kingston” by Shara McCallum
“Stillness, Waiting” by Robert Wrigley
“Blind Boone’s Blessings” by Tyehimba Jess
“Birches” by Robert Frost
Robert Hass and Theodore Roethke on rhythm and meter
8/27: the image
Discussion: the memorable image in memory, simile, and metaphor
“The Lighthouse Keeper” by Ansel Elkins
“Arghavaan” by H.E. Sayeh
“Mimesis” by Fady Joudah
“Red Rose” by Forugh Farrokhzad
“Song” by Brigite Pegeen Kelly
Prose: Emerson’s “Nature”
Andrea Michalowsky has an MFA in poetry from Pacific University and a BA in writing seminars from Johns Hopkins University. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review as an honorable mention in their international poetry contest and received a Vaclav Havel Scholarship to the Prague Summer Program for Writers. Her current book-length project presses past love into ownership of the self within the structural arc of the sonnet. She’s interested in diverse forms, from the traditional to the experimental, and specializes in the ghazal. In addition to reading and writing poetry, she offers personalized sessions as a poetry mentor.