2 sessions: Saturday December 3 + 10
Poetry was my first education in literature—I wrote poems for twenty years before publishing my first novel. Even after making the switch to prose, reading poems has remained fundamental to my ongoing training as a writer. In this course, I hope to share how poetry has enriched my practice as a novelist—and to equip you with tools for engaging with poems in ways that will be helpful for your own writerly education.
The two sessions are designed as a sequence but may be taken separately.
Session 1: How to Read Poems
In this first session, we’ll approach reading poems from the basics: how to unpack the compressed language poems often use; how to register the music and meaning-making of line; how to experience poetic image; how to navigate the patterns and pattern-breaking of form. The class is especially aimed at anyone who is new to poetry—or who has felt intimidated or frustrated by poems—and would like concrete techniques for approaching it. But poetic fundamentals are endlessly mysterious, and my hope is that experienced readers of poems will come away with new ideas and deepened understanding.
Session 2: Poetic Techniques for Prose Writers
Precision of language, force of imagery, economy of scene, drama of syntax: these are all features of poetry that can enliven and enrich our prose. This is a class about how to read poems with writerly attention, looking for techniques we can transplant to our own work. We’ll read together four poems—by W.B. Yeats, Elizabeth Bishop, Carl Phillips, and Natalie Diaz—that offer profound lessons for the prose writer, and that have been transformative of my own work as a novelist.
Scholarships available on a rolling basis. For information, please contact Cheyenne Paterson, firstname.lastname@example.org