real eyes revise
July 6-27, 2023
6-8:30 PM ET
"I went on with this exceeding struggle of knowing really knowing what a thing was really knowing it knowing anything I was seeing anything I was feeling ... I wonder if you do see what I mean."
I like to think of drafts as poems where the paint is still wet: you have an idea of what your work looks like, but you're still down to mess with it to see what else it can do and be. But to know which alternative futures might wait within a poem sometimes means seeing it from a distance or at a slant——to see it with new eyes, or from someone else's.
This four-week workshop frames revision as re-vision: as seeing your poems——and what they're capable of——again. Every week we'll read each other's work, responding with first impressions, close readings, and other reactions and interpretations to give each other feedback on how it's all coming across; review strategies for asking more specific questions, paying closer attention, and making more intentional decisions at the microscales of sound and format; and play around with constraints, experiments, and radical edits to unsettle existing language and push poems into unanticipated directions. The reading list for this workshop will include work by Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, Abigail Chabitnoy, Franny Choi, Noah Falck, Annelyse Gelman, Bob Kaufman, Marianne Moore, Xan Phillips, Richard Siken, Gertrude Stein, and others.
This workshop is open to poets of all levels and is designed for those who already have a few drafts sitting around. Students apply with a packet of three poems they'd like to revise; will have one poem per week workshopped by me and their peers; and will give weekly verbal and written feedback on their peers' poems. Every week, students will also read work by a mix of contemporary and canonical poets and will borrow their techniques, strategies, and ideas to experiment with new versions of poems of their own.
Week 1: Introduction / welcome, class goals, community guidelines
Week 2: Material / what makes it in, what gets left out
Week 3: Sequence / ordering and disordering
Week 4: Precision / no syllable or break goes unquestioned
- Become a better editor of your poems by giving and receiving feedback during weekly workshop sessions
- Learn new techniques, strategies, and options for revising poems by looking at work by a range of contemporary and canonical poets
- Strengthen your craft analysis and close reading skills by reading assigned work, thinking critically and creatively about it ahead of class time, and participating in class discussion
- Leave with three workshopped poems
- Build community with fellow poets, take risks together, and become more comfortable navigating workshop dynamics and discussion
Class meetings are two and a half hours. Every week, you will be expected to submit a poem to be workshopped; review assigned readings, including your peers' workshop submissions; and give written feedback on your peers' poems ahead of class time. Depending on how quickly you read and write, the time commitment for this workshop outside of class will be about two or three hours per week.