Poetic Calisthenics: Four ways to stretch what you know about writing poems

with Valerie Bandura Workshop Type: 4-Week, All Levels, In-Person, Poetry, Unlisted
Length: 4-Week
Genre: Poetry
Type: In-Person
Skill Level: This workshop is suitable for writers of all skill levels.
Location: ASU Campus, Tempe
From: Wednesday, 02 October 2013
To: Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Time: 6–8pm

Workshop Description

We’ve all worked out ways to write the poems we like to write. We like our ways because they are known to us. But to paraphrase an unlikely source of wisdom and clarity, Donald Rumsfeld, there are unknown unknowns, things we don’t know we don’t know. Each week, we will challenge our way of writing by studying new ways of speaking and seeing, weaving content and making meaning. We will study writers who use these particular tricks in different ways. And we will incorporate these new methods into our own work to share as a group.

Over the course of four weeks, students will explore new ways in interacting with their writing, produce new material, have the chance to share work in a supportive and guided setting, be exposed to new contemporary writers, and connect with writers in their area through the workshop setting.

Workshop Outline

Week 1: Metaphor

Metaphor: Making metaphor is the central impulse for poetry. First, we will take a closer look at how we use sight and association to make metaphor with a series of writing exercises. We will then read a handout of poems that make metaphors in unusual and interesting ways. Finally, we will use images, gestures, video clips, and other media sources to make meaning.

Homework: Write a poem that uses sensory information from objects or action to make meaning.

Week 2: Tone

Share poems from the previous week.

Tone: Many poems I read tend to be written with great sincerity. There’s nothing wrong with sincerity, as long as we know that sincerity is as much a tonal choice as other ways of speaking. We will read some poems from a handout that challenge our usual poetic tonal experience. And we will explore tonal shifts through written exercises.

Homework: Write a poem that makes a distinct tonal choice.

Week 3: Point of View

Share poems from the previous week.

Point of View: Point of view is generally associated with fiction writers. But from what perspective we choose to look at a scene, a person, an action, an object, is a technique we as poets can borrow in surprising ways. To practice greater control of our use of point of view, we will retell current tabloid stories from someone other than the person to whom the action happened. Then we will read some poems from a handout that takes advantage of perspective.

Homework: Write a poem using a current event from an unexpected perspective.

Week 4: Weaving and Expanding

Share poems from the previous week.

Weaving and Expanding: As poets we learn to cut back, cut down, cut out. But whittling is not the only way. Either in draft form or in the final version, adjectives, or whole narratives that initially seem extraneous or tangential, can inform, direct, layer, and texture a poem. We will study some poems from a handout that expand where we may not expect so, and weave where our impulses may urge us to trim back. We will also have time to try expanding and weaving with our own narratives or lyrics.

Limited Enrollment
Notice: Registration for this workshop is now closed.

Valerie Bandura photoAbout Valerie Bandura

Valerie Bandura’s collection of poems, Freak Show (Balck Lawrence Press, 2013) was a 2014 Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. Her poems are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, and have appeared in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, Alaska Quarterly Review, ZYZZYVA, Mid-American Review, Cimarron, Third Coast, Best New Poets anthology, and many other journals. Born in the former Soviet Union, Bandura received degrees from Columbia University and the Warren Wilson MFA Program, where I served as the Joan Beebe Teaching Fellow. She was awarded a residency from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the James Merrill Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. She teaches writing at Arizona State University and at the Piper Center for Creative Writing.

Notice: Registration for this workshop is now closed.

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