“There is no person without a world,” writes Anne Carson in her phenomenal book An Autobiography of Red.
As poets, we understand our role as interpreters of the world. With every poem we write, we articulate a fragment of our world, translating for our readers the unique, specific, concrete, personal, painful, joyous, minute and vast experience that living is. If we can show slivers of our world with one poem, what might be revealed in fifteen–or fifty? What bigger world comes into view when our poems are read together? Each poem we write presents a city of thought, perhaps — a manuscript creates a world. In this class, we will begin to map, design and redesign the world our poems build when we bind them into a book.
This workshop is a manuscript-centered workshop, meaning that we will orient our discussions, our readings, our in-class writing and our feedback around the way multiple poems by a single author interact to build a book. Our poems, when read as an intentionally linked collection, can construct recurring concerns, themes, tensions and even, consciously or subconsciously, complex characters and plots. This course will employ tools designed to strengthen any poet’s manuscript draft through a series of in-class exercises, readings and take-home prompts centered on poem ordering, titling, table of contents, epigraphs, notes, attributions, formatting, sectioning and more. We will also cover relevant topics like book contests, open reading periods, major versus independent and university presses, and submission processes.
While all are welcome to join this class, poets with full-length or chapbook-length manuscripts will most likely get the most out of our workshop. A full-length manuscript is 48-100 pages. A chapbook-length manuscript is 16-36 pages. Because of the ambitious nature of this class, registrants should commit to reading and providing feedback on roughly one full-length manuscript a week. You will be rewarded with a new understanding of and passion for your own work, should you sign on. You may even see your work–and its world–in print.
CAIT WEISS ORCUTT’s work has appeared in Boston Review, Chautauqua, FIELD, and more. Her poems were nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and Best New Poets 2016, and her manuscript VALLEYSPEAK (Zone 3, 2017) won Zone 3 Press’ First Book Award and an IPPY Award for Poetry. Cait teaches creative writing at the University of Houston, Inprint, the Menil Collection, and the Jewish Community Center, and narrative medicine for Harris Country healthcare professionals. She is the recipient of an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor/MD Anderson Foundation Fellowship.