In “We’re Building the Ship as We Sail It,” poet Kay Ryan writes: “It’s awkward to have do one’s planning in extremis in the early years — so hard to hide later: sleekening the hull, making things more gracious.” This class considers poetry as something we are always in the middle of. We are called upon to improvise—to innovate—and yet some necessary structure, perhaps also a bit of rigging or a rudimentary motor, must first be assembled.
How, in so few words, does an “awkward” first draft become a “more gracious” poem? To address this question, we’ll talk trope and verse, sentence and syntax, meditation and lyricism. Attention will be paid to the art of reading poetry aloud for a public audience. We will also discuss revision strategies and opportunities for publication. While advanced poets are welcome, no prior experience writing poetry is required.