To argue that puns, those silly-seeming word games, still deserved a place in serious poetry, James Merrill quoted Wallace Stevens: “There is no wing like meaning.” Merrill added: “Two are needed to get off the ground.” Why is it that so many poems we write have a heart but no pulse? a mouth, but no voice? Why do some poems prefer the calm safety of what we already knew, rather than the exhilarating swoop into what we never see coming, even if we re-read again and again? In this ten-week online generative workshop, we will look at poems that satisfy and challenge literary thrill-seekers. We’ll put our analytical skills to the test to try and find out: Whence this magic? Whence this unabashed freedom? From our discussions will emerge a series of techniques that we will subsequently put into practice, with some added guidance from the instructor.
Justin Jannise is the author of to Be Better by Being Worse, which won the 2020 A. Poulin, Jr. Prize for Poetry and is forthcoming in April 2021 from BOA Editions, Ltd. Now a Ph.D. student at the University of Houston, Justin previously received recognition for his writing at both Yale University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 2019, his poems appeared in both Best New Poets and Best of the Net, and Copper Nickel nominated his poem “Leather Jacket” fora Pushcart Prize. His writing has also been published by Hobart, Electric Lit, Lana Turner, Yale Review, New Ohio Review, and The Pinch Journal. A recipient of the Inprint Verlaine Prize in poetry, he is the former Editor-in-Chief of Gulf Coast.