Poetry Knockout: “I’m Having a Moment: The Soliloquy”
Grackle and Grackle’s Poetry Knockout series brings some of the country’s favorite, award-winning poets in to teach advanced poetry students, via Zoom. In this topical Knockout exploring the many faces of the soliloquy through readings, discussion, workshops, and in-class generative exercises, Jason and Jennifer will alternate each session for four weeks. Before class begins, students will receive poems for the first night’s discussion. Starting the second week, class will commence with workshopping new poems, written during the previous week, based on ideas and prompts discussed in class. Poems for Wednesday workshops are due on Monday prior, noon CT.
This is will be an advanced class, open to poets who have taken multiple writing classes already. Please email me if you have any questions about it. (If you haven’t taken workshops with Grackle, but have taken plenty of workshops elsewhere, that works! You don’t have to prove it to me, just sign up!)
About The Soliloquy, The Class & The Poets
A soliloquy is a special kind of monologue, delivered by an actor in the absence of the other characters. The conceit is that the character is alone, and therefore can tell the truth, but guess what, audience, you’re right there. And chances are, if a character needs a soliloquy, their obligation to truth and their internal motivations are at odds.
In poetry, the soliloquy spurs the speaker to make a case—both to themselves and to their overhearing audience. In crafting this internal argument, the poet is spurred to risky thoughts, dizzying extrapolations, and exploration of the subconsciousness’ endless catacombs. Soliloquies hand us new tools: contradictions, clashing vernacular—and because no one is Shakespeare in their own heads—inarticulateness, and even animal sounds (see Browning’s “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister”). When we untether ourselves from sense, context, and resolution, exciting things start to happen as the lines of trust, truth, and voice are crossed and remixed.
Jennifer L. Knox is the author of five books of poetry in English, most recently Crushing It (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). She is currently at work on MYCYOWA, a traveling public art installation dedicated to increasing awareness of mycoremediation, supported by the the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the NEA. She has taught poetry writing at Hunter College, New York University, Iowa State University, and in her own series of private online classes. She lives in central Iowa and is the proprietor of Saltlickers, a small spice blend company.
Jason Schneiderman is the author of four books of poems, most recently Hold Me Tight (Red Hen 2020). He edited the anthology Queer: A Reader for Writers (Oxford UP 2016). His poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies; he is a longstanding co-host of the podcast Painted Bride Quarterly Slush Pile. His awards include the Shestack Award and a Fulbright Fellowship. He is an Associate Professor of English at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
Grackle image by Diana Rajala.