Grackle artwork by Heather O’Hara
In Keat’s Odes: A Lover’s Discourse, Anahid Nersessian writes, “There was nothing Keats loved more than us. His poetry is a record of that love and its wild, inconvenient expression. It is a lover’s discourse, at once compassionate, exacting, indecent, and pure.” The nature of Keats’ odes – wildly entangled in the lacework of the world’s objects, explicating them in the service of love, are a perfect model for the nature of this class.
How to write a love poem without sounding sappy? How to avoid the most accurate cliches while still invoking the cliche’s meaning? How to tell your lover you love them by going beyond the word “love”? These are all questions we will ask and answer in this weekend workshop, by reading love poems that surprise us with all the myriad and staggering ways you can tell someone “I love you.”
Potential poets on the roster include John Keats, Jennifer Grotz, Matthew Olzmann, Willie Perdomo, and Monica Youn. We will discuss and interrogate what makes each poem a “love” poem as opposed to any other kind of poem, while investigating how each poet either avoids or utilizes cliched language to their advantage. We will then use their strategies and methods to write our own love poems hopefully as gifts to our partners on Valentine’s day.
Maha Ahmed is an English Literature & Creative Writing PhD candidate at the University of Houston. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon where she was recipient of the Promising Scholar Award. Her poetry and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Grist, The Adroit Journal, 580 Split, Rusted Radishes, The Recluse, and elsewhere. Her critical and creative work explores the Arab-American diaspora, World Literature, translation, and global feminism. She edits poetry for the Beirut-based literary magazine Rusted Radishes. Find her on twitter @mahaahmed81.