Building on Denise Levertov’s classic essay, “Organic Form,” in which she argues each poem has an intrinsic shape, we will consider the imposition of form on our own poems. We may default to predetermined structures of our own devising that are just as strict as the conventional forms we seldom use. Poems themselves can dictate mode—narrative, lyrical, elliptical, documentary, epiphantic, descriptive, and so forth—as well as guide line lengths and white space. How can we hear the inner structure of a poem-in-progress? Poets will be asked to read Levertov’s essay, answer a pre-class questionnaire, and submit three poems for group discussion. Day 2 of the class will be individual conferences.
Martha Serpas’s poetry collections include Côte Blanche, The Dirty Side of the Storm, and The Diener; her work has appeared in magazines and journals like The New Yorker, Poetry, and the Southern Review. She co-produced Veins in the Gulf, a documentary about southern Louisiana’s coastal erosion crisis. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, Serpas returned to teach there as a visiting professor. She has also taught at Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion’s Glen Workshop East and Seattle Pacific’s low-residency MFA program in writing and spirituality. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Houston and serves as a hospital trauma chaplain.