Here’s what I’ll be doing over the next two weeks…

2nd residency starts June 22nd. Can’t wait—need me some poetry fix NOW.

Faculty Talks:

Peter Cole—The Poet as Translator, The Translator as Poet

Lynn Emanuel—Architecture for Books of Poems
A (theoretical) consideration of the manuscript’s absent presence in writing workshop. This talk is not a “How To.” By examining the way several very different writers have structured books and long poetic sequences, we will examine the way we think (or don’t think) about metaphors for building a manuscript.


Ross Gay—Some Questions Regarding the Function of Syntax

Among the elements of a poem that have the ability to transfix and transform (diction, music, narrative, etc.) syntax seems often to be overlooked. But it is there, plain as day, in nearly every poem we remember—a perfectly wrought syntax. In this talk we will think about the ways syntax works in the work of Carl Phillips, Lucille Clifton, and Robert Creeley (among others), in the effort of understanding how we might more actively and astutely wrangle our own language into poems.

Aracelis Girmay—Methods of Descent
In this talk we will do a close reading of Gwendolyn Brooks’ “The Boy Died in My Alley” & Nazim Hikmet’s “I Made a Journey” (tr. Randy Blasing & Mutlu Konuk). Both of the poems are shape-shifters. Built to transform. Built to make us lose & find our place as we descend the page further into the poem’s meaning. We will explore the ways that line, repetition, landscape, possibility (“or”), & *contra*diction* push us to descend toward the final revelatory moments of the poems.


James Haba—The Unspeakable

The Unspeakable inevitably involves the unhearable. That which is too painful to speak of is also that which is too painful to hear. But we must proceed with caution when approaching pain: What actually causes us most pain? Perhaps we experience most pain in giving up the familiar, the assumed—what has up till this point passed as reality. A huge topic and little time. We will focus on T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and consider more briefly Taha Muhammad Ali’s “Revenge.” With luck we may also be able to glance at what we could also learn from The Bhagavad Gita. What do we have to lose?

Joan Larkin—“Pitched Past Pitch of Grief”: Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Terrible Sonnets
This talk will focus on the small group of Hopkins 1885 poems call “the terrible sonnets” or “sonnets of despair.” Hopkins wrote to Robert Bridges about one of these poems (most likely the one beginning “Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee”) that it was “written in blood.” We’ll look at how Hopkins’ wild music compels our attention—somehow, despite the expression of anguish, evoking joy.

Anne Marie Macari—Lyric Impulse in the Time of Extinction
Even in times of dire events—personal, social, or global—poets have unending faith in language and the metaphoric experience. We write, not as an escape, but as exploration, as discovery, and for solace. We write to take the leap from what we know (or think we know) into the unknown (metaphor). We will look at Elizabeth Alexander’s “The Dream I Told My Mother-in-law,” as well as work by Mark Doty, Nazim Hiket, and Theodore Roethke’s “The Lost Son,” as time allows.


Mihaela Moscaliuc—Translation: Poetics and Politics, Theory and Practice

We will discuss some of the pleasures, frustrations, and betrayals that accompany the act of translation, introduce some approaches to the process, and outline current trends in translation studies. Using examples from Romanian poetry written under communism and in its aftermath, I will underscore the importance of historical contextualization in the process of negotiating meaning.

Alicia Ostriker—Judy Grahn: Radical Vision, Formal Experiment
Judy Grahn (b. 1940) Oakland, Ca. activist founder of the Women’s Press Collective in the ‘70’s (i.e., same time as Harvey Milk), foremother of gay and lesbian movements and women’s spirituality movements, tours with Ani de Franco, etc. Grahn is the author of “The Common Woman Poems,” “A Woman is Talking to Death,” and “She Who,” among many other works. As a poet who fuses political and spiritual vision, and is incessantly experimental formallym, she can be compared with poets like Blake and Ginsberg. I want to look at what she does with language and rhythm in some of her most important work, ranging from the colloquial to rant and incantation.


Ira Sadoff—Structure: Strategies for Revision

Inexperienced writers sometimes think of revision as polishing surfaces, as making the poem look and sound good, like a new outfit. Structural revision, on the other hand, looks at a draft of the poem as a sculptural process. We’ll pay attention to detail selection, precedence in music and voice, seizing on and advancing impulse, what might be called a loose rendition of organic unity. We’ll also consider how to cut the decorative, rhetorical or narrative explanation. Some examples will include Charles Simic’s “The Partial Explanation,” Larry Levis’ “To a Wall of Flame,” Louise Gluck’s “Brenende Liebe,” and Billie Holiday’s, “Good Morning Heartache.”

Carey Salerno & Jonathan Thirkield—Life After the MFA
A conversation about writing and getting a first book published by two authors with new books. Bring your questions!

Gerald Stern—Interview
Students will come to the residency having read Stern’s American Sonnets. They should be prepared to interview him as a group about his book and his writing life.

Jean Valentine—Working With Tsvetaeva
This talk will look at some translations I am working on (with the Russian-American poet Ilya Kaminsky) of the great Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva whose poems are thought to be some of the greatest poems of the twentieth century, but who has yet to come to us in translations that capture her poems’ vision, depth, and beauty. This will be a practical conversation about Tsvetaeva and the process of translating her. The students will be encouraged to engage with the unfinished translations as we look for solutions together.

Michael Waters—The Erotic Imagination
Not what you think. “Aesthetic emotion puts man in a state favorable to the reception of erotic emotion…Art is the accomplice of love. Take love away and there is no longer art,” wrote Remy de Gourmont. Adelia Prado is more succinct: “it’s the soul that’s erotic.” In literature, eroticism—its yearning and anticipation—may be viewed as a style, one that subverts both traditional Romantic idealism and cool postmodern intellectualism. We may discuss works from the Bible and by Emily Dickinson, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Paul Blackburn, James Dickey, Audre Lorde, and Alice Notley.

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