The Art of Craft Series Spring 2014

The Art of Craft Spring 2014: A series of craft talks and workshops

The Art of Craft:
A series of craft talks and workshops for poets, poetry fans, and writing teachers
Mentor: Elliott batTzedek, MFA
Location: Big Blue Marble Bookstore

Dates and Topics:
Thursday Jan. 30th 7-9 pm Thinking Like a Poet I
Thursday Feb. 6th 7-9 pm Thinking Like a Poet II
Thursday Feb. 13th 7-9 pm A Density of Sound
Thursday Feb. 20th 7-9 pm Spines and Joints
Thursday Feb. 27th 7-9 pm Forms are a Poet’s Best Friend
Thursday March 6th 7-9 pm Measuring Meter
Thursday March 13th 7-9 pm Walking the Line
Thursday March 20th 7-9 pm Case Study: The Persona Poem

Welcome to the Art of Craft, an ongoing series of craft lessons and workshops by Big Blue Marble Writer-in-Residence Elliott batTzedek. Each week we’ll take on a different element of the poet’s craft through learning, discussion, and hands-on work with poems by many of the best contemporary poets.

The Art of Craft is for poets, for poetry fans who want to learn more about the art, and for writing teachers who want to bring new tools to their students. An ongoing writers’ workshop will also be available for poets who want to apply these elements to expand and deepen their own work. More information about each topic is below.

Cost: The craft sessions are $40 each, $75 for any two, $130 for any four, or $250 for the series of eight. Philadelphia public-school teachers (or staff who work with kids) may enroll for $15 each or $120 for the whole series. Discounts are also available if you bring a friend; please email me for more information.

Pre-registration and a deposit are required. Please email Elliott at or register online at: Art of Craft Series Registration The fee includes all handouts and materials.

A writers’ workshop is also available, meeting weekly for 8 sessions from January through March of 2014. The cost is $200 for one poet or $300 for 2 (that is, bring a friend and you each save $50!). Workshops will include reviews of craft elements, writing exercises, and discussions of our poems. Register online at: Art of Craft Writers’ Workshop

About the Topics:

Thinking Like a Poet I—Rather than asking, What does a poem mean? this series asks How does a poem mean?, a question we’ll answer through studying aspects of the poet’s craft. In the first section we’ll be exploring:
Formal/Big Strategies
Music and Clatter
Words, Diction, un-Microwaveable Language

Thinking Like a Poet II—We continue exploring how poems work, focusing on:
Time and Space

A Density of Sound—How does the poem sing? What is the chatter, the clatter, the smooth move, the structure, the improv? How do poets use sound to structure the poem and to convey its emotion, context, meaning, and urgency?

Spines and Joints—What is the central axis of your poem? Where does it bend, rotate, flex? How and when do other voices/views come into the poem?

Forms are a Poet’s Best Friend—While free-verse has been the dominant form of U.S. poetry in English since the mid-20th century, poetic forms have never disappeared as useful poetic tools. Poets use, stretch, modify and bend forms, and even the most free of verses can be built on the echo of very traditional forms.

Measuring Meter—The inherent meters of English live in everything we write. We’ll study how meter control the pace and meaning of poems, and how to use meter as a tool for revising.

Walking the Line—Never again worry about where to put in line breaks—because lines don’t break. Lines end, when their work in the poem is complete. Break the myth of the break, and free your lines to be the great engines of your writing.

Case Study: The Personal Poem—Persona poems, or poems that speak in a first person voice that is clearly not the voice of the poet, have been adapted to many interesting uses in the past decades. We’ll look at some of the most original and most startling voices, while considering structural issues such as how poets enter and leave the persona poem.


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