What is the title of your class?
Four Poems in Four Weeks
People should take this class if…
they want to try some new poetic modes that have been out there for a long time, but aren’t always what we think of when we think about poetry! In four weeks, this will be a whirlwind intro to elegy, imitation, narrative, and praise . . . and maybe a few other modes (and odes)!
Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how?
Are any of your works online and available to the public?
Yes! The web page for my most recent book, Mania Klepto: the Book of Eulene (2011), has a link to four poems from the book. The web page for A Change of Maps (2006) has three tabs: One for blurbs, one for review excerpts, and one with a sample poem. The Poetry Foundation‘s website has one tab for my bio and another for links to several of my poems published in Poetry magazine. The Summer/Fall 2013 issue of Triquarterly features the narrative poem, “Through Bus Windows: Seattle,” and my reading of it. My work can also be found in New Letters, where you can also find a very fun review by Katie Manning (provocatively entitled “How to Steal an Imaginary Friend”) of Mania Klepto: the Book of Eulene.
What’s your teaching philosophy?
I take to heart Hugo House’s motto—a place for writers, and a place to read words, hear words, and make our words better. So it is a wonderful place to teach writing . . . and foster the creative receptivity and engagement that enable us to write and function as writers in our community. In all courses I direct, I give related reading assignments and foster in-class discussion of representative works of American and international poetry and/or prose, as appropriate to the course’s genre. I urge class members to be alive to their contemporary surroundings—social, political, intellectual—to allow these circumstances to inform their creative and critical efforts, and to write from the perspective of their own backgrounds in the context of the broader society. My approach to teaching is quite personalized, and I always encourage class members to be creative in responding to prompts and in directing themselves as well in writing exercises.
Faulkner said to “kill your darlings.” Can you remember a specific darling you’ve killed and why? (Refrain from admitting to actual homicide in your Classy Talk Survey.)
I had to cut the word “panegyric” from a poem of praise!!!
What’s your favorite implement to write with? Why?
Ball-point pen on paper—for first drafts of poetry, this simple, low-tech writing action is very direct, physical, and tactile. Just like the “real world” that is the subject of poems!
What are you working on right now? What’s the hardest thing about it?
As a Senior Editor for Lost Horse Press, I am co-editing an anthology on women and work, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, forthcoming in Lost Horse’s Human Rights Series in late fall. The hardest thing is DECIDING—from so much urgent and timely work—what to select for inclusion; and then, writing those kind and encouraging rejection letters for the work that doesn’t quite fit. That is heart-rending! The most time-consuming thing about this editing is correspondence: Contacting editors and agents to clear permissions for some of the work, following up with contributors who haven’t responded yet, and asking for patience from follow-up queriers as we go through this painstaking process!
What’s your favorite word in the English vocabulary?
It’s a toss-up between “empyrean” and “phlogiston.” And I’m proud to say that I’ve been able to use both of them—once each!—in poems!