What is the title of your class?
Sustaining Wonder: the Art of Narrative Poetry
People should take this class because?
Besides being fun, writing in various poetic forms helps you achieve surprising leaps and turns in your use of language–you write things you never thought you would be capable of! That’s been my experience with writing in form–lyric, narrative, fractured, and fractal! And I started as a totally free-verse poet! Focusing so closely on words and patternings of words is great for all your writing–in any genre of prose or poetry!
What are you reading right now?
- Here, Bullet by Brian Turner
- Blue Front by Martha Collins
- Lucifer: a Hagiography by Philip Memmer
What excites you about the material you’re teaching?
I love seeing what happens with prose and free verse that finds more strength and energy and *authority* in form–whether it’s a form we’ve all heard of (the dreaded sonnet!) or *nonce* forms like abecedarians, acrostics, and rounds. Great for story-telling, too!
What do you like best about teaching at Hugo House?
The students! Everyone wants to be there, learning to be better writers, readers, and participants in the greater culture! And students challenge me to be a better writer and more responsive teacher. It’s totally a community of writers–as a community literary center should be!
I also like the fact that the building used to be a funeral home! Many writerly wraiths haunting the Hugo-esque hallways to breath their inspiration into us!
What books made you want to write?
Too many! But poets like Elizabeth Bishop, Madeline DeFrees, Dick Hugo, Carolyn Kizer, Pablo Neruda, William Stafford, David Wagoner got me started, right here in Seattle!
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
“Keep your sh*t detectors on!” That was from Richard Hugo himself, on being honest with yourself in writing!
If you could have coffee with any author living or dead, who would it be?
Sappho? It would be wonderful to understand and speak her form of ancient Greek, and we could spend the time recovering all of her lost poetry. Most likely she had much of it memorized; she could recite, and a small technical crew at the next table could record, transcribe, and produce it.
But she would probably be drinking wine, or retsina, or ouzo! 🙂
What’s your favorite book? If you could pair it with a glass of wine or a pint of beer, what would you choose?
Cabernet Sauvignon with Pablo Neruda’s “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair”?
Caipirinha (Brazilian cachaça with sugar and lime) with Elizabeth Bishop’s “Collected Poems,” “”One Art” (her collected letters) and her collected prose? Most apt for this class 🙂