What is the title of your class? Sustaining Wonder: the Art of Narrative in Poetry
People should take this class if… they want to understand and practice storytelling strategies to generate longer narrative poems and to keep them going.
Robert Hass has written that human beings “can’t sustain wonder.” Yet that’s the challenge facing the narrative poem: how to sustain wonder beyond the lyric moment of inspiration into the narrative momentum of the story. In this workshop designed to create and share new work, we’ll explore strategies to generate longer narrative poems and to keep them going. We will consider poetic forms, including prose poems, which lend themselves to narrative voices and rhythms: sequence, collage, narrative, reflection, and epic. Whether you’re just contemplating a voyage or you’ve already set out across the wine-dark sea, this workshop will help you to sustain wonder in your journey.
Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how? Facebook!
Are any of your works online and available to the public?
Here are links to some of my work available online—much of it is narrative!
The first link is to the web page for my most recent book, Mania Klepto: the Book of Eulene (2011), which has a link to four poems from the book.
The second link is to the web page for A Change of Maps (2006). This web page has three tabs: one for blurbs, one for review excerpts, and one with a sample poem.
The third link is to my information on the Poetry Foundation’s website, which has one tab for bio and the other for links to the poems of mine published so far in Poetry Magazine.
The fourth link is for a poem published in the current issue of Triquarterly, (#144, Summer 2013). This is a longstanding literary magazine, now online only, based at Northwestern University. There is also my recording of the poem.
What excites you about the material you’re teaching?
I love the intersections between poetry and prose, the lyric and narrative voice, the storytelling that can happen in poetry, and the poetry that can happen in storytelling.
Tell us a bit about your previous teaching experience.
Too much to tell — 40 years’ worth! — at small private colleges, large public universities, large private universities (including Harvard and Emory), high schools (as a poet in the schools), and writers conferences and festivals around the country. I’ve taught everything from freshman composition to graduate seminars in South Asian Literature, with a lot of creative writing (poetry, creative nonfiction, memoir, and translation) in the mix.
And I’ve been teaching at Hugo House since 2005. Courses such as—
“Speak, Muse!”–the Art of Narrative Poetry
Fictional Poetry: the Persona Poem
Passion of Place—Reading and Writing the Land in Verse
Flowers from the Volcano: Reading Poets of Latin America.
Poets’ Companions: Creating and Critiquing Together
Poets of Other Cultures: a Yearlong Reading Course (2006-2007)
Journey to the End of the World with Pablo Neruda:
a Bilingual Reading and Writing Course
Sexing the Simile: Creating Alluring Figures of Speech (That was a fun one! 🙂
Ravishing Disunities: Writing Like Agha Shahid Ali
Miracles for Breakfast—Writing Like Elizabeth Bishop (and Friends)
What do you like best about teaching at Hugo House?
I like the mix of students — of all ages and backgrounds and professions — and they are all motivated! They all want to be there, learning more about writing and sharing their work and their experiences with their peers and their instructors. Hugo House fosters a true community learning environment.
What’s the best piece of writing you’ve read in the past year?
Too many to name!
What books made you want to write?
Books of poetry by William Stafford, Richard Hugo, Madeline DeFrees, Elizabeth Bishop, Pablo Neruda, W. S. Merwin, James Dickey, David Wagoner, and many others! Plus Shakespeare, Melville, and the Bronte sisters!
If there was one piece of advice you could give an aspiring writer, what would it be?
Read read read! And write write write! These are the absolute basics.
If you were to meet your favorite writer in person later today, what would you say to them?
Thank you for your work and your example!
What are you reading now? If you could pair it with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise), what would you choose?
Models of the Universe, edited by Stuart Friebert & David Young. I would pair this tome with absinthe, but I could never drink that, so I’d grab a glass of merlot!