Inclusion, Omission, Precision Section III [Tony Hoagland]
Generally speaking, most poems don’t have enough in them. To begin with, they usually don’t have enough objective information in them—not enough spinach smoothies or stock brokers reading their iPhones on the escalator at Neiman Marcus; not enough rusty oil tankers and tarantulas hiding inside floral arrangements delivered to aging Mafiosi getting kidney transplants in Orlando.
Then there is emotional information. Five times out of six, the poet mistakenly believes that the reader intimately shares her or his subjectivity reality—is a sort of mind reader. But in fact the transmission received by the reader is fragmentary, and stuttering and incomplete—the situation is not thoroughly represented, or what is at stake is not made clear. Or the crucial, primary emotional nucleus of the poem is not clear to the writer herself. (This is an especially common phenomenon.) And so on!
Practically every good poem that has ever been written can be looked at through this lens—what has gotten into the poem? What has been left out? And has the writer choreographed this drama of the said and the unsaid with skillful precision, so that the reader experiences that gasp of participatory insight?
I believe that we grow as writers as a result of critical analysis—so in this workshop we will look at quite a few poems by other poets with these craft issues in mind. We will also practice many imitative exercises intended to develop skills and muscles relating to thoroughness and precision. You’ll learn more about your own poetic identity, or nature, and how to work with it.
What one most hopes to get from a workshop is not just a few promising poem-drafts but an enlarged repertoire of craft—some devices, muscles, gestures, and comprehensions that will make you a permanently better writer.
This one day class is offered on three separate dates. This class will meet on Monday, Sept. 15, 2014.