Poetry Workshop: Surprise

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

“all/the stuff they’ve always talked about/still makes a poem a surprise!”—Frank O’Hara

In this workshop, you will seek opportunities to surprise yourselves and one another. You’ll read books of (mostly) contemporary poetry, as well as essays on the art and other assorted prose—including an interview with Bill Murray. You’ll discuss and write about how poets use form, absurdity, humor, syntax, pattern variation, tone, defamiliarization, and other tools to surprising ends. You’ll hand in just one new poem per week, but you should be writing frequently enough to have a few from which to choose. Your creative work will be discussed in class and in conference; you will use what you discover from those conversations to revise poems for an end-of-semester portfolio. Together, we’ll also figure out ways to cultivate our ability to be surprised, not only in our reading and writing but in our experiences of the world.