From August through November 2017, I’ll be hosting a reading group here. It’s free and open to the public. This is neither a traditional class nor a poetry workshop. The purpose is to study craft in community—to think together about how a poem is made—and to come out the other end of this study with some poem-inspiration (or revision-inspiration) and an idea for a craft essay or book review.
Every month we’ll be reading between 100-200 pages from three different books: Jerry Harp’s For Us, What Music, Compendium, edited by David Koehn & Alan Soldofsky, and Donald Justice’s Collected Poems. You’re welcome to join in regardless of how much you’ve read. You do you. And if you have to skip a month, please come back again when things quiet down.
Who This Group is For
The short answer: everyone. Whether you’re a poet with five books or a high school student who just loves reading, this place is for you. More specifically, though, if you’re looking to study prosody or need more community or accountability in your current reading practices, this space is for you.
If you’re a poet interested in writing essays, this is a group for you. By focusing on a single author, you’ll finish the reading group at the end of November with extensive knowledge about Donald Justice’s life and work, which could be funneled into a book review, a critical essay, or a craft essay.
Why I’m Doing This
I teach in Sierra Nevada College’s MFA Program, and this semester I want to try something a little different for my students. In our program, students work one-on-one with a single professor during the semester. For folks who aren’t familiar with the low-residency model, this semester-long class is a lot like an apprenticeship. This semester, these books will form a portion of our syllabus and my students will be invited to participate here as often (or not) as they’d like. I love the low-residency model because of the white-hot intensity of working with a single teacher, but I also imagine that some students might thrive better with a larger discussion. So this is a gesture toward that student. It’s also a place for former SNC students (or any former students!) who are eager for a little classroom community.
The idea for this group has come out of a lot of conversations with poets about collaboration, reading practices, and figuring out how to regularly read and write. In particular, I’m grateful to CAConrad, Curtis Emery, Hannah Ensor & Jill Darling for their questions, proddings, and thoughts about living a life full of poetry. I’m also thankful for models like the 95 ₵ Skool and Hoa Nguyen’s Workshops, which are thinking about how to bring poetry conversations out of the classroom and into the living room.