module 1

Module 1: Poetry as a Built Environment

In this module you will:

  • Understand the concept of iterative writing as we’ll use it in this class
  • Choose a focus for your iterative writing
  • Choose a detail from one of your previously-written poems to expand in its own new poem using repetition as a central
  • Make connections between the process/products of architecture and creative writing


  • Begin by watching the film The Sketches of Frank Gehry (see below). This film talks about the iterative process Gehry uses between drawing and making models. He begins with an idea and then switches between sketching, creating a mock-up, and talking with his team about his vision. This is what we’ll be doing in this class. I’m asking you to start with one idea and do some exercises to generate new writing which may function as “sketches” or “studies” toward the final poem rather than the final poem itself. (It’s also possible that you’ll leave workshop with multiple poem drafts you’d like to keep revising.) The workshop will then become a conversation about your works in progress and the idea behind them. While you watch the Gehry film, please take notes about connections (or differences) between architectural practice and the practice of writing. We’ll talk about this in our first class.
  • After watching the film, please go to your Architecture Workbook (which you can download at the bottom of this page) and complete the exercises for Module 1.
  • Finally, read the 2 poems by C.D. Wright (see bottom of page). They give an example of what iterative writing can look like in its final drafts. When you’re reading, pay particular attention to the way Wright uses repetition in the “Detail” poem. Then choose a poem you’ve already written (this is the one poem which probably won’t follow the theme in your iterative writing) which has a small mention (mention of a detail or image or moment) that you can expand. Expand using C.D. Wright’s poems as an example. For example, you might consider a repeating pattern that you can use to refocuses the reader’s mind on the most striking elements of your detail or image or moment, changing or rearranging adjectives, nouns, verbs in each subsequent phrase. Consider the use of fragments and punctuation as you decide how you want the reader’s mind to linger on or gloss over the repeating pattern. Notice how C.D. Wright’s “Detail” poem has no punctuation until the last line. The last line is a full sentence with a full stop at the end, which leads the reader to a feeling of closure. This writing should take about 40 minutes. You may not feel finished with the poem by that time, but you’re welcome to stop there. If you don’t want to leave the poem, consider taking a few notes on how to continue and coming back to it after you’ve completed all the prep work.