Drafts are like poems where the paint is still wet: you have an idea of what your work looks like, but you’re still down to mess with it to see what else it can do and be. But to know what alternative futures might wait within a poem sometimes means seeing it from a distance or at a slant—to see it with new eyes, or from someone else’s.
This five-week, online workshop frames revision as re-vision: as seeing your poems—and what they’re capable of—again. Every week we’ll read each other’s work, responding with first impressions, close readings and other reactions and interpretations to give each other feedback on how it’s all coming across. We’ll review strategies for asking more specific questions, paying closer attention and making more intentional decisions at the microscales of sound and format. We’ll also play around with constraints, experiments and radical edits to unsettle existing language and push poems into unanticipated directions. Beginning the second week, students will have one poem per week workshopped and will give verbal and written feedback on their peers’ poems. Every week, students will also read work by a range of poets—Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, Sebastian Castillo, Abigail Chabitnoy, Noah Falck, Annelyse Gelman, Sheila Heti, Bob Kaufman, Marianne Moore, Xan Phillips, Richard Siken, Gertrude Stein, Wendy Xu and others—and we’ll borrow their techniques, strategies and ideas to experiment with new versions of our own poems. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.
Rachelle Toarmino is a poet from Niagara Falls, New York. She is the author of the poetry collection That Ex and the chapbooks Comeback, Feel Royal and Personal & Generic. Her poems and essays on poetry have appeared in American Poetry Review, Bennington Review, Electric Literature, Iterant, Literary Hub, Salt Hill, the Slowdown and elsewhere. She earned her MFA in poetry at UMass–Amherst, where she received an Academy of American Poets Prize. She is also the founding editor-in-chief of Peach Mag, an independent literary publishing project, as well as the founder and lead instructor behind Beauty School, a new independent poetry school. She lives in Buffalo.