Just This and Only Everything: If, When and How to Use Description

Each of the poems we’ll look at in this three-hour craft lab describe an action in meticulous detail. But how do those details allow for commentary, context and associative leaps? How do you communicate both the physical and emotional reality of a moment? This isn’t just about description, or how the amount of patient detail you grant a poem can lend it weight. This is about filling in the gap between what you notice with your senses, and what you know to be actually happening. The poems we’ll read and write together are where careful observation meets context, seen through your particular eye and defined by your particular experiences. They’ll be keyholes—that small—to which we put our eyes, and on the other side is everything. Fear and bravery, wonder and melancholy, history and catharsis.

All participants will have access to a cloud recording of the craft lab for one month afterward.

Craft Lab Details


Jon Sands

Jon Sands is a winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series, selected for his second book, It’s Not Magic (Beacon Press, 2019). He is the facilitator of the Emotional Historians workshop, a series of generative writing workshops that you can find out more about on Instagram at @iAmJonSands. His work has been featured in the New York Times as well as anthologized in Best American Poetry. He teaches at Brooklyn College and Urban Word NYC and for over a decade has facilitated a weekly writing workshop for adults at Baily House, an HIV/AIDS service center in East Harlem. He tours extensively as a poet, but lives in Brooklyn.