Former Poet Laureate Rita Dove says that “poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” Yet many readers still struggle to understand the meanings of poems. In this craft lab, we’ll dive into what’s going on when we read a poem and think, “That doesn’t make sense.” Looking at examples of sense and nonsense in the work of several poets, we’ll explore the different techniques poets use to balance meaning and mystery, and we’ll generate new work together through a set of unconventional exercises, drawing on the themes of sense and nonsense, engendering new ideas about writing. As there is a profound relationship between reading poetry and writing it, together we’ll read, discuss, and even recite the work of several poets whose examples might lead us to a further honing of our craft.
All participants will have access to a cloud recording of the craft lab for one month afterward.
Craft Lab Details
Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. He is also the author of the collection The Tradition (2019), which was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award and the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His poems have appeared in Buzzfeed, the Nation, New York Times, New Yorker, New Republic, Time, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and several volumes of the Best American Poetry anthologies. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta.