Craft Lab:
Prosody and Its Decolonization

The pleasure of patterned sound is at the root of why we make and read poetry. Yet prosody, or the technical study of sound and rhythm, has a peculiar relationship to contemporary practice. Many developing poets wonder: Do I need to care about prosody? Or is it simply the purview of literary scholars, the stuff of academic, bloodless analysis? Even the word “prosody” might seem a bit technical and unfeeling.

In this craft lab, we’ll take a more personal approach to prosody, exploring what it can mean to us and why. Drawing upon his own experience as a young poet, Jay Deshpande will discuss the values of developing a technical understanding of sound and meter. At the same time, prosody and the study of formal verse have often been tied exclusively to white, Western European notions of the poetic tradition. Over the course of the afternoon, we’ll consider an expanded definition of prosody while exploring a number of ways it can help us as readers and writers to engage with language more deeply and to build our poems to greater sonic satisfaction.

This one-day lab will feature multiple writing exercises and prompts to help you engage with poetic form and develop your prosodic chops. By the end, you’ll have grounding in how to read and scan traditional English verse forms; you’ll also have a new set of tools to adapt the logic of prosody to your own writing. Additionally, we’ll critically explore how we relate to the history of different verse forms from around the world, with the goal of engaging multiple poetic traditions more flexibly and consciously.

Craft Lab Details

Jay  DeshpandeJay Deshpande is the author of Love the Stranger (YesYes Books, 2015), named one of the top debuts of 2015 by Poets & Writers, and the chapbooks The Rest of the Body (YesYes Books, 2017) and The Umbrian Sonnets (PANK Books, 2020). A 2018–20 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and the winner of the Scotti Merrill Memorial Award and Narrative‘s Annual Poetry Contest, he has also received fellowships from Kundiman, Civitella Ranieri, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. His poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, New Republic and New England Review, among many other places. He is an advisory editor for Northwest Review and writes criticism for Guernica, Pleiades, Kenyon Review and Boston Review. He holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and has taught workshops for Poets House, the Academy of American Poets and Columbia’s MFA program. Deshpande started teaching for Brooklyn Poets in 2017, quickly becoming one of our most popular teachers and selling out all fourteen of his workshops and mentorship courses since that time. He is our most sought-after mentor on the Bridge and the leader of our Mentorship Program.