The DIY of Truth: A Poem by You

This craft lab takes its point of departure from Giambattisa Vico’s notion of verum factum: maker’s knowledge. Vico (1668–1744) was an Italian political philosopher and rhetorician who argued that truth is verified through creation or invention and not, as per Descartes, through observation: “The criterion and rule of the true is to have made it. Accordingly, our clear and distinct idea of the mind cannot be a criterion of the mind itself, still less of other truths. For while the mind perceives itself, it does not make itself.”

Seen in this light, lectures and discussions about poetry and poetic craft do not reveal how a poem moves; only making a poem reveals what a poem is made of. Accordingly, this generative craft lab will advocate for the do-it-yourself dimensions of writing. We’ll read and discuss works by Linh Dinh, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Yusef Komunyakaa, Christian Bok, Steve Scafidi and Krista Franklin as we construct poems in response to creative prompts and questions. Each participant will ultimately build an “ars poetica manifesto for a poem by you,” drawing upon their own personalized ingredients of image, figurative language, diction and syntax.

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

Craft Lab Details

Terrance HayesTerrance Hayes is the author of six poetry collections: American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin, a finalist for the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award and TS Eliot Prize; How to Be Drawn; Lighthead, winner of the 2010 National Book Award for poetry; Wind in a Box; Hip Logic, a 2001 National Poetry Series winner; and Muscular Music, recipient of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. His prose collection To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. Hayes has received fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation and Whiting Foundation. He is a professor of English at New York University.