O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim …
—John Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale”
In the spirit of John Keats, in this weekly Friday night drop-in class we’ll attempt to drink from the cup of poetry and “leave the world unseen,” slipping into another realm as we reflect on the week behind us and look forward to the weekend ahead. Reading poems about intoxication and dissolution (of various kinds) and the heart ache behind them, we’ll think and write about the desire to fly away from what Keats called the “weariness, the fever, and the fret” while still being pulled back by the gravity of memory. We’ll explore what it means to be happy and whether that always harbors an unhappiness inside. Literal cups of wine will be available (upon donation) to help us with our transport. Sharing will be encouraged but optional. (Note that drop-in classes are not a forum for critique of work; students looking for critique should register for multi-week workshops.)
Named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture” by Brooklyn Magazine, Jason Koo is the founder and executive director of Brooklyn Poets and creator of the Bridge. A second-generation Korean American poet, he is the author of the poetry collections More Than Mere Light, America’s Favorite Poem and Man on Extremely Small Island and coeditor of the Brooklyn Poets Anthology. The winner of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center and New York State Writers Institute, he earned his BA in English from Yale, his MFA in creative writing from the University of Houston and his PhD in English and creative writing from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is an associate teaching professor of English at Quinnipiac University and lives in Beacon, NY.