Ever had trouble reading blank verse? Hearing the beat? Understanding why anyone would choose to write poems by counting syllables and beats? In this five-week online workshop, students will discover the virtues and resources that have made the blank verse line the preeminent line of the English tradition, studying models from the Renaissance to the present and exploring why this remains a vital form today. Students will develop a feel for the form through exercises translating prose into verse and using monosyllabic words, then write and workshop their own original poems in blank verse that tap its expressive potential for speech and story: an autobiographical poem about a childhood memory, a dramatic monologue and a third-person narrative. Readings will include excerpts from Robert Pinsky’s The Sounds of Poetry as well as poems by Wordsworth, Tennyson, Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, Patricia Smith and more. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Sunday night, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink. Students can expect to leave the workshop with a deeper understanding of the metrical foundations of poetry in English; four new, workshopped poems; and written critiques of those poems.
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. 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.