Repetition & Variation

Building Music and Momentum

In prose, repetition is often disdained, but in poetry the tradition of repetition, from litanies to innovative free-verse structures, has a long, rich history of powerful effects. In this workshop, students will explore how to use repetition in their work, as well as variations—particularly the idea of the “meaningful variation” that allows form to breathe even within a strict structure. We’ll practice verse forms that rely on repetition and variation such as the villanelle, the pantoum and the ghazal, and incorporate their techniques in a range of free, invented forms. Readings will include poems by Walt Whitman, Elizabeth Bishop, Kenneth Koch, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, A.E. Stallings, Martin Espada, Amy Gerstler and Frederick Seidel, among others.

Workshop Details


Gregory Crosby is the author of Walking Away From Explosions in Slow Motion (The Operating System, forthcoming 2018), as well as the chapbooks Spooky Action at a Distance (The Operating System, 2014) and The Book of Thirteen (Yes Poetry Press, 2016). For more than a decade he worked as an art critic, columnist and cultural commentator in Las Vegas, where he served as a poetry consultant for the Cultural Affairs Division and was instrumental in the creation of the Poets Bridge public art project. He was awarded a Nevada Arts Council Fellowship in Literary Arts and holds an MFA in creative writing from the City College of New York, where he won the 2006 Marie Ponsot Poetry Prize. He is an adjunct associate professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and teaches creative writing at Lehman College–CUNY.