People often talk about poetry as if it were some kind of magical improvisation. But for most poets it’s something more graspable: a collection of rhetorical techniques. One of the oldest and most powerful of these is versification. In this workshop, we’ll explore ways of putting the complex rhythms of English into nuanced relation with the fixed patterns of verse. We’ll look at the sonic, stylistic and semantic effects that can be achieved through expressive variation of emphasis and phrasing against meter and line. And we’ll attempt to demystify specific local and textural effects, and broader effects of movement, by discovering the techniques behind them. This will include a fair amount of nuts-and-bolts attention to language and also lots of fun and inspiring exercises. Participants will read and discuss one another’s poems as well as poems by masters of English-language poetic technique, from Sidney to Keats to Dickinson to Gwendolyn Brooks.
Joshua Mehigan’s second book, Accepting the Disaster, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2014 and has since been cited as a best book of the year in the New York Times Book Review, the Times Literary Supplement and other publications. Mehigan’s first book, The Optimist, was a finalist for the 2004 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His poems have appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times, Village Voice and Poetry, which awarded him its 2013 Levinson Prize. The recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Mehigan teaches creative writing at the College of Staten Island and is a faculty member of Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference. He lives in Windsor Terrace.