Stretching Tension

Transitioning Through Poems

Edith Wharton said, “My last line is latent in my first,” and this workshop will help students structure poems by creating an “initial problem” then moving through that problem, utilizing linear or nonlinear transitions. The goal is not to create a systematic “paint by numbers” poem but to understand how a poem creates and stretches tension by using inductive or deductive reasoning, by paratactical or hypotactictal linking of sentences in a stanza, by restarting when using a refrain, or by a combination of some or all of these techniques. We will use locality, language and image as grounding lenses and look at poems by Walt Whitman, Marianne Moore, Lucille Clifton, Francisco Alarcon, Louise Glück, Tony Hoagland, Claudia Rankine, Natalie Diaz, Jamaal May, francine j harris, Tarfia Faizullah and others for examples of various poetic structures.

Workshop Details


David Tomas Martinez’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Poetry, Ploughshares and Oxford American, among many other journals, and he has been featured or written about in Poets & Writers, Publishers Weekly, NPR’s All Things Considered and other venues. Martinez received his MFA from San Diego State University and is currently a PhD candidate in poetry at the University of Houston, where he is the Reviews and Interviews Editor for Gulf Coast. A Bread Loaf and CantoMundo Fellow, his debut collection of poetry, Hustle (Sarabande Books, 2014), won the New England Book Festival’s prize in poetry.