The Line

It’s easy to take the poetic line for granted. As the main shared feature of most types of poetry, it’s always there. But what is a line? What makes it tick? What are its expressive purposes? In this workshop, we’ll examine approaches to the line as it’s been developed throughout history, from the earliest accentual verse to accentual-syllabic verse to contemporary free verse. We’ll work with a variety of sonic, stylistic and semantic effects, focusing on the expressive relationships between meter and rhythm, syntax and line, line and phrase. Our readings will aim to demystify the power of the line by discovering the techniques behind it. Finally, we’ll touch on the ways individual lines build toward larger poetic forms. We’ll read works by Shakespeare, Herbert, Keats, Byron, Tennyson, Dickinson, H.D., Stevens, Eliot, Moore, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and more.

Workshop Details


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 a 2011 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Mehigan currently teaches creative writing at the College of Staten Island. He is a faculty member of Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference and has led poetry workshops at Stonecoast Writers’ Conference and the West Chester University Poetry Conference. He lives in Windsor Terrace.