The Poem’s Ending

How should poems end, and how do you pull off an ending that feels both unexpected and inevitable? In this five-week online workshop, we’ll develop our ear for landings that can pleasurably shock the reader and reinform the poem overall. Rilke’s edict (“You must change your life”) will provide us with a starting point as we look at poems by Louise Glück, Thomas James, Philip Larkin, Rachel Zucker, James Wright, Stanley Kunitz, and Phillip B. Williams, among others. We’ll consider the music of a great last line; how to end on an image without embellishment; what the place of surprise is in the lyric poem; how to earn the ending without being manipulative; and more. By the end of the workshop, we’ll have crafted five new poems attuned to the impact of their closings and the silence they leave in their wake. Weekly work for the course will be done asynchronously on Wet Ink, and the professor will provide video introductions to course material and assignments and, at the end of the course, a one-on-one video conference with each student.

Workshop Details


Jay Deshpande is the author of Love the Stranger (YesYes Books, 2015), named one of the top debuts of 2015 by Poets & Writers, and the chapbook The Rest of the Body (YesYes Books, 2017). A Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and the winner of the Scotti Merrill Memorial Award and Narrative‘s Annual Poetry Contest, he has also received fellowships from Kundiman, Civitella Ranieri and the Key West Literary Seminar. His poems have recently appeared in Denver Quarterly, Washington Square, LARB Quarterly Journal and Horsethief. He holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, and he has taught workshops for Poets House, the Academy of American Poets, Rutgers and the MFA program at Columbia University.