Beyond Limits

Reversing Verse Forms

Lucie-Brock Broido prefaced her private poetry anthology for Columbia grad students with the following credo: “Prose proceeds; verse reverses.” This offered a suitable update to Robert Frost’s stringent terms for poetry, that to write free verse was to play “tennis without a net.” The world is imperiled, cracked and bleeding Arctic ice caps, operating only under the shadow of structure. Still, our best poems function under the guise of restraint. In this workshop, we’ll explore the limits of form, experimenting with just how far we can push the rules, whether we’re working with villanelles, sestinas, sonnets or other forms. Poets who already have an awareness of form are encouraged to take this workshop. We’ll closely examine poems by poets who agitate tradition, such as LaTasha Nevada Diggs, Lo Kwa Mei-en, Olena Kalytiak Davis, Derrick Austin and Joyce Sutphen. We’ll investigate verse forms and how beautifully they can rupture to yield a language beyond their limits.

Workshop Details


Natalie Eilbert is the author of Indictus (Noemi Press, 2018), winner of the 2016 Noemi Press Book Award in Poetry, Swan Feast (Bloof Books, 2015) and the chapbooks Conversation with the Stone Wife (Bloof Books, 2014) and And I Shall Again Be Virtuous (Big Lucks, 2014). Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Tin House, Granta, jubilat and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2016–17 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and is the founding editor of the Atlas Review.