Humor in Poetry
W.H. Auden once remarked, “A sense of humor develops in a society to the degree that its members are simultaneously conscious of being each a unique person and of being all in common subjection to unalterable laws.” In this workshop, we’ll embrace both our uniqueness and our common subjection and treat humor as the Swiss Army knife of rhetorical devices: one that can create surprise, generate connection, present a fresh perspective and position ordinary observations in unordinary ways. Steering clear of so-called light verse, this workshop will take an in-depth look at the role humor can play in “serious” poetry. We’ll take a look at the work of Kenneth Koch, Sarah Gambito, Tommy Pico, Danez Smith, Patricia Lockwood, Ilya Kaminsky, Morgan Parker and many more as we explore the way humor works in our own poems.
Laura Eve Engel is the author of Things That Go (Octopus Books, 2019). A recipient of fellowships from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, her work can be found in the Nation, Best American Poetry, Boston Review, PEN America, Tin House and elsewhere. She has taught courses in creative writing, literature and composition at the University of Houston, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Fordham University, among other places, and for ten years she worked with high-school-age writers and new teachers at the University of Virginia’s Young Writers Workshop, where she served as residential program director from 2012 to 2017. A musician in the off-hours, she’s one half of a band called The Old Year.