Girders & Cables

What Holds a Poem Together

We cross bridges every day, both mindful of their structure and also indifferent. But without structure, the materials that hold up the bridge, we would not be able to cross to the other side. This workshop will focus on how a poet decides to structure poems: using conventional/traditional forms or more open-ended formal devices? Each poet will generate new work and explore the ways the poem could be made in two or three different ways as a method to discover which structure works best for the poet and poem. Contemporary poetic practices allow for great diversity in work, but whether you’re writing a villanelle or exploring hybridization, words and space must find a way to hold together.

Workshop Details


Patricia Spears Jones is the author of four full-length poetry collections, most recently A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems (White Pine Press, 2015) and four chapbooks, including Living in the Love Economy (Overpass Books, 2014), as well as two plays commissioned and produced by Mabou Mines, the acclaimed experimental theater company. She is the winner of the 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers, awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the NY Community Trust and the Goethe Institute, and grants from the NEA and NYFA. Her poems are anthologized in Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry; broken land: Poems of Brooklyn; Best American Poetry 2000 and elsewhere. She edited Think: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day Hat and Ordinary Women: An Anthology of Poetry by New York City Women, and she serves as a contributing editor for BOMB Magazine as well as a senior fellow at the Black Earth Institute, a progressive think tank. She participated as a mentor in the first year of Emerge-Surface-Be, a new fellowship program at St. Mark’s Poetry Project, where she was the program coordinator from 1984 to 1986. She has taught poetry workshops for Cave Canem, the Poetry Project and Poets House and is currently a lecturer at LaGuardia Community College.