Poetry as Magic

Pilates for Your Imagination

Tired of boring, predictable, clichéd poems? Tired of being rejected? Tired of being alone? Rilke was right—almost: you must change your poetry! Expand your transcendence! Enlarge your dreams! Strengthen your line breaks! Lose twenty pounds!! Think of this class as Pilates for your imagination (towels not included). We will be discussing strategies, techniques, practices and examples of how to create and use SURPRISE! (both in ourselves and the reader) to create magic, tension and energy, to keep the reader excited and constantly on their toes. We will practice various forms of (mis)translation, anti-poetry, dreams, spells, curses, prayers, self-plagiarism, humor, ghost stories and other actions to upturn the reader’s (and our own) expectations or limitations of what can happen in a poem, what poems can do, what’s possible. We will read poems and base writing exercises on Bernadette Mayer, C.D. Wright, Nicanor Parra, Henri Michaux, Jack Spicer, June Jordan, Liu Xia, Amari Baraka, Mary Ruefle, Bill Knott, Bob Kaufman, Chelsey Minnis, Cesar Vallejo, Larry Levis, Tonya Foster, Tomaž Šalamun, Frank Stanford, J.V. Foix, James Schuyler and a smattering of undefinable texts or scraps of magic.

Workshop Details


Sampson Starkweather is the author of PAIN: The Board Game (Third Man Books, 2015) and The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather. He is a founding editor of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press. He is also the author of nine chapbooks, most recently Until the Joy of Death Hits, pop/love audio-visual GIF poems from Spork Press; Flux Capacitor, a collaborative audio poetry album from Black Cake Records; and Flowers of Rad, published by Factory Hollow Press. He lives in Ditmas Park.