The Preposterous and Sublime

I have wasted my life.
—James Wright

Preposterous: “contrary to reason or common sense.” Sublime: “of such excellence, grandeur or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.” Poetry often aspires to both of these things: preposterous in its desire and need to make meaning, sublime when it succeeds. How can we use this understanding to bring our vision of the world into our poems? What details, what minutiae bring our words and worlds to life in the reader’s mind? How do we propose that a reader stand in our place for just a moment and accept the world as we do, convincing them to believe in that space? How do we create something that is both new and familiar, surprising and welcoming? How do we make the ordinary shine? How do we construct new doors into our own poetry?

In this seven-week online workshop, we’ll examine a range of poets who exemplify the preposterous and sublime and look at the triangulation of lyricism, imagery and narrative from which they weave the tapestry of a compelling poem. Each week, we’ll write a poem based on a prompt derived from those readings, and we’ll post poems and critiques on Wet Ink. We’ll also pay close attention to how we access the poems we’re writing, trying to understand our own process in reaching for both the preposterous and sublime. To that end, we’ll write (brief) process/origin notes on the poems we produce. The professor will provide video introductions to course material and writing prompts and, at the end of the course, a one-on-one video conference with each student.

Workshop Details


Ariel Francisco is the author of A Sinking Ship is Still a Ship (Burrow Press, 2020), All My Heroes Are Broke (C&R Press, 2017) and Before Snowfall, After Rain (Glass Poetry Press, 2016). His work has been published by the New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets, New York City Ballet and many other venues. A poet and translator born in the Bronx to Dominican and Guatemalan parents and raised in Miami, he earned his MFA at Florida International University and is a visiting professor in the MFA in Writing & Publishing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.