The Uncanny Poem

Taking a cue from Freud’s famous definition of the uncanny (unheimlich, literally “unhomelike”), this workshop will explore how to “make the familiar strange” in poetry, particularly through poems that mine the dark, rich veins of the supernatural, horror, and the Gothic. How does one write poems that take full advantage of the weird and the eerie without slipping into either genre cliches or garden-variety surrealism? We’ll read a wide variety of spooky and unsettling poems, from the Romantics and Edgar Allen Poe to Frank Bidart, Daphne Gottlieb, Joe Fletcher and other contemporaries, which will help us generate new poems each week that play with disquieting images and metaphors. By the end of the workshop, students can expect to have written and workshopped four new poems and learned techniques for sending a little chill into the reader’s soul.

Workshop Details


Gregory Crosby is the author of Walking Away from Explosions in Slow Motion, Spooky Action at a Distance and The Book of Thirteen. For more than a decade he worked as an art critic, columnist and cultural commentator in Las Vegas, where he served as a poetry consultant for the Cultural Affairs Division. He was awarded a Nevada Arts Council Fellowship in Literary Arts and holds an MFA in creative writing from the City College of New York, where he won the 2006 Marie Ponsot Poetry Prize. From 2010–2014 he co-curated the Earshot reading series, and from 2011–2015 he coedited the online poetry journal Lyre Lyre. He is an adjunct associate professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and teaches creative writing at Lehman College–CUNY.