Monday, February 10, 2014

Christine Byl: Lyric Tinkering


I love poems. I love reading them aloud. When the New Yorker comes, I flip to the poems first. (Okay, after the comics.) I love memorizing poems and hearing them read by their authors and sharing them with friends. I love studying poems and posting poems inpublic places. And, though I've only had one poem published, I love writing them. But because I don't think of them as my primary artistic output, poems give me creative freedom, delightful space to move about in without the perfectionism or judgment that can get the best of me in prose. Sometimes a poem is a private meditation, or a way of seeing something I've experienced anew. I use poems to tell myself unsayable things, and once in a while, to tell someone else. Sections of my non-fiction book, Dirt Work, began as poems, and I've written poems from the perspective of fictional characters to help me inhabit them more deeply. I wouldn't call myself a poet, but I know I wouldn't be the writer I am without reading, studying and writing poems. Join me in inviting the practice of poetry to wake up your work:


While working on a story or essay, who hasn’t occasionally felt stuck, in need of a new lens, a shift in stance? For prose writers, writing poems can provide a fresh entry into work in progress, and sometimes an entirely new project. In this class, we’ll explore the poem not as a final product but as a process and a tool, one that can sharpen, hone, and incite prose work. Together we will get a handle on some basic qualities of poetry—syntax, line break, stanza, imagery—that also undergird good prose. And, we’ll tinker with several forms—found poem, haibun, epistolary poem, cento, dramatic monologue—and learn how to integrate the writing of poems into a prose-making practice. Intended for writers of fiction and non-fiction, and poets interested in writing prose.

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