Surprising Ourselves on the Page: A Poet’s Toolkit

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Location: Online
Tutor: Jay Deshpande
Duration: 6 weeks - online writing class
Price: $295

As developing writers, we can understand our own voices better when we see how they adapt to accommodate different forms. Whether you have written poetry regularly for years, are just starting out, or simply want greater structure and more feedback on your work, it’s always helpful to expand your toolkit and get new ideas for what your next poem can be.

This six-week online writing class is designed for poets looking to build the foundations of their creative practice through writing prompts and a wide-ranging exposure to forms. We will focus on a different approach to the poem each week, using these techniques to uncover new possibilities in our writing. This will be a generative workshop: Students can expect to compose in various ways and to receive feedback on their work, including individualized suggestions for their further reading.

This class will take us down six distinct corridors for thinking about how we write the poem, and hence what a poem can be. We’ll explore description, the ode, persona, the sestina, constraint, and revision. Readings will let us study and imitate distinctive styles. We’ll look at poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, James Wright, Robyn Schiff, Danez Smith, Cathy Park Hong, John Ashbery, and Ross Gay, among others. By the end of the class, students will have strengthened their fundamentals and will have a better sense of how to edit and improve their own work.  


Week 1 - The poem as an experience of looking: image and description.

Week 2 - The poem as an act of praise: the ode.

Week 3 - Speaking in the voice of another: the persona poem.

Week 4 - Form and repetition: the sestina.

Week 5 - The poem with its hands tied: using constraint creatively.

Week 6 - Where the poem really lives: how to revise your work.

Instructor Bio

Jay Deshpande is the author of Love the Stranger (YesYes Books), named one of the top debuts of 2015 by Poets & Writers, as well as the chapbook The Rest of the Body. A winner of the Scotti Merrill Memorial Award and Narrative's Annual Poetry Contest, he has received fellowships from Kundiman, Civitella Ranieri and the Key West Literary Seminar. His poems have recently appeared in Denver Quarterly, Washington Square, LARB Quarterly Journal and Horsethief. He holds a BA in English from Harvard University and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. He has taught workshops for Poets House, Brooklyn Poets, and the Academy of American Poets and currently teaches in the MFA program at Columbia.



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