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Form & Freedom

Form & Freedom


Form is a straitjacket in the way that a straitjacket was a straitjacket for Houdini.
—Paul Muldoon

Poetic form is scaffolding, is a cage, is temporary, is permanent, is a friend, is an enemy, something to wrestle with and break, a comrade. I have come to rely on form as a place to begin from when an empty page seems like an uncrossable boundary, and as something to help me revise when a draft seems unwieldy. Form is not unlike a kind of prayer, distracting our conscious minds with a difficult task so that the surprising line, phrase or image can get free. In this seven-week online workshop, we’ll practice and workshop a new form each week, trying on the sonnet, ghazal, cento, pantoum and beautiful outlaw. The final form we’ll invent ourselves. We’ll read work by poets including Agha Shahid Ali, John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Natalie Diaz, Suzanne Gardinier, Marwa Helal, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mark Jarman, Bernadette Mayer, Claude McKay and A.E. Stallings. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Thursday night, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.

Workshop Details

  • Professor: Miller Oberman
  • Dates: June 18-July 30, 2020
  • Time: Thursdays, 6:30–9:30 PM
  • Location: online via Zoom
  • Cost: $445
  • Class size: 5–10 students
  • Registration deadline: SUN, JUNE 14, 2020
  • Earlybird discount: $20 off through SUN, MAY 31