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The Involuntary Practice: Procedure and Constraint in Poetry

The Involuntary Practice: Procedure and Constraint in Poetry


At its root, writer’s block is about the problem of authority: how good are my ideas? How do I control and harness them? But that principle is patently false, since poems occur in the strange marriage of chance, surprise, inspiration and taste. In this workshop, we’ll generate poems by exploring different creative practices that do away with the idea of the all-knowing author, making us instead into delighted automata that discover the poem laying itself unwittingly at our feet. In short, we’ll consider five operations for reinvigorating the voice by letting go of authority in its conventional forms. Studying erasure, Oulipo operations, procedures of extraction and collage from different sources, creative translation, and computer-assisted automatic writing, we will rethink what intention really is and discover how the poet lives in the act of collection, not just composition. Readings will include works by Georges Perec, Mónica de la Torre, John Ashbery, K. Silem Mohammad, Paul Legault, Raymond Queneau, Frédéric Forte, Srikanth Reddy, Jen Bervin, Anne Carson, Jonathan Lethem, Timothy Donnelly, Mary Ruefle, Kenneth Goldsmith and Solmaz Sharif.

Workshop Details

  • Professor: Jay Deshpande
  • Dates: July 7–August 11, 2019
  • Time: asynchronous
  • Location: online
  • Cost: $295
  • Class size: 6–12 students
  • Registration deadline: SUN, JUNE 30, 2019
  • Earlybird discount: $15 off by SUN, JUNE 2