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The What For

Most poets alive during the 5,000+ years of recorded history have gone to some trouble to learn versification—poets from every region, culture and socioeconomic class on earth, writing in many thousands of languages. Why? Over the past hundred years, answers have become less and less clear, and harder and harder for poets to relate to. We’ll start there, with the expectation of finding substantial, recognizably human purposes that might make us want to challenge ourselves to learn meter. We’ll dive into technical essentials, beyond the usual terminological preoccupations, to think about how metrical patterns arise and how they relate to rhythms of natural spoken English. With particular attention to key English-language meters, we'll address some widespread misunderstandings, and via writing, workshop and reading, gain as much practical experience as possible with meter. The first goal is competency. The second is to explore, in our own work, ways of placing the varied rhythms of natural English into meaningful, expressive relation with artificial metrical patterns. Versification is a rhetorical tool. It gives poets control at every verbal level, from the overall texture, movement and emotional character of a poem to the relative emphases and tensions that, line by line, help determine tone and pacing, down to the strings of syllables that act like a genetic code for indirect meaning. We'll continue to ask Why throughout the workshop, hoping to discover our own best answers. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Thursday, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.

Workshop Details
  • Professor: Joshua Mehigan
  • Dates: Sept 30–Nov 11 2021
  • Time: Thursdays, 6:30–9:30 PM (ET)
  • Location: online via Zoom
  • Cost: $445
  • Class size: 5–10 students
  • Registration deadline: SUN, SEPT 26, 2021
  • Earlybird discount: $15 off through SUN, SEPT 12