THE CLASSROOM OF THE POEM
with Wesley McNair
The poetic tradition has been created poem by poem, one poet extending the work of the poet who came before. The best poems of accomplished elders remain the truest guides, challenging and teaching us. They will be the models in this workshop.
The workshop will begin with discussions and exercises based on models in the craft of free verse. Primary questions will be: Why and how do poets break lines? What are the best sentences for free verse? How can a free verse poem be made to look like what it says? How can these model poems teach poets to know when they are finished with a poem?
After discussion and practice in craft, participants will use model poems for inspiration, reading aloud a range of poems whose fresh language and unique approaches will spark poems of their own. Group assessments of the results will follow the readings.
Attendees will leave this workshop with fresh new poems in progress and models enough to inspire more. Just as important, attendees will have new eyes for the instructive powers of a memorable poem.
Wesley McNair is the author of nine books of poetry and two limited edition collections, as well as volumes of nonfiction and edited anthologies. He served as Maine Poet Laureate from 2011 to 2016. He has received grants from the Fulbright and Guggenheim foundations, two Rockefeller Fellowships, two NEA grants, and five honorary degrees for literary distinction. In 2006 he was selected for a United States Artists Fellowship of $50,000 as one of “America’s finest living artists.”
Other honors include the Theodore Roethke Prize, the Eunice Tietjens prize from Poetry magazine, and an Emmy Award as scriptwriter for a series on Robert Frost that aired on the PBS network. He has twice been invited to read his poetry by the Library of Congress and has served five times on the jury for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. In 2015 his book of poetry, The Lost Child, won the PEN New England Award for Literary Excellence. His most recent collection is The Unfastening.