In this one-week intensive online course we will begin a new poem and stay with it for the whole five days, the goal being to nurture and expand that poem into an extended meditation. We will consider what a meditative poem is and does, and why one might want to write one. We will study the many ways a poem might be sustained, opened up, and expanded. We will listen to what the poem itself is suggesting about where the next steps are. We will consider how one constructs and works with sequences of poetry. We will explore the ways in which one might sustain a unity within increasingly diverse elements of a poem as it unfolds over time. For example, we will examine the way hybrid forms, variant dictions, dissonant topics, and idiosyncratic rhetorical stances might point to new energies and possibilities. You will be asked on a daily basis to post new elements of your poem as it unfolds, and you will all be invited to read and respond to the work that is posted. In addition, we will read and discuss meditative poems and/or poetic sequences by such writers as Anne Carson, Martha Collins, Nick Flynn, Jorie Graham, Robert Hass, Seamus Heaney, Brenda Hillman, Czeslaw Milosz, Claudia Rankine, Kevin Young, and Natasha Trethewey, among others. By the end of our week together you should have not only a grounding in the poetics of sustained meditation, you should also have a poem that in itself bears witness to the virtues of “staying with it.” At the end of the class I’ll email each student with thoughts about your work and individualized ideas for going forward.
Fred Marchant is the author of five books of poetry, the most recent of which is Said Not Said (Graywolf Press, 2017). Earlier books include Full Moon Boat, The Looking House, Tipping Point, and House on Water, House in Air. Marchant has co-translated work by several Vietnamese poets, and edited Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford. An emeritus professor of English, he is founding director of the Suffolk University Poetry Center in Boston.