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 and expanded. We will listen to what the poem itself is suggesting about what and where the next steps are, and we will think of what threads might weave a sequence of poems together into a whole fabric. In this effort we will examine the how hybrid forms, variant dictions, dissonant topics, and idiosyncratic rhetorical stances might point us toward new energies and possibilities. Each of you will be asked to post new elements of your poem daily. You will all be invited to 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 a 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 (2017), designated an Honored Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards. Earlier books include The Looking House, Full Moon Boat, and House on Water, House in Air, and Tipping Point, winner of the Washington Prize. Marchant has translated works by several contemporary Vietnamese poets and edited Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford.