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I may take on the task of leading a one session (2 hour maximum) workshop on poetry. What would be the most important aspects that should be covered in such a workshop? I would assume that most folks going to a workshop like this would be beginner-intermediate level.

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  • The kinds of poetry: blank verse, free verse, structured (limericks/sonnets/haiku etc.)
  • Rhyme and meter: when they matter, when they don't, when to violate, when Mr. Pritchard should be told to suck pipe
  • Sounds: beginning/ending, alliteration, repetition, opening/closing and rising/falling vowels, consonants, how syllables create or interrupt flow and rhythm
  • Puns, double entendres, and other wordplay
  • My poetry teacher always talked about paring away: remove as much as you can, distill as much as you can, so that every word is meaningful and no words are extra.
  • Shakespeare, because you can't talk about poetry without talking about the Bard

More advanced:

  • Enjambments: how to use them and violate them for effect and meaning

  • How to use extra white space, extra returns, and oddball formatting for effect and meaning

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I have attended several (and run a few) poetry workshops. They were all about writing poetry -- not talking about writing poetry, not discussing approaches, but actually writing poetry. None of the things mentioned by Lauren Ipsum were mentioned unless they pertained to what had been written by someone in the group.

It does depend on your audience and what they expect. Most of the workshops I have attended were for intermediate to expert writers. The workshops I have conducted have been for beginners and experts. I largely took what I had tried in the workshops I attended and used it with the participants in my sessions.

  • I think I'm looking for a mix of topics to cover and exercises for the participants to do and which would hopefully touch on some of the topics. Do you have suggestions for exercises? – Terri Simon Sep 2 '16 at 16:34
  • I am in the process of writing web pages about creative writing exercises, including poetry ones. The explanations are quite long and I can't see myself writing a detailed answer here because it would just take too long. – S. Mitchell Sep 2 '16 at 21:18

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