I celebrate, years after, the great joy of poetry and poetry books created by my students at the University of New Mexico. I was asked to teach poetry workshops about 3 times from 1993 to 1997 and I would have done it every semester of my professional life if I could (stumbling block: lots of graduate work but no Masters).
Here is the description of the course given to students. The requirement was get active through tools of the class in writing your own poems, put together a book of your own work, design it, come up with your own press name and do a minimum of 2 copies, one for me. I set up a public reading near the end of the course in the Student Union Building which was a great event for us, and all the students’ books went on view subsequent to the course in display windows at the SUB. I insisted students experience every phase of the “Poet As Publisher” which has been the essence of my life and many of my poet friends.
Visitors to the class were poets Lance Henson, Maisha Baton, David Seder, Scott Nicolai, Merilene Murphy and others including Keith and Heloise Wilson. Tim Forrest recorded and aired student poems on KUNM-FM.
Poetry Writing Workshop
Larry Goodell, Instructor
This is a hands-on, how-to workshop, with a variety of approaches towards writing poetry and an exploration of some of the predominant styles. We’ll try various exercises and experiments to invigorate writing. We learn the best ways to read our own work aloud. We explore personal expression, humor, seriousness, satire, word-play, and learn what makes a good poem work. The course helps people open up and write what they’ve always wanted to write. We’re all here to encourage. The stress is on variety and enjoyment. We learn how to assemble poems into a small book, how to and where to publish, including tips on how to self-publish.
8 Week Outline
Let’s try to present at least one new poem or piece of writing each week. You can try to put together a small collection of your work in typescript and bound in booklet form.
1. Journal keeping. “The collage of imaginative discovery.” Common place book, diary, notebook, dreams, fragments.
2. Short poems. “The small is more than the sum of its parts.” Basho, haiku, American haiku, imagism, found poems.
3. Exercising writing. “Doors to the Eternal Muse.” Teasers, props, tricks, timed writing, automatic writing.
4. Finding your style. Where and why do you end a line? Rhymed versus non-rhymed, contemporary American poetry techniques and styles.
5. Finding your local focus. What is Southwestern poetry? Regional poetry? Local focus as source for poetry, specificity and risk, “imagination determined reality.”
6. Finding sources for poems. Memories, events, conversations, dialogues, news, interviews, dreams, journals.
7. Writing story poems. Family history, history is story, your politics as source, investigation and exaggeration, satire.
8. Finding the world in your poetry. Poetry as a gift you can give. Sources of publication, including self-publication extending poetry into community, readings, broadsides, booklets.
Book recommended: New Mexico Poetry Renaissance, Niederman and Sagan, editors. Red Crane $9.95.
This was a comprehensive shot in the arm of poetry to enable everyone to express and experience a bit of what poetry can offer.
Larry Goodell / Placitas, New Mexico