Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Carolyn Forche

Yesterday I went to a workshop with Denver Poet Laureate Chris Ransick at FRCC. It was very helpful. Most of it was about voice and how some poets don't believe in "voice". I thought it was interesting. He opened with two quotes, one being by Mark Strand:

"Sometimes you have to take drastic measures and reinvent yourself as a poet. The writing of a new book is the domestication of that venture into strangeness."

I've been thinking about what was said in the workshop a lot since it is so very true. I'd like to domesticate some strangeness myself. I found the exercises we did very powerful!

He talked about tone and audience, about how we view our own "voice" and how we might go about changing it via changing our perspective. This seems simple, yet it's potentially powerful when it comes to looking on our "experience" with different eyes. What we reveal, how much we reveal, and how we reveal it matter. If we never go beyond experience our writing is going to not risk anything new, and it's going to have the same safe or comfortable investment and can become dull, redundant and limiting.

I had this same experience in Martha Rhodes' workshop at the Provincetown Fine Arts Center's summer program. And despite this only one poem in 7 does this perspective change, but none-the-less, I sense that the poems I have now can be played with in terms of perspective, and all this gives me something to look forward to this summer with the poems I have that are waiting to be revised.

He suggested counting words in lines, images, abstract nouns, looking at the length of words to find out what's underneath the voice one is using, shifting point of view, and how it's important to shift both perspective and technique.

This was a wonderful workshop, one of the best I've attended! It felt good to be around "poetry" again at work. I wish I had the personality to get hired in academia just because I enjoy such things, but I also recognize that I'm different than poets in academia, or more clearly, poets who teach creative writing. I admire them, but maybe I'm more of a workshop attendee, when the conductor is a gifted teacher.

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