January 22, 2011

A Story About Rooms With Phillip Levine

The word stanza means "room." The origin is late 16th century from Italian.

A poem divided into stanzas is a house of rooms. It's not a great hall with space not formally separated by walls and doors.

When you write a poem instead of prose, the act of creating stanzas and breaks has an effect. Yes, prose has paragraphs, but they are "logical" and stanza breaks do other things with those divisions.

Then it might seem odd that I chose the poem "A Story" by Philip Levine as a model this month since it is all one stanza.

Levine is writing about how a story can be a house, a series of rooms, filled with things -
"tables, chairs, cupboards, drawers
closed to hide tiny beds where children once slept
or big drawers that yawn open to reveal
precisely folded garments washed half to death"
For this month's writing prompt, our subject is a room or rooms. The form is any number of stanzas, but we ask you to think carefully about how you arrange those stanzas. Should 4 rooms be 4 stanzas? Should the movement from room to room be done only by stanza breaks? If a poem about one room has 4 stanzas, why is that?

When you use a poetic form, the rooms are affceted. In ottava rima or rhyme-royal, the rooms all have the same size and shape. Very tidy rooms that rhyme nicely with each other.

Two lines is a couplet. 3 lines, a tercet, 4 lines, a quatrain and so on... Does size have something to say about the size of the rooms - or does it indicate...

Let me be a formalist here and say that style and meaning are inextricably connected.

What kind of building would have the rooms of a sestina?


January 20, 2011

WCCC Visiting Authors Series - Gerald Stern

The reading by Gerald Stern at Warren County Community College
has been postponed until Wednesday, March 30th, due to inclement weather.

The Warren County Community College (New Jersey) Visiting Authors Series continues on Wednesday, January 26th, with a reading by Gerald Stern.

Save the Last Dance: PoemsGerald Stern was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1925. His books of poetry include Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992 (W. W. Norton, 2010), Save the Last Dance: Poems (2008); This Time: New and Selected Poems (1998), which won the National Book Award; Bread Without Sugar (1992), winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize; The Red Coal (1981), which received the Melville Caine Award from the Poetry Society of America; and Lucky Life, the 1977 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets.

He was Poet Laureate of New Jersey from 2000 to 2002, and received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2005. Since 2006, Stern has been a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Stern has taught at Temple University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania and for a number of years prior to achieving fame, he taught at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey. Stern is currently serving as distinguished poet-in-residence at Drew University's low-residency MFA Program in Poetry.

This reading, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Room E208, is free and open to the public.

The WCCC Visiting Authors Series is supported by a grant from the Warren County Cultural and Heritage Commission. All facilities comply with ADA regulations and are fully accessible. After the reading, there will be brief Q&A with the audience and a book signing. Books will be available for purchase at the event.

For directions to the college or to find out about WCCC’s Creative Writing degree program, please call (908) 835-9222 or visit www.warren.edu

January 5, 2011

2011 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize

2011 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize

Submit a manuscript of 48-84 pages of original poetry in any style in English. The manuscript must not have been published previously in book form, although individual poems appearing in print or on the web are permitted. Entries may consist of individual poems, a book-length poem, or any combination of long or short poems. Collaborations are welcome.

Submission deadline: April 30, 2011

Alicia Ostriker will judge the 8th Annual Contest. Ostriker has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award, has published 12 volumes of poetry, most recently The Book of Seventy, for which she received the Jewish National Book Award for 2009. Her most recent book of criticism is Dancing at the Devil's Party: Essays on Poetry, Politics, and the Erotic. She has received awards and fellowships from the NEA, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, the Poetry Society of America, and the San Francisco State Poetry Center, among others. Ostriker lives in Princeton, NJ, is Professor Emerita of English at Rutgers University, and teaches in the low-residency Poetry MFA program of Drew University.

January 4, 2011

W. S. Merwin on Poetry

Listen to The Leonard Lopate Show with W. S. Merwin on Poetry (WNYC)

Poet W. S. Merwin talks about his collection of poems, The Shadow of Sirius, which earned him his second Pulitzer Prize. The poems focus on subjects from childhood and memory to age and, of course, dogs.

The Shadow of Sirius