I’m teaching an eight-week class at the 92nd Street Y again this fall called On Prosody: A Poetry Workshop. Here’s a brief description from the Poetry Center’s website:
“Students will explore the ways in which traditional meters and verse techniques may be used to make music in poetry. Learn how to internalize the age-old tools of poetic composition to liberate, strengthen, and energize your writing in verse. Includes weekly writing assignments and classroom discussion of participants’ work.”
As I wrote in the April poetry issue of The New Criterion in 2005:
There has been a perception among poets themselves, since the advent of modernism, that formal verse fails on two counts: first, it doesn’t reflect contemporary speech, and, second, as Pound suggests in his poem “Against Form,” formal verse is too decorous to convey the complex new emotions provoked by modernity. The poet J. V. Cunningham answers the first concern about colloquial English with this line of perfect iambic pentameter: “I’ll have the special and a glass of milk.” In response to the second suggestion, that formal verse cannot contain modern thought and feeling, Allen Tate writes:
“The larger lesson taught by Baudelaire … was that the entire range of sensibility from high to low was not intractable to formal versification for was not Baudelaire a master of the classical French Alexandrine as well as other kinds of formal verse? Like everybody else at the time I tried free-verse, but it always turned out to be irregular metrical verse, and I soon gave it up.
“Formal versification is the primary structure of poetic order, the assurance to the reader and to the poet himself that the poet is in control of the disorder both outside him and within his own mind.”
The class begins October 6, but register early as places are limited.
To learn more, click here.