What is the age-old attraction of the short poem for poets and readers alike and how can we learn, through our examination of a selection of brief poems, how to create a small poem that packs a huge punch. In this class, we will examine the way short poems can serve any purpose—they can be political, calls to action, list poems, love poems. They can be imagistic, didactic, or philosophical. Simple or abstract, they can focus on an image or engage the senses. They can be grounded in reality or ignite the reader’s imagination. They can be language driven or meaning driven. The short poem is deceptive. They are not easy to write because every word needs to be right. Every word has more weight. They are often beguiling, magical, fierce, and powerful. They tell a secret. They linger and embed themselves into one’s consciousness. They often become friends to call upon in times of joy or in times of grief. We will examine poems by Dickinson, Tu Fu, Celan, Dove, Brown, Alexander, Gregg, Gilbert, Chang, Valentine, Ostriker, Howe, Dougherty, Chen, Merwin, Youn, Hughes, Hayden, Cavafy, Szymborska, Simic, Kaminsky, Smith, Rilke, Larkin, Daye, Laird, Cisneros, Milosz, and others. We will write our own short poems through a series of prompts and we will share and revise this work throughout the class.
Jennifer Franklin holds degrees from Brown University and Columbia University School of the Arts. She is the author of three full-length poetry collections including If Some God Shakes Your House (Four Way Books, 2023). Franklin received a 2021 NYFA/City Artist Corps grant and a 2021 Café Royal Cultural Foundation Literature Award. Her work has been published widely including in American Poetry Review, Bennington Review, The Nation, The Paris Review, and in the Poetry Society’s “Poetry in Motion” series. Most recently, Diane Seuss chose one of Franklin’s poems for The Academy of American Poets “Poem-a-Day” series. She teaches workshops in Manhattanville’s MFA program and manuscript revision at the Hudson Valley Writers Center, where she serves as Program Director.