Keep Your Foot on the Sustain Pedal: Writing Long Poems
In this workshop, participants will struggle through several drafts of a few poems between 50 and 150 lines in length. Perhaps it seems silly to write those numbers down as meaningful parameters, but in the instructor’s experience that’s where a distinct kind of poem resides, one with a sustained tone and many twists and turns: the sort of poem that nobody quite knows what to do with, that doesn’t fit in a gift box, that sticks out like cold feet from the end of the bed. Some examples: Yeats’ “Easter 1916,” Bishop’s “At the Fishhouses,” and Olena Kalytiak Davis’s “The Lyric ‘I’ Drives to Pick up Her Children from School.” We will look at these and other examples to discern what techniques, tendencies, and tics it takes in terms of premise, structure and development to sing/say this kind of long song.
Poet Ed Skoog was born in Topeka, Kansas. He earned an MFA from the University of Montana. His collections of poetry include the chapbooks Toolkit (1995) and Field Recordings (2003) and the full-length volumes Mister Skylight (2009) and Rough Day (2013), both published by Copper Canyon Press. His poems have appeared in Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Poetry, and many other magazines, and he was included in the 2015 Best American Poetry. The Harvard Review compared Skoog’s work to that of Wallace Stevens and the New York School poets, noting his “verbal montages.” Reviewer Henry Hughes added, “readers must surrender their demands for whole meaning in the narrative sense to enjoy the verbal play—the sounds, phrases, and crazy connections that suggest new ways of reading the world.” Skoog has taught at the Idyllwild Arts Foundation in Idyllwild, California, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and Tulane University. He has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and The Lannan Foundation, and has been the Jenny McKean Moore Writer in Washington at George Washington University and writer-in-residence at the Richard Hugo House. He lives in Portland, Oregon. http://skoog.land