In this workshop course, we will write poems based on some of the major themes present in the poems of the great German-language Modernist poet Rainer Maria Rilke. As a poet and thinker Rilke returned to a handful of ideas which he incorporated into his poems over the course of many years. During our time together, we will look at English translations of a number of his greatest poems that examine the themes of death and resurrection, his concept of “das Offene,” (“the Openness”), his “Ding-Gedichte,” or “Thing-poems,” and his pairing of the Duino Elegies with the Sonnets to Orpheus. Each week there will be a writing prompt based on Rilke’s poetics aimed at sparking the generation of your own poems. The course will also consist of readings of Rilke’s poems, and lecture/essays from me on the poems and their thematic forces. We will then engage in an online discussion of your work that is supportive, humane and critically acute. All readings will be in English with German text provided as well.
Mark Wunderlich is the author of four books of poems, the most recent of which is God of Nothingness, forthcoming from Graywolf Press in January 2021. His other books include The Earth Avails, which received the Rilke Prize, Voluntary Servitude, and The Anchorage, which received the Lambda Literary Award. He has received fellowships from the NEA, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and has twice been a fellow at FAWC, where he now serves on the Writing Committee. He has published individual poems in The Nation, The New Republic, Paris Review, Poetry, the New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere. He directs the Bennington Writing Seminars graduate writing program, and lives in New York's Hudson Valley.