The Sources of Poetry
“You mention Immortality. That is the Flood subject.”
– Emily Dickinson in a letter to T. W. Higginson
Writing a poem is not a logical act, and it behooves us now and again to ask ourselves: Why are we writing poems in the first place? Many of us might identify it as a need, or some vaguely identified urge, but it’s easy in the months and years of reading, writing, and studying to lose track of that need or at least to avoid looking at it directly. In this workshop, we’ll do just that: We’ll cultivate our understanding of our own personal “flood subjects” – the obsessions and resonant sources that exist deep inside us and which fuel us to write. The goal of this is not to create more “publishable” poems (though that will likely follow as well), but to write more poems that matter – poems charged with energy, urgency, power, and even some of that elusive shininess that Linda Gregg refers to as “luminosity.” We will engage with prompts that encourage us to experiment with other kinds of sources as well – found language, research material, dreams – and will find inspiration in the poems and essays of a wide range of poets, young and old. This class is for poets of all experience levels who want to engage more deeply with their material and push themselves towards new, fertile lands, getting at the heart of why we write at all.
Sarah Rose Nordgren is the author of Best Bones (2014), winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, and Darwin’s Mother (2017), a finalist for the 2018 Ohioana Book Award, both from University of Pittsburgh Press. Her poems and essays appear widely in periodicals such as Agni, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review Online, Copper Nickel, and American Poetry Review, and she creates video and performance text art in collaboration with Kathleen Kelley under the name Smart Snow. Among her awards are two winter fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, and fellowships and scholarships from the Sewanee and Bread Loaf Conferences, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Nordgren holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, an MFA in poetry from University of North Carolina Greensboro, and a PhD in English and Creative Writing from University of Cincinnati where she also earned a Graduate Certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She currently lives in Cincinnati.