When Language is the Artist’s Material: The Poet’s Palette
What exactly is it that poets do with language, or, rather, what opportunities for creation and effects does language afford? We’ll work to get a concrete feel for language as one possible art-making material among others such as paint, or stone and chisel. This workshop will refresh your relationship with language and also get your hands dirty as we engage in serious investigatory play, tussling with the properties and effects of letters, words, syntax, metaphor, page and voice. Juggle pronouns! Swirl tenses! Re-constellate connotations! We’ll read and discuss poems by a number of poets such as Hart Crane, Gertrude Stein, Tracie Morris, Harryette Mullen, Christian Bök, and others that exuberantly press language to its own expressive limits. We will follow their example: kissing words, fondling letters, strengthening our romance with what calls itself “language”—this astonishing, supple thing you are reading with your own vulnerable eyes and language-capable brain, each word’s phonations echoing “right now,” write now. You’ll hear from your instructor daily. At the end of the course, each student will receive an email outlining the strengths of their work, giving them some specific ideas for continuing and an individualized reading list, to be followed up by one-on-one conversation via phone or video.
JASON ZUZGA is the author of the poetry collection Heat Wake (Saturnalia Books, 2016), with poems and nonfiction appearing in numerous journals, including jubilat, Tin House, the Yale Review, and the Paris Review. He has been the recipient of a poetry fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center and was selected as a poet-in-residence at the James Merrill House. He has held various jobs in publishing, from literary agency to Alfred A. Knopf. Currently, he serves as the Other/Nonfiction co-editor of FENCE. He has and continues to teach a varied array of courses across literature, media, and creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania, where he recently received his Ph.D. in English, having completed a dissertation about the uncanny aspects of image and language in nature documentary.