LIVE via ZOOM: 7pm-9pm (Eastern Time)
The first line of any poem is the handshake with your reader. How do you grab their attention? Establish a tone? Keep them on their feet—or intentionally throw them off balance?
In this class, we’ll hone the art of crafting effective opening lines by studying a selection of first lines by published poets. Through dissecting these first lines in isolation, we’ll unpack how craft choices create conceits that influence the reader’s expectations as they read forward. Then we’ll practice crafting our own first lines—and full poems—through generative writing exercises.
Anders Carlson-Wee is the author of Disease of Kings (W.W. Norton, 2023), The Low Passions (W.W. Norton, 2019), a New York Public Library Book Group Selection, and Dynamite (Bull City Press, 2015), winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Prize. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, The Washington Post, Harvard Review, BuzzFeed, American Poetry Review, and many other publications. The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he is the winner of the Poetry International Prize. Anders is represented by Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents and lives in Los Angeles.