Writing for the Senses: Poetic Imagery, Experience, Emotion, and Evocation
Though this course may be online, it’s a highly experiential one, devoted exclusively to developing the writer’s perceptual path from sensation to language. Richly original attention to the world and our experience of it is the best possible antidote to clichéd or stale writing. It can also be the best inspiration for new work. And of course, imagery and patterns of imagery are a powerful tool for evoking emotion in a reader through a sense of immediacy, actuality, and surprise. We will proceed from painter Paul Klee’s assertion that “Nature has the answer,” and share (asynchronously) five different sensory experience exercises* which will, in turn give rise to the drafts of five poems. In addition, we’ll play with things like synesthesia (describing one sense experience using language from another, like “his eyes were as blue as the crashing of jars”), sensory deprivation, and unpleasant sensory experiences, all of which we’ll revise and combine to produce a final richly-written piece. We’ll also read some exciting poems that illustrate and exemplify rich, evocative imagery, all in the interest of helping you to both write and (at least as importantly) experience the world more deeply. At the end of the class each student will receive an email with thoughts about your work and individualized ideas for moving forward.
*all exercises can be easily and fruitfully adapted for accessibility
Rebecca Lindenberg is the author of Love, An Index (McSweeney’s 2012) and The Logan Notebooks (Center for Literary Publishing 2014), which won the 2015 Utah Book Award. She’s the recipient of an Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Grant, a fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and residencies at the MacDowell Arts Colony and the Sewanee Writers Conference. Her work appears in Poetry, The Believer, Diagram, Smartish Pace, Conjunctions, and elsewhere. She is a member of the Poetry Faculty at the University of Cincinnati, and the Queens University of Charlotte Low-Residency MFA Program. She lives in Cincinnati with her big kid and her little cat.