What You’re Willing to Discover: A Poetry Workshop

Mark Conway WEEK 11: August 16 to August 21 TUITION: $650 WORKSHOP: 9am-12pm DISCIPLINE: Poetry OPEN TO ALL ON-SITE HOUSING AVAILABLE

Yusef Komunkyakaa said, “Don’t write what you know. Write what you are willing to discover.” In this poetry workshop we’ll concentrate on writing toward the deep, difficult-to-reach poem, writing that relies on intuition, half-glimpsed inner visions, our truest take on the world. To get there we’ll go by hunch and faith, duende, and the maps left by others in the form of poems. We’ll engage with ecstatic poetry, work that shares attributes with the mystical: the desire (and fear) of being broken open, of being known. We’ll find time for the anti-ecstatic as well, moments when the prayer fails, when what’s revealed is wild and unmanageable. Overall, the emphasis will be on challenging habits of mind rather than polishing existing poems. We’ll generate new work and workshop the writing that is most pressing to you.

Please bring at least 10 pages of current work, the writing that most attracts you but also resists completion.


Mark Conway’s most recent book of poetry, rivers of the driftless region, was published by Four Way Books in 2019. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Slate, Boston Review, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review Online, Ploughshares, the PBS NewsHour and Bomb. He teaches at The Loft in Minneapolis and lives in rural Minnesota.