Poetry as Bewilderment

Nick Flynn's picture
Nick Flynn
Week 9: August 5 to August 10
ORIENTATION: August 5, 6:00-7:30 PM
WORKSHOP: August 6-10, 9am-Noon
Discipline: Poetry
Open to All

Workshop Description 

This workshop is part of our 3rd Annual Poetry Festival.

Frost once said, "poems are about what you don't mean as well as what you do mean." In our brief time together I’d like to examine this idea by thinking about the concept of "bewilderment" and how it gets acted out in our poems—either through syntax, our access to the duende, leaps into the unconscious realms, or simply circling around what is unsaid, unknown, unrealized. Or, as Aristotle puts it, "The mind in the act of making a mistake. . ." We will look for those moments we begin to stutter and stumble when talking about our poems, or in the poems themselves, for these are the thresholds beyond which is unknown, beyond which is the white space on the map. Over the course of our week together we will attempt to push a little deeper into this shadow world.

The workshop will be generative, in the sense that we will deepen work we have already done, and so please come with 10-20 pages of work in progress, in various states of completion, from polished to rough sketches.


Nick Flynn has worked as a ship’s captain, an electrician, and as a case-worker with homeless adults. In 2019 he will publish two new books: Stay (Ze Books), which represents twenty-five years of collaborations & writings; as well as I Will Destroy You (Graywolf), a new collection of poems. His work has been translated into fifteen languages.