The Sky is Falling: Ascendant & Descendent Gestures in the Poem
This workshop is part of our Poetry Festival.
Have you ever been asked, “Why don’t you write happy poems”? Or perhaps you have been admonished that your poems are too “dark.” There is a common assumption that the poem should “lift,” “inspire,” or at least suggest “hope.” However, what if that is not your aim? What if your goal is not to affirm the reader or to soothe but instead to disarm, indeed, to allow the reader to take in the distress of a situation or even internal states such as disconsolation? In this workshop, we will look at how the poem builds toward its final moments and discuss the paradox of how ascendant gestures may shut (down) the poem’s possibilities while descendent gestures may open them (up). This is a generative workshop so we will be writing at least two poems and both will be revised. Possible poets whose work we will discuss include Ai, Harris, Baudelaire, Dobyns, Siken among others.
Vievee Francis is the author of three books of poetry: Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State University Press, 2006), Horse in the Dark (winner of the Cave Canem Northwestern University Poetry Prize for a second collection, Northwestern University Press, 2016) and Forest Primeval (winner of the Hurston Wright Legacy Award and the 2017 Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award).