Jazz June: Sound & Writing Poetry


Many beginning poets become quickly proficient with alliteration — the repetition of beginning sounds in nearby words — “lurk late” or “strike straight” or “jazz June” (examples from the poem “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks). The problem that occurs often is that they begin to overuse alliteration and rely on it too much. In this intermediate poetry workshop, we will explore other ways of patterning sound in poems — assonance, consonance, rhyme, onomatopoeia, and of course, alliteration as well — esp. more advanced applications of these techniques, such as rich consonance and slant rhyme. This class is geared toward those who are fairly experienced already in writing poems. Before the workshop, you will send me three poems in which you are expressly playing with sound. In the course of the weekend you will also write one poem applying sound concepts we discuss in class. We will workshop your poems in class and discuss how better to work with sound. Our goal in the workshop is to help you become more aware of your use of sonic effects and improve how you employ sound. What you will find after the workshop is that your growing skills in using sound in poems will affect all your writing, not just poems but other genres as well, even nonfiction essays.

In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments, provide feedback on writing you produce in our weekend, and critique writing you bring from home.

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