Category: Craft Talks

Craft Talk: Maria Mutch

HOW TO PLAY I learned a good deal about writing from watching and listening to jazz musicians. More specifically, I learned about the effective use of surprise, play and dissonance from them. I would take—and still do—my older son, who has autism among other things, to hear the bands play live because he loves the music, especially when it’s being…

Craft Talk: Josh Booton

THE CATFISH ON THE MANTLE When Chekov famously asserted, “if a gun is on the mantle in the first act, it must go off in the third,” he probably did not intend for his dictum to extend into the realm of poesy. But with the first lines of any poem we begin to establish expectations, a primary ground from which…

Craft Talk: Ciara Shuttleworth

DANCING WITH DUENDE Duende has many definitions, but we will focus on Federico Garcia Lorca’s extensive writings on it, looking at duende through the lens of poetry, how it relates to poetry, and how it can be adapted to the art of your poetry. Lorca writes in his essay, “The Theory and Play of Duende,” “So, then, the duende is a force…

Craft Talk: Kerry James Evans

POETRY BOOTCAMP 1. First off, poems aren’t magical things that plop from the air and onto your plate, fat and greasy like Grandmother’s dumplings. It might happen, but I wouldn’t count on it. 2. Be open for the unexpected, but be so with purpose. If something comes up, don’t think about how you can turn the adventure into a poem; rather, be…

Craft Talk: Sandra Simonds

EXERCISE IN NEGATIVE METAPHOR There is no such thing as a poem without imagination. There are poems without metaphors that can work, poems without similes that can work, poems that don’t use rhyme or rhythm that can work and work well, but a poem without imagination isn’t a poem. The imagination is the cornerstone of all great poetry. Period. No…

Craft Talk: Catherine Staples

SCHOOLING FIGURES It’s a very good thing to have poems you admire rattling round in your head. They are schooling figures for the mind and good company, sometimes providing inspiration and, other times, solace. With the mention of just two words, “slumber” and “diurnal,” most poets will recall Wordsworth’s “Lucy poems”–if not the entire string of five mysterious poems written…

Craft Talk: Geoff Wyss

NOTES TO SELF I don’t like to write about writing. Stepping outside of my writing makes it hard to get back in, like kissing might be after a discussion about kissing. And I never know why someone would want to hear what I have to say about writing (or kissing). So the remarks below are addressed to the very specific…

Craft Talk: Collier Nogues

PUSHING YOUR MATERIAL AROUND    Audre Lorde wrote, decades ago, that “there are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” I’ve always loved that quote, but last spring I thought about it for the first time in a while, as I read the New York Times profile of the poet Anne Carson. Explaining how she…

Craft Talk: Katie Cortese

Flash Fiction: A World in the Palm of Your Hand As a kid, I collected snow globes. As many as I could get my hands on. The weirder the better. One was a red kaleidoscope with the snowy globe set ingeniously in a ring around the twistable tubes. Several were modifications on the concept, like the plastic dome that held a…

Craft Talk: Erica Dawson

Moses Moment It’s the moment when you’re finishing up the first draft and you’re second-guessing every decision you’re made so far. Will readers understand or be confused? You want them to understand, so you’ve got to nail the ending. You have to close the door on any questions, and all future discussions of your subject. You know good and well…