Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pescadero - Mark Doty poem from last night's SAL event


 Mark Doty read this poem explaining that "Pescadero" is the town in Northern California where this goat farm is located. He mentioned that this was published in a "national magazine" and that he received a letter from a first grade teacher who wrote her first graders were delighted with the poem as the class visits this goat farm on a field trip every year. The first graders enjoyed reminiscing about their trip, said the teacher. Doty was clearly moved by this -- his poem had led the students to memory.


The little goats like my mouth and fingers,

and one stands up against the wire fence, and taps on the fence board
a hoof made blacker by the dirt of the field,

pushes her mouth forward to my mouth,
so that I can see the smallish squared seeds of her teeth, and the bristle-whiskers,

and then she kisses me, though I know it doesn’t mean “kiss,”

then leans her head way back, arcing her spine, goat yoga,
all pleasure and greeting and then good-natured indifference: she loves me,

she likes me a lot, she takes interest in me, she doesn’t know me at all
or need to, having thus acknowledged me. Though I am all happiness,

since I have been welcomed by the field’s small envoy, and the splayed hoof,
fragrant with soil, has rested on the fence board beside my hand.

The Writer's Night Out: Seattle Arts and Lectures Present(ed) Mark Doty

Sundering. Vessel. Decal-ed plexiglass. Mark Doty read last night for Seattle's amazing poetry program coordinated by our own Rebecca Hoogs and it was the best reading of the season. Maybe the best poetry reading of the decade! It is a rare poet that can entertain and educate, charm and come off as completely authentic. I know I can't marry Mark Doty, but maybe I can adopt him as my poetry brother (I always wanted a brother).

Here are some of my notes from last night. From Mark Doty, "I've thought of myself as a - more is more - kind of poet." I love his lushness, his celebration of every part of life from graffiti on makeshift walls to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall -- all in one poem. He is a master of moving us through time and space -- an astronaut of the lyric line.

He seems interested in prose as much as poetry -- he explained he's "attracted to non-fiction for (its) hybridity." The elastic nature of it; he said that in his next book he moves back and forth between his ideas on Walt Whitman and his own life. The connections he makes between his work and Whitman's centered around the concept of the individual and his or her connection to the larger community. Celebration of the self, yes, but also celebration of everything the self is merely one tiny spark of, one chard of glass. My favorite Doty poem is "Mercy on Broadway" because he expands one single moment standing on Broadway into a cosmos of his life and through an easy extension, our own.

Finally, I can't wait for his second forthcoming book The Art of Description from Greywolf this summer. Doty's comments on ekphrasis are amazing -- as his commentary on Rilke's  Archaic Torso of Apollo attests. Here are a few quotes from last night:
"A good ekphrasis poem acknowledges its source and moves away from it."  "You don't need a poem to show you a work of art...(but) they are a vessel for our own emotional context, it carries our own obsessions."

I am depressed that I didn't sign up for a workshop with him today. He's teaching at Hugo House. Perhaps I should gate crash?

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Question of Covers: Contemplating Book Cover Choices

I was reading this morning about book covers on the Best American Poetry blog. Don Share and others contributed their favorite book covers and wrote a little bit about where their preferences came from. I know I have judged a book by its cover before and thought it interesting to think about why. I've learned I have a strong preference for color and especially paintings.In the case of Elizabeth Bishop, several of her covers feature her paintings and if I were a painter, I would want to do this. Derek Wallcott is another poet who often has his own art work where a reader can see two angles of his artistic vision at once, image and word. The fact that The Complete Poems has also reversed the regular order of image and title, I also find appealing.

Deborah Diggs collection, Trapeze is also a favorite. It is difficult to see from this image, but the cover shows a photograph of wheat in light and wind. It is beautiful, basic, and mysterious all at once. These are covers that bring me into the mind of the poet (or so I like to believe) but also links me to the work inside the covers. Finally, boy, by Patrick Phillips surprises me. It is the most contemporary cover here, and that shows. If I squint, it could almost be an add for a shampoo called "boy" - but why is the face obscured? I love the boldness of this cover and the way the image of the child is split between what we can observe and what we can only imagine. I've chosen books that I love - not only the images, but all the lines between the covers. I could choose different ones tomorrow perhaps -- some covers I love just don't work in this format. As I've learned through the production of three books, covers aren't really meant to be subtle - they are meant to sell books. And yet I know I need to love the image, the colors, even the font. Books, for example, that use mainly lettering -- like Frank O' Hara's Lunch Poems don't work for me. I think it is a relatively new thing (ten years or so) since it's become fashionable to "sell" books of poems with good looking covers. And that's fine with me!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

US Poets in Mexico - Poetry Workshops and Festival

This is where I will be next January teaching for US Poets in Mexico alongside Carolyn Forche and Diane Wakowski. I've just sent my workshop title in and am thinking a lot about what makes for a good workshop theme. Lately, I've been doing a lot on ekphrasis - and maybe that's what I really want to do -- but I sent another description in -- on food poetry. The truth is, I wanted something that would be a bit light-hearted for a week away -- but now I am not so sure. Many other writers are offering workshops in revision or new writing -- leaving it much more open. Personally, I like a class to have a well-defined theme. I'm curious what workshops you've taken or taught that have been memorable. What did you like about them? What lingers long after the class is over?

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Writer's Life: Thinking About Linda Bierds Again

The train image! I can't stop thinking about it ... A few posts ago I wrote about Linda Bierd's Saturday workshop at Richard Hugo House on the subject of what to do when your poems get stuck. What was most interesting to me was her way of describing the architecture of a poem. Besides the single stanza poem, or monostrophe, we also discussed the section poem. Unlike the monostrophe which whispers to the reader, "Reader take a deep breath, and then dive right in," the section poem states, "Reader, leave and come back; leave and come back." The imagery is elevated to symbolism and invites the reader to linger here, linger here. And then she said this:

You're in a dark field--- and a train is passing by very, very slowly; and you see each window as discreet - one cinematic frame followed by another. The pace is slower than a train would actually be. It is only after the whole train passes you by that you see the connections and make the windows connect to a whole.

You're off the hook for any kind of transition. You can shift everything. Change where the camera's eye is - move from extreme close-up to high angle shot.

As someone who teaches film, I loved this cinematic metaphor for the section poem -- which I often write and then feel a little guilty about. It seems easier to write with this much freedom. On the other hand, that freedom leads to greater expectations for myself. The train image will stay with me --- especially since I also seem to write about trains.

Do others have a preference for the section poem? I think of the book, The Soul Out of Nothing, by Oleanna Katiyak Davis as  doing amazing acrobatics with the form. It seems a structure that allows for endless inventions and delights.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

More from Edward Pramuk - Connections Between Painting and Poetry

This is really a continuation of my last post. I wanted to share what Pramuk writes about where these images come from:

" Many of my sea paintings contain remnants of atmosphere and illumination gleaned from observing nature, although the solitary images I cast adrift in vast oceanic space have an abstract foundation. The truth is they come more from thought and memory than from nature, and seem very familiar, even intimate, to me. Dreams and reveries play a role."

                                                                                                                                       Edward Pramuk

The Southern Review ~ Color Me Superbly Blue!

It might just be me, but I think that this is the most gorgeous journal cover I've seen. The artist is Edward Pramuk. "Ancient Ice" comes from a series of paintings called "Voyages." I wonder if I can ask for one of his pieces now for my not-yet-written next book?

I love all of his paintings /collage  that form the centerfold  of this issue. Pramuk's artist statement explains that this series was born out of a dream where he saw himself on a nocturnal beach. And yes, the poetry and prose is great, too: Oliver de la Paz, Piotr Floirczyk, Peter Marcus, and Laura Kasischke, to name just a few stars. And in view of full disclosure, I have two poems in this issue, too!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Writing Life ~ Linda Bierds Workshop at Richard Hugo House

"Honor the images that arrest you."

This afternoon I re-entered the world of the student. I loved taking notes, listening to others, and even raising my hand. What a pleasure to reclaim the role of learner. Linda Bierds teaches with an air of grace and respect for all the questions and insights that people bring to the table. It was  magical to spend the afternoon in her company. The topic of the class was what to do when you're stuck; when the poem just won't come and how to think about different structures for poetry within the world of free verse. Here is just a little from my pages of notes.

"Respect the unconscious mind. Honor scrappyness."  Bierds spoke at length on the way she uses her notebook. She said those scraps, the images that arrest us, shouldn't have to mean something before we accept them into our notebooks. Don't ask, can I possibly use these together?

She asked us to speak to where poems come from. How do you start a poem? She then gave us the two impulses recognized in everyone's comments: that poems either are born out of rhythm or out of image. She attributed rhythm to what Stanley Kunitz would propose. Before language, you receive the internal sense of rhythm while Seamus Heaney would say he starts with the image thrown up, (or dug up) the image that comes from our subconscious.

Much of what she spoke of and showed us in different poems was ideas about poetry that perhaps many of us knew, but we knew by instinct, not by naming. For example, the monostrophe or single stanza poems provided one seamless progression. Reader, take a deep breath and then dive in. There is a leveling device at work that gives everything an equal weight.The effect is more a meditation, an anti-narrative. The fluidity trumps any of the information within the poem. Repetition, long run-on sentences, present participles are all part of how the single stanza poem does its work. A cataloging, an invocation, a continuous present ...

Should you get a chance to take a workshop from this gentle, brilliant poet --- do it!

Friday, February 19, 2010

What if Rilke is Right?

"The longer I live, the more urgent it seems to me to endure and transcribe the whole dictation of existence up to its end, for it might just be the case that only the very last sentence contains that small and possibly inconspicuous word through which everything we had struggled to learn and everything we had failed to understand will be transformed suddenly into magnificent sense.

We make our way through Everything like thread passing through fabric: giving shape to images that we ourselves do not know."

Rilke, Letters on Life, transl. U. Baier, 2005

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Writer's Life: 10 Tips on a Giving a Successful Poetry Workshop

I taught a workshop with Lillias Bever at the Frye Art Museum this past Saturday.The workshop was free to the public and sponsored by the museum and 4Culture which had awarded us both grants for ekphrastic work. According to a few students who wrote me to say how much they learned, the day seems to have been a success. Honestly, both Lillias and I spent an enormous amount of time planning this event - and it was based on a lecture and workshop I had given before --- so what did we learn this time around?

1. Write out a schedule! Make every minute count! The topic of poetry and visual art expanded as we studied more and more. We wanted to give our students lots of information without overwhelming them. Two and a half hours flew by. We had a schedule for the day broken into ten minute intervals.

2. Hand-outs are crucial. Ours was whittled down to fourteen pages! We included a section on further reading, helpful websites, and favorite ekphrastic poems. When we found ourselves having to let part of the workshop go, we consoled ourselves with "it's in the handout; we can mention it!"

3. Do-it-yourself registration is easy with Yahoo. Easy, yes, but also time consuming. The museum wanted us to handle all questions etc, and we had a limit on how many students we wanted in an intimate workshop. I created a Yahoo account for the event where people could email us if they wanted to sign-up. The trouble was that people have questions about parking, directions to the studio space, etc. I would use Yahoo again, but create a few simple emails that would answer frequently asked questions -- now that I know what those are.

4. Balance exercises with information. There was so much cool information we found out about the history of ekphrasis -- as well as contemporary examples. We needed to let particpants write poems, read some poems, and then move into the poems we brought as examples -- always coming back to how what others accomplished could be useful as writing strategies for our group.

5.  Powerpoints can be useful; and are easy to create. For a workshop on the relationship of poetry to the visual arts, the powerpoint was so useful!
Before everyone went off to the galleries, we did an exercise using this painting, "The Bride" by Marc Chagall.

6. Teach what you love - the energy will transfer to your students. It felt like I gave myself a crash course on the different types of ekphrasis in the week leading up to the workshop. I already knew quite a bit, but I wanted to learn more. One young woman wrote to me after the workshop saying that my energy for the topic had been contagious and she left feeling invigorated about her own work and with much  more to read and discover.

7. Don't be surprised if you are exhausted by this kind of intensive teaching. I teach full time at a local college and so I didn't expect to be so exhausted at the end of this half day workshop - boy, was I ever wrong. I fell asleep in the late afternoon and it really took me two days to recover. This type of one off workshop feels more like an acting job.

8. Publicity matters. We had hoped for about 15 students but ended up having 20 and a long waiting list  as well! Okay - so it was free! Still, we had no idea so many people would be interested. We tried to see if one of our many publicity tactics brought in the most students, but it seemed we got one or two people from --- posters in bookshops, website of the museum, students who had worked with me before, my Facebook page! In other words, make sure you get the word out early and often! We went from being concerned there wouldn't be enough people to having to turn poets away.

9. Remember, joy! We needed to do publicity, registration, directions -- the whole sheebang. Before we began we needed to get new energy for our actual subject - poems inspired by visual art. It's as if I taught myself a class that contained at least twice as much as what we could actually use.

10. Keep in touch! Many people asked when we would be teaching again and to be kept on a mailing list. I usually forget about this kind of follow-up, but this time I am going to try. In the next few months I am teaching many workshops (although none for free) and I promised myself to actually make a list.

I hope this list is helpful. If I wrote this tomorrow, I might add in other elements, but this is what I am thinking of tonight. Working with someone else forced us both to be much more schedule oriented than one person alone might have been. The benefit to the group was that they got two teachers and we packed in even more information. Would love to hear what others do for giving workshops. What tips would you add here?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Today's Poem - from Ansie Baird, In Advance of All Parting, White Pine Press Poetry Prize

Nothing of You


Sometimes I pretend you have tumbled
off the edge of the Persian Gulf,
dropped like a pearl
to the bottom of the sea.

You glimmer, but the indifferent fish
swim on.

You are my exotic, my precious

I would have you hammered
into sheets of gold,
molded into a brooch
I could pin on my lapel.

See, I'd say. There he is.
Doesn't he shine?

Ansie Baird, In Advance of All Parting

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Book Covers - Where Mine Came From ... The Complete Photo

Thank you, Philipp, for providing me with a copy of the full photograph. I wonder how a stag on the cover would have altered my book?

The Writer's Life: How to Find that Fine Line ... Or the "P" Word is Not a Dirty Word ... Promotion

How to find the balance  in life is never easy for me, or I suspect most of us. I've come to realize I am most comfortable in small groups of people I know well, or spending time alone. I suspect many writers feel the same way. Yet, when we are faced with a new book on the horizon, it's time to tuck away that introverted personality and get out the party favors. With a new book arriving in a few short months, I need to get busy lining up places to read my work. "Why" you might ask? I ask myself that same question. I ask it a lot. Here are some of the answers I've come up with:

1. I  believe in my book, I wanted to publish it.  Publication means a desire to share one's poems with a community. I could always elect to keep my poems in a bureau drawer, but since I sent them off to White Pine Press, and they were gracious enough to accept my work, I have a responsibility to help find readers.

2. I love the actual reading or teaching --- it's the "ask" part that I don't enjoy. Once the time rolls around to give a reading, I am happy to be in a room of like-minded people and share my poems and the experience of writing the poems. It's a real high to experience the keen quiet of an audience listening to the words you worked so hard to bring into vowels and constonents.

3. It's part of the job description.  I remember attending Breadloaf several years ago - the early 1990's - and a publisher spoke about how she would not sign a contract with an author who wouldn't agree to do a book tour. People want to meet the person behind the book.

4. It makes a difference to hear the poet in person.. I know I often like to have the voice of the poet in my head when I read a writer's work. I can't imagine reading Merwin without his clear as water timbre as accompaniment or Kaminsky without his rich incantation.

5. What's the worst thing that could happen? Someone tells me they don't have the money or desire to invite me to read. There. I said it. There are many worse things in life. Get over yourself (myself).

6. Stepping out of one's comfort zone is a good thing. With my last book, Cures Include Travel, I traveled to Slovenia and Bosnia, Minneapolis MN and Bennington VT. I reconnected with graduate school friends and got to meet new people. It was actually quite fun the majority of the time.

7. Promotion doesn't have to be a dirty word. I'm not the type of woman to do the hard sell thing. I will never try to sell my book at the local cafe or neighborhood bar. It's just not me. However, I love the idea of literary salons in private homes and why not do a literary salon where a percentage of book proceeds goes to a local literacy program or to aide people in Haiti?

8. Work with friends. I have three friends who have poetry books coming out within a few months of my own. We are planning to do several events together. It is so much easier to ask local arts organizations to work with a high powered group of poets instead of just me, myself, I.

9. P stands for Pep Talk. After ten years teaching in a college classroom and giving hundreds of poetry readings and workshops, I believe I'm pretty good at what I do. I want to communicate with my audience, My event is focused on them, not me.

10. People need more poetry in their lives. And that's not my quote. I heard it last Sunday on NPR. Lynne Rosetto Kasper had Elizabeth Alexander on her food show, "The Splendid Table" and Alexander read a wonderful poem about butter. Maybe book promotion is really community service with a different name.

I promised myself I would send out some queries about setting up readings for next fall. If anyone is looking for a poet who loves to give readings and presents awesome workshops ...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Remembering Lucile Clifton and wishing her safe passage as she "sail(s) through this to that"

blessing the boats

           (at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love you back    may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

When Ms. Lucille Clifton read in Seattle a year ago she wowed her audience with her poetry and her grace. In my copy of her book, Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000, she wrote "for Susan ~ Joy!" as I'm sure she wrote in hundreds of copies over the years. For you, Ms. Clifton, thank you for the "Joy" you brought to so many through your words and your deeds.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Floating Bridge Press publishes Crysta Casey's Green Cammie @ Open Books, Sunday, February 14th @ 3:00 PM

This Sunday afternoon!

Crysta E. Casey

From the Seattle PI:

Crysta E CASEY --. Although diagnosed with schizophrenia, she managed to get a waiver to enlist in the Marine Corps and served from June 1978, first as a journalist, then as a self-declared "Resident Poet", until honorably discharged under medical conditions on September 12, 1980. Crysta arrived in Seattle, up from Berkeley, in the early 1980s, when she began taking poetry classes with the late University of Washington professor, Nelson Bentley. Crysta often cited the professional and emotional support of, Sherry Reniker, Deborah Woodard, and Esther Helfgott.

Poet, artist, and veteran Crysta Casey left behind many friends and two poetry manuscripts when she died in 2008. Floating Bridge Press has drawn poems from those manuscripts to produce the collection Green Cammie ($12). To celebrate its publication, several of her friends will read from it this afternoon. Despite its title, Ms. Casey’s book is boldly, sometimes heartbreakingly without camouflage. Her journey through the military and through numerous hospitalizations is presented in unusual, often haunting detail. Quietly powerful, her poems convey both struggle and remarkable resilience. Her work as a writer and a painter (her striking self-portrait fills the book’s cover) both arose out of and nourished that resilience – “I like to paint the flowers / of condolence. I like to paint them / before they wilt.” 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Final Cover is Here!

The final cover! True; it is not so very different from what the last picture showed -- except to me. The choices of font size, font color, and of course the actual font have been on my mind the last few months. One thing I didn't waiver on was how much I love this image with its ominious clock face, glowing pots, and door windows behind more door windows. I find myself drawn into this picture the way the children in the 1960's Mary Poppins film find themselves inside the chalk painting on a London pavement. To me, this kitchen doesn't make me want to cook, as much as it makes me want to enter a kind of timelessness. I image that the clock on the wall has read five past one for awhile, that the pots don't hold dinner, but something more alchemical.

This fragment of a larger photograph was taken by my friend, the German photographer, Philipp Schumacher, whose work I fell in love with this past summer while we were both artists-in-residence at Fundacion Valparaiso. You can view more of his strange and compelling work right here. In fact, I will try to link to the full photograph that my cover comes from, stag and all. If the link doesn't work quite right; it will be the fourth image from the left. These lichbilders, or photographs are all created as one shot movies. Phillipp is drawn to unusual landscapes that seem to me to function as dreamscapes. He photographs in abandoned mines, old convents, and public swimming pools -- to name but a few locations. As with a Hollywood film, Schumacher's photographs imply certain narratives. He excels in the unexpected detail - and I know his career has only just begun. You saw him here, first!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Writer's Life - 10 Things to do with Rejection Slips

Thanks to the poet Martha Silano who wrote this list to cheer up a friend.

What to Do With Rejection Slips

1. Make paper airplane; aim for nearest recycling bin.
2. Hang on fridge with "You'll regret this" scrawled across it in red Sharpie.
3. Cut into tiny pieces; use as confetti the next time you write a great poem (i.e., tomorrow).
4. Cut up, along with photos of birds and flowers from magazines. Decoupage!
5. Paste it into your writing journal and draw a beautiful "frame' around it.  Cross out "we are sorry" and write "we are so very stupid."
6. Pin to dart board.
7. Shred; feed to worms.
8. When you have one hundred, cut in strips and fashion a paper chain to hang across your workroom ceiling.
9. When you have one thousand, kneel for the editor with the bleeding finger cut on your submission.
10. When you have ten thousand, self-publish.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Opportunity Knocks - Is This Awesome? - Grant Money for Innovative Ideas

I just came across The Awesome Foundation from Mira's List. Although they are based out of Boston, New York, and Providence, their web site states they consider proposals from all over. If you're project is chosen, it could be $1,000 for you. Every month a new awesome grant. 500 words is all it takes to be considered. What do you think?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: Thinking about Art and Poetry


"The most beautiful still lifes are never pristine and herein lies one of their secrets. The lemon has been half-peeled, the wine tasted, the bread broken; the oysters have been shucked, part of this great wheel of cheese cut away; the sealed chamber of the pie , held aloft in its high silver stand, has been opened. Someone has left this knife resting on the edge of the plate, its handle jutting toward us; someone plans, in a moment to pick it up again. These objects are in use, in dialogue, a part of, implicated. They refuse perfection, or rather they assert that this is perfection this state of being consumed, used up, enjoyed, existing in time."

Mark Doty, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon, 2001

I've been re-reading this wonderful book tonight and thinking about Doty's ideas on art and poetry. Towards the end of the book, he claims that still life and poetry do the same thing, the "inner life of the dead held in suspension" as if to work against mortality. Although this might very well be Doty's poetic project, it seems problematic to claim this across the poetic landscape. Perhaps this suspension happens after the poet is gone -- and then this fighting against forgetting could be true of any art form - not just still life and poetry? Why not sculpture? Movies? 

But I do like this whole sense of imperfection being the true perfection -- that we are meant to be half-baked, half-tasted, half gone in at least some respect. I'm preparing a section of the ekphrasis workshop on contemporary poets / poems. I've looked at poets who write poems inspired directly from music, photographs, and movies. If you have a favorite ekphrastic poem, please share! -- We already have Rilke, Auden, and Mueller all set to go ...

I am thinking of using poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Mark Doty, Natasha Tretheway, and Yusef Komunyakaa in my part of the presentation. Suggestions?

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Writer's Life: Proofing the Proofs for (I hope) the Final Time ...

This is the part of the book process that I find the most difficult. Not only do I worry incessantly that I am missing embarrassing typos, but my poems start to look very tired after the fourth, fifth, tenth go round. I usually don't obsess about whether my poems are good or bad -- they just are -- like my cats or my life. Tonight, however, I want them to be 100 proof like this expensive vodka. (I don't even drink vodka.)

 To cheer myself up I wrote this description of my book to a friend. I should probably not leave it up - but it feels so very true at the moment:

 Susan Rich wishes this book were better. She wants to be Elizabeth Bishop, but she is not. Try reading the poems about food — they will wet your appetite and you can then close the book and head out for a good meal.

I am so very happy to be almost finished with this process. I think when the book arrives on my doorstep in early April I will, of course, love it. Have other people had this intense self-doubt just as the book goes to the printer?

PS I just "proofed" this post and found a typo in the title. You see why I don't trust myself!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Last Orders - Speaking in Pictures - Saturday February 13th @ the Frye Art Museum

Lillias Bever and I are excited to be teaching this free poetry workshop at the Frye Art Museum a week from Saturday. There are only four slots open, but we would love to have you join us. I bought the book on exphrasis poetry, The Gazer's Spirit: Poems Speaking to Silent Works of Art by John Hollander and just found an essay and poem on Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party. One of the things I love about giving workshops is that I need to teach myself 100% more about the subject than what I would learn if I were taking a class. I get to live the curriculum for a few weeks while I plan what will be most useful for the mere 2.5 hours of class. I know many people who read this blog are as far away as India or Ireland, but if you're close enough to Seattle to join us, do come along!

Here is the Frye's description and you can always leave a question or comment here. 4 more places!

Speaking Pictures: A Poetry Workshop

Saturday, February 13, 2010
11 am - 1:30pm
“Painting is mute poetry, and poetry a speaking picture.” —Simonides
“Look at the subject, think about it before photographing, look until it becomes alive and looks back into you.” —Edward Steichen
Poets Susan Rich and Lillias Bever lead a workshop on ekphrasis, poems written about visual art. Famous models of the form by such poets as W.H. Auden, Rilke, Mary Oliver, and Lisel Mueller will be examined as well as recent examples by local poets published in Looking Together: Writers on Art (Frye Art Museum/ University of Washington Press, 2009). Participants will sharpen their powers of observation and try their hand at writing poems on works of art in the Frye’s collection. All levels of writers are welcome.
This free workshop is sponsored in part by 4Culture. For more information and to register, e-mail

About the Instructors
Susan Rich is the author of three books of poetry from White Pine Press, including The Cartographers’s Tongue, Cures Include Travels, and, forthcoming, The Alchemist’s Kitchen. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, PEN USA, and Artist Trust; her recent poems appear in The Antioch Review, Harvard Review and TriQuarterly. Susan teaches English and Film Studies at Highline Community College.
Lillias Bever’s book of poetry, Bellini in Istanbul, was published by Tupelo Press in 2005. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, and Gettysburg Review, among other places. She has been the recipient of fellowships and awards from Artist Trust, 4Culture, and the Seattle Arts Commission. Bellini in Istanbul was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award.