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On Personal History and the Lyric with Nathan McClain

March 10 @ 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm

According to Louise Gluck, “Poems are autobiography, but divested of the trappings of chronology and comment, the metronomic alternation of anecdote and response” (Proofs and Theories). To be put another way, Ellen Bryant Voigt concludes that “the ‘life’ is inextricable from the work; for a writer, they are the same thing” (The Flexible Lyric). In this one-day intensive workshop, we will explore the intersections between the life and the work and discuss how one invariably informs the other. We will discuss Gluck’s suggestion that all writing, in some manner, is autobiographical, though biography is not necessarily narrative. We will discuss character. We will discuss the lyric form. We will also discuss image and its important function in a poem to add greater nuance and import. These are just a few aspects of writing and thought that have proven immensely important to my own work. Participants will generate new poem drafts as well as, with our allotted time, workshop and discuss those drafts. We will closely read and discuss poems by Gregory Pardlo, Elizabeth Bishop, Mark Strand, Carl Phillips, Jack Gilbert, and Diane Seuss, among possible others.
Nathan McClain is the author of Scale (Four Way Books, 2017), the 2017 Gregory Pardlo Frost Place Poetry fellow, and a recipient of scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. A Cave Canem fellow, his poems and prose have recently appeared or are forthcoming in New York Times Magazine, upstreet, The Rumpus, The Southeast Review, and Verse Daily. He currently teaches at Hampshire College.


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March 10
12:30 pm - 4:30 pm
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Hudson Valley Writers Center
Philipse Manor Station
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591 United States