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The Art of Revision: A Craft Talk & Workshop with Joan Houlihan via Zoom

March 13 @ 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm


More than any of the other writing arts, poetry satisfies the imagination through strategic omission, surprising order, precise or unexpected word choices and deep subtext. We read what’s implied or implicit in a poem as intensely as we read the actual lines themselves, gleaning more of what is being said by noticing the unsaid: tone of voice, rhetorical style, which topic is avoided or which word repeated; in other words, we read between the lines.  We also read between the lines to build emotional subtext and narrative by connecting far-flung images, words and phrases, line to line; by sifting, adding, combining and synthesizing the visible and invisible parts of each line as we read.

This workshop poses the questions: How does the poem achieve its effects?  How does the poet control these effects so as to collaborate with the intuition of the reader? How do we, as readers, construct meaning in poems without all the information?  And, most importantly, how can we bring these techniques to bear when revising our own poems?

Participants will bring a draft or a poem in process.

NB: This is a one-day writing workshop taught on Zoom and capped at 15 students.

Please make sure to read our course policies page regarding workshop conduct and logistics before registering for any class at HVWC.

Scholarship information will be available for this class in January. Applications will be due on February 15th.

Joan Houlihan is the author of five books of poetry, most recently, Shadow-feast (Four Way Books, 2018). Other books include Hand-Held Executions: Poems & Essays (2003); The Mending Worm (2006 Green Rose Award from New Issues Press); The Us (2009; Must-Read distinction from the Massachusetts Center for the Book), and Ay (2014), a sequel to The Us, both from Tupelo Press. In addition to publishing in a wide array of journals, including Boston Review, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Arts, Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, Plume andPoetry, her poems have been anthologized in The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (University of Iowa Press, 2005); The Book of Irish-American Poetry, 18th Century to Present, (University of Notre Dame, 2007); The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins, (Clemson University Press, 2016), and The Eloquent Poem: 128 Contemporary Poems and Their Making (Persea Books, 2019). She has taught at Columbia University, Emerson College and Smith College. She currently serves on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is Professor of Practice in Poetry at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Houlihan founded and directs the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.


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March 13
12:30 pm - 4:30 pm
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