DIY MFA Group

This group is for those who want to study poetry, literary theory and the craft of writing as well as participate in workshops. We hope to have a deeper engagement with poetry and other forms of writing by reading and discussing work together. 

Meeting Agendas:

Sunday October 3rd, 7 PM

Spotlight Poet: Patricia Smith

“In contemporary American poetry, all roads lead to Patricia Smith. Look, maybe some of y’all are content with unproductive detours, lyric byways, and formal parking lots, but I’m a writer and a reader who wants to go to where the action is. Patricia Smith is that mecca, that metropolis, that neon city shining atop a jet-black hill.” -Saeed Jones, Read More

Please be mindful of the fact that Patricia Smith is a complex, nuanced writer, often of very difficult to pull off persona pieces that she does amazingly well but that doesn’t mean that we as a group can read out loud all of the things that she does. We will be looking at these poems of hers in particular:

Katrina

Buried

Siblings

Incendiary Art

Voodoo V: Enemy Be Gone


Sunday September 19, 7 PM

We’ll start by sharing how we go about writing poems, what is our process, how and what do we create? (No need to read in advance. We will go over these resources together.)

Please consider these kinds of craft concepts:

Also consider the limits of being able to explain craft with this article.

We may read together out loud any of the following poems to use as examples to talk about craft:
Psalm 150 by Jericho Brown

Poem For The Blackbird by Alina Stefanescu

us by Tory Dent

Bath by Amy Lowell

Moths by Jennifer O’Grady


Sunday September 12, 7 PM

Bring a poem or excerpt of any piece of writing of yours and get group feedback. (Not more than 2 pages please so we have enough time.) We’ll be doing the question format where participants write questions that they have about your poem in the chat and then the poet selects a question that they would like the group to talk about. Writers gain insight into their work, plus it is fun to talk about our work together. If you are not able to do a screen share, please email your poem to: pennapril@gmail.com


Sunday August 29, 7 PM

Coffee houses. Public readings. Poetry community. We’ll be focusing on The Poetry Project at St. Marks and some of the poets and work that brought about this powerhouse NYC community.

A Basic Mission Statement from their website:

from After the Wild Iris by Iris McCloughan

Steve Cannon reading a poem on YouTube

January at the Sutro Baths by Angie Sijun Lou

CA Conrad, Auguries Cast Aside

Find a poem you like in The Recluse:

A long, detailed history


Sunday June 25, 7 PM

How does a poet take an abstract concept and attach specific, raw details to it? Let’s take a closer look at metaphorical language in poetry to see what’s going on here and if we can develop our metaphor making skills more deeply.

Background on metaphor:

Poets, Allow Me to Reintroduce Metaphor and Simile by Hannah Huff

A scholarly look at metaphor:
Metaphor: A Poet is a Nightingale

Specific poems we’ll be reading together:
My Brother My Wound by Natalie Diaz

The Bridge by C Dale Young

From Which I Flew by Tyree Daye

Perhaps This Is For You by Mary Biddinger


Sunday July 11, 7 PM

Bring a poem or excerpt of any piece of writing of yours and get group feedback. Those who have written poems in form will get to go first, continuing our theme from the iambic pentameter/form event. (Not more than 2 pages please so we have enough time.) We’ll be doing the question format where participants write questions that they have about your poem in the chat and then the poet selects a question that they would like the group to talk about. Writers gain insight into their work, plus it is fun to talk about our work together. If you are not able to do a screen share, please email your poem to: pennapril@gmail.com


Sunday June 20, 7 PM

Let’s take a closer look at What is Iambic Pentameter.

We’ll be discussing Shakespeare’s famous Sonnet #18.

Here is an interesting performance of it as a rap.

Here’s a glossary of poetic terms that you might find useful.


Sunday June 6, 7 PM

We’ll be exploring the poetic references and influences on Bob Dylan. This article touches on a few.

Here’s a playlist of the songs that we’ll be looking at:

Here are the lyrics of the songs:

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

Tangled Up in Blue

Desolation Row

Mr. Tambourine Man

I Contain Multitudes

Ballad of a Thin Man


Sunday May 30, 7 PM

Composed around 330 BC, Aristotle’s Poetics is a foundation of literary criticism and discussion about what is poetry, art, theater etc… We’ll read some passages from Aristotle’s Poetics but no need to read in advance unless you want to (it’s a lot and we won’t get to it all). Here’s a video that introduces this topic.

Aristotle’s Poetics:

Section 1

Section 2

Section 3


Sunday, May 23, 7 PM

Writer’s Workshop

Bring a poem or excerpt of any piece of writing of yours and get group feedback. (Not more than 2 pages please so we have enough time.) We’ll be doing the question format where participants write questions that they have about your poem in the chat and then the poet selects a question that they would like the group to talk about. Writers gain insight into their work, plus it is fun to talk about our work together. If you are not able to do a screen share, please email your poem to: pennapril@gmail.com


Sunday May 16, 7 PM

Come get existential with us and debate what it means to be a poet. Each of these poems shows a different vantage point of the poet’s life and purpose. We’ll read out loud and discuss the poems together so you don’t have to read in advance.

so you want to be a writer? by Charles Bukowski

For the young who want to by Marge Piercy

In Memory of W.B. Yeats by W. H. Auden

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

Poetry by Pablo Neruda

Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish


Sunday May 9, 7 PM

Let’s celebrate Mother’s Day by reading poems about springtime. Usually I go to the Arboretum and smell the lilacs around Mother’s Day but this is a great virtual option. Here are some poems we’ll check out:
After the Winter by Claude McKay

Dear One Absent This Long While by Lisa Olstein

More Than Enough by Marge Piercy

Feuerzauber by Louis Untermeyer

For more spring poems, check out the Poetry Foundation’s spring poems:


Sunday May 2, 7 PM

Performing Edgar Allan Poe

We’ll consider what makes Poe’s famous poem, The Raven, so conducive to dramatic performance. Here’s the text of the poem:
Here’s a dramatic performance of The Raven.
I found this video useful if you want to see the text as it is read.


Sunday April 25, 7 PM

Does poem order matter in a manuscript and affect how different poems are read? We’ll read some parts of this article out loud together.

We will read some of the poems in this chapbook by Clay Cantrell to analyze it for poem order.


Sunday April 18, 7 PM

We’ll be talking about the Poetry Foundation’s introduction to the Harlem Renaissance by reading some classic poems together. Folks are also welcome to share other notable poems from the Harlem Renaissance. Here are some poems we might read together. You don’t have to read anything in advance:

Foredoom by Georgia Douglas Johnson

America by Claude McKay

Dunbar by Anne Spencer

November Cotton Flower by Jean Toomer

The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes


Sunday April 11, 7 PM

Writer’s Workshop

Bring a poem or excerpt of any piece of writing of yours and get group feedback. (Not more than 2 pages please so we have enough time.) We’ll be doing the question format where participants write questions that they have about your poem in the chat and then the poet selects a question that they would like the group to talk about. Writers gain insight into their work, plus it is fun to talk about our work together. If you are not able to do a screen share, please email your poem to: pennapril@gmail.com


Sunday April 4, 7 PM

We’ll be reading some of the greatest hits of poems about music, as selected by the Poetry Foundation.

Canary by Rita Dove

Blues for Almost Forgotten Music by Roxane Beth Johnson

& A wildcard pick- maybe you have a poem that you like- feel free to share that or we can pick another from the Poetry Foundation’s list.


Sunday March 28, 7 PM

We’re going to talk about what parataxis is– when you use short sentences or phrases without connecting them with conjunctions like “but.” Something poets do often. June Jordan’s poems will be good examples of parataxis so we’ll read them out loud. You don’t have to read anything in advance.

Here’s information about parataxis:

Here are poems by June Jordan:
Poem About My Rights

The Bombing of Baghdad

Here is a complex literary analysis on parataxis. June Jordan’s work is first mentioned on p. 289.


Sunday March 21st, 7 PM

We’ll read together poems about chronic illness and disability. Poetry as a way of making sense of these experiences…What can we learn about turning pain into language, resistance & rebellion?

Liv Mammone, Surgery Psalm

Hieu Minh Nguyen, Type II

Natalie E. Illum, I know It’s Easier For You

The Poetry Foundation has a lot of poems on this topic if you are interested in further reading.


Sunday March 14, 7 PM

Writer’s Workshop

Bring a poem or excerpt of any piece of writing of yours (you’re encouraged to bring a poem in form but that’s just a suggestion) and get group feedback. (Not more than 2 pages please so we have enough time.) We’ll be doing the question format where participants write questions that they have about your poem in the chat and then the poet selects a question that they would like the group to talk about. Writers gain insight into their work, plus it is fun to talk about our work together. If you are not able to do a screen share, please email your poem to: pennapril@gmail.com


Sunday March 7, 7 PM

What is the modern sonnet? If you write a poem that is 14 lines, does that count as a sonnet (given that you can break all the original rules)? Let’s explore the modern sonnet. Here’s a couple of introductory resources, followed by modern sonnets that we’ll read together. No need to read in advance. This will prepare us for a writer’s workshop that focuses on poems written in form.

Info about how to write a sonnet

History of the sonnet and modern-day look at the sonnet

Sonnets to read together:
Terrance Hayes, American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin

Billy Collins, Sonnet

Sam Rush, Sonnet for speech too soft & you who’ve yet to choose a name

Jay Deshpande, Sonnet Written Walking Under The Mess Some Magnolia Made


Sunday February 28, 7 PM

From Arthur Rimbaud to Rachel McKibbens, we’ll be looking at the influence of surrealism in art and poetry. We’ll start with surrealist paintings by Remedios Varo and discuss the elements of surrealism. (Note-you don’t have to read anything in advance unless you want to. We’ll show the images and read the poems together.)

Remedios Varo

Leonora Carrington

Arthur Rimbaud- A Season In Hell

Rachel McKibbens-Bon Dieu


Sunday February 21, 7 PM

Writer’s Workshop:

Bring a poem or excerpt of any piece of writing of yours and get group feedback. (Not more than 2 pages please so we have time for everyone.) We’ll be doing the question format where participants write questions that they have about your poem in the chat and then the poet selects a question that they would like the group to talk about. Writers gain insight into their work, plus it is fun to talk about our work together. If you are not able to do a screen share, please email your poem to: pennapril@gmail.com


Sunday February 14, 7 PM

Plato’s Republic, written in 380 BC, is perhaps most famous for the Allegory of the Cave. We’ll be reading parts of the famous passage out loud in the group so you don’t have to read in advance unless you want to. I found a YouTube video that explains Plato’s allegory. Also here is Book 7 of Plato’s Republic where you will find the allegory of the cave discussion.


Sunday February 7, 4:30 PM

We’ll be discussing etymology–the origin of a word and the historical development of its meaning– by reading poems that deal with etymology. Here are the poems we’ll be reading:

Touchy by Elizabeth Bradfield

Threshing the Word: Sappho and a Particle Physics of Language
by Meredith Stricker

etymology
by Airea D. Matthews


Sunday January 31, 7 PM

What is elliptical poetry? Are these “elliptical” poets similar to each other? What post-modern qualities do they have in common?

Here’s the Boston Review article that coined the term “elliptical.”

We’ll be reading out loud these poems:

Alphabet’s End by Susan Wheeler

Book by Mark Levine

Extreme Wisteria by Lucie Brock-Broido

Back to Country by Liam Rector


Sunday January 24, 7 PM

Radical Trans Poetics: LGBTQIA Poets On Gender & Language

We’ll be reading two poems from An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics as well as two poems by torrin a greathouse. If we have time, we’ll also read a poem by Eileen Myles. Through a close reading of these poems, we’ll talk about some of the characteristics of radical trans poetics and what we can learn about language/identity/body etc… If anyone is interested in further reading, here is an interview with Emerson Whitney I found interesting and here’s a list of LGBT poets and writers. Also check out authors from the Radical Trans Poetics anthology here on YouTube reading their own work.


Sunday, January 17, 7 PM

Writer’s Workshop: Flash Fiction & Narrative Poetry

Bring your flash fiction (very short stories) or your narrative poetry and get feedback about it. Maximum of two pages. If the writing is very short, you may put multiple works on the page. We’ll be doing the question format where participants write questions that they have about your poem in the chat and then the writer selects a question that they would like the group to talk about. Writers gain insight into their work, plus it is fun to talk about our work together. If you are not able to do a screen share, please email your work to: pennapril@gmail.com


Sunday, January 10, 7 PM

An Introduction to Flash Fiction


Sunday January 3, 7 PM

Poetry of the Bubonic Plague and Beyond

What does the poetry of the Bubonic Plague have to teach us about the influence of plagues on art and culture? How will our current times affect the future of poetry? Are past plagues a looking glass into the future or something else entirely?

We’ll discuss Danse Macabre: Totentanz by Bernt Notke. Here is an intro:

And here is a blog that has the text of Totentanz if you scroll down.

Here’s a general article about poetry and plague.

For further reading, here is an article with various plague related poems.


Sunday December 27, 7 PM

Writer’s Workshop


Sunday December 20, 7 PM

Poetry in Translation: Translation from Irish, Greek & More focusing on the question: What are challenges of translation and what does that teach us about language?

Why I Choose To Write In Irish

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, also in Poetry Foundation here

Three Irish Poets

Labhair an Teanga Ghaeilge

Padraig Pearse: Mise Eire

Mise Éire – I am Ireland

Easter Rising 1916: Mise Éire / I am Ireland by Pádraig Pearse


Sunday December 13, 7 PM

What is it like to experience the beauty of poetry? How do we also experience the sublime? Why do we make art? Let’s take a look at Immanuel Kant’s theories to help us connect with poetry more deeply. Check out this video here for more information: We will be reading these two poems together:

John Keats’ Ode on A Grecian Urn

Reginald Shepherd’s The Friend


Sunday December 6, 7 PM

Beat Poetry Night

Beat Poetry Introduction 

Here are the poems we will read out loud:
An Exercise In Love by Diane Di Prima

A Supermarket in California by Allen Ginsberg

Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout by Gary Snyder


Sunday November 29, 7 PM

Writer’s Workshop: Bring a poem or excerpt of any piece of writing of yours and get group feedback. (Not more than 2 pages please so we have time for everyone.) We’ll be doing the question format where participants write questions that they have about your poem in the chat and then the poet selects a question that they would like the group to talk about. Writers gain insight into their work, plus it is fun to talk about our work together. If you are not able to do a screen share, please email your poem to: pennapril@gmail.com


Sunday November 22, 7 PM

Background of experimental writing

World’s shortest poem

An example of concrete poetry: Marilyn Nelson’s Fingers Remember

Gertrude Stein reading If I Told Him a Completed Portrait of Picasso

Fred Moten

Michael F. Gill talking about his conceptual piece where he repeats the word “grapefruit” for hours


Sunday, November 15, 7 PM

British Romanticism: Wordsworth & Keats

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth

Ode On A Grecian Urn by John Keats

Extra Readings for the poet nerds:
Poem Guide to John Keats’ Ode On A Grecian Urn

Observations Prefixed to Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth

Selections from Keats’ Letters

William Wordworth 101

John Keats 101


Sunday, November 8, 2020, 7 PM

The Intimacy of Superstition: How do poets use superstition to create intimacy in their work? Is superstition a believed act of the imagination? How do we mix belief with the unbelievable to create connection with readers? 
Check out Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s article, The Poetry of Superstition and Supposition, and try one of the prompts if you’d like.
We will read out loud and discuss these poems: 
Superstition by Ashley August
Superstition by Amy Lowell


Sunday, November 1, 2020, 7 PM

Dark Romanticism

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe (Read by Suzanne O’Toole)

Current day examples of “Gothic”: Daphne GottliebC BainCassandra de Alba


Sunday, October 25, 2020, 7PM

Writer’s Workshop


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Our topic tonight is Imagism. Here is an Imagism 101 Introduction.

Here are Imagist poems we’ll be reading and discussing :

13 Ways of Looking At A Blackbird by Wallace Stevens

The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter by Ezra Pound

Evening by H.D.

Here are some additional readings and information in case you are interested:

No More Cane (Charlie says “No More Cane is a traditional roots song ascribed to Leadbelly and performed by many including Odetta and The Band. I am interested in that because it would be considered oral and dialectic poetry but fulfills quite nicely the ideals of imagism.”)

T.S. Elliot Objective correlative

An article on the Eastern influence on American Imagism


Sunday, October 11, 2020 at 7 PM

Line Breaks In Poetry:

Poetic Devices Explained: Line Breaks

Line Breaks In Poetry Video

Poetic Line Breaks Guide


Sunday, October 4, 2020 at 7 PM

Wildcard Warm up

We’ll discuss reading this poetic essay by Natalie Diaz: If What I Mean Is Hummingbird, If What I Mean Is Fall Into My Mouth

Also we’ll use this video by Ethan Hawke as a way to give ourselves permission to be creative.


Sunday September 27, 2020 at 7 PM

Wildcard Warm ups

Discussion of Is “Show Don’t Tell” a Universal Truth or a Colonial Relic? By Namrata Poddar

Please add to our list of meeting topic ideas here. If you’d like to submit a topic proposal for a future meeting, please email pennapril@gmail.com the following information: Meeting Topic Title, A Brief Description of the Topic, Links or PDFs of readings/resources that we will use.


Sunday September 20, 2020 at 7 PM

Intros

Writer’s Workshop: Please bring a poem that you wrote or an excerpt of any piece of writing written by you (1-2 pages max). You read your work out loud to the group and then others type questions that they have about the work into the chat. You pick your favorite 2 questions and then the group discusses your work based on those questions.

Please add to our list of meeting topic ideas here. If you’d like to submit a topic proposal for a future meeting, please email pennapril@gmail.com the following information: Meeting Topic Title, A Brief Description of the Topic, Links or PDFs of readings/resources that we will use.


Date: Sunday, September 13, 2020 @ 7 PM

Intros

Wildcard Warm Up(s)

Discuss Will Harris On The Idea of Poetry As Interconnectedness


Date: 09/06/2020, 7 PM (via Zoom)

Intros

Wild Card Warm Up (One or more participants may share a poem that the group then talks about.)

List of Future Ideas

Discuss Article (Please note we won’t be discussing this article until the second meeting, but this is an example of what we may read and discuss in this group.) Will Harris On The Idea of Poetry As Interconnectedness

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