(Un)broken: Leveraging the Poetic Line
11 October at 18:00 – 20:00 EDT
Open to all.
Limited to 12 participants.
We plan to hold this workshop in person at the QWF office, with up to two virtual slots available for people who are unable to come to our office. If public health conditions necessitate it, this workshop may transition to a purely online model.
With few exceptions, poets have access to one tool that other writers do not: the line. A defining feature of its genre, the poetic line plays many roles in shaping a poem’s character. The line can serve simultaneously as pacing device, secondary grammar, image container, rhythm driver, and spotlight for sound.
In contemporary free verse, attention is often paid to breaking the line. While valuable, this thinking locates a line’s gravitational pull largely at its end, sometimes excluding other possibilities. Lines, after all, are made as well as broken. And through this making, a poem’s fingerprint takes shape.
This generative poetry workshop offers poets of all levels the chance to develop a broader and more nuanced understanding of how poems derive power from the line’s possibilities—including, but also extending beyond, its breaking. We’ll consider first lines, line integrity, flavours of enjambment, and the line as both sound-vessel and gloss. We’ll also reflect on what happens between lines by thinking about juxtaposition, stanza, and pacing.
Overall, the goal is to support participants in enhancing their free verse at the line level as they generate new work. Participants can expect to draft four to six new poems and have at least one poem workshopped by the group. Early sessions will involve generative writing prompts and craft discussions, while later sessions will focus on workshopping. To anchor our craft discussions, we’ll look at work from a variety of contemporary poets. Writers should bring one of their own poems to the first session as a way of introducing themselves and their work.
Sarah Wolfson is the author of A Common Name for Everything, which won the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Canadian and American journals such as The Walrus, The Fiddlehead, TriQuarterly, Prairie Fire, CV2, Michigan Quarterly Review, and PRISM international. Her work has earned notable mention in Best Canadian Poetry and funding from the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan. Originally from Vermont, she now lives in Montreal, where she teaches writing at McGill University.