Thursday, August 8, 2013

What I Learned, Unlearned, and Relearned from Jane Hirshfield

Here are some of my notes from Jane Hirshfield's workshop and bits from her craft talk during the Napa Valley Writers' Conference last week. Fragments, really. Advice for writers, readers, and humans alike. Apply them in whatever way works for you. Enjoy.

  • Sounds tilt a poem. Uneven steps on a staircase, the rhythm of attention. The reader will look hard for solid ground. 
  • A stanza is a room.
  • Sound-heavy, non-narrative poems best move by music. You will know when the poem is "good" because it feels good in your body. 
  • By paying attention to syntax, rhyme, assonance, rhythm, alliteration, and so on, you can train yourself out of the weight of dead metaphors. 
  • The tools of a poem are the tools of lying. 
  • Poets are tricksters. Words out of bounds. Alter the landscape of the given.
  • A poem isn't artless just because it says it is. 
  • Poetry is played on the instrument of the reader. 
  • Humans know death, but we don't know when., the impossible belief of it. 
  • Omnipossible. 
  • Follow the rule of three. 
  • People will read the poem they read. 
  • Try things.
  • Poetry is about the preservation of an inner life and subjectivity.
  • We save what we can. 
  • Manage emotions through rhythm. Fragments slow the reader. 
  • Prepare the reader for abstraction with images.
  • Give yourself permission to travel, to invent, to go somewhere.

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