While the line break is sometimes assumed to be the signature feature of a poem, and while poetic or lyric prose is often considered a "hybrid'' form, prose's punctuations and margins have a rich history of surprisingly varied use within poetry. Poets have worked with letters, journals, and even emails or obituaries as prose forms, as well as with classic prose shapes like the paragraph or the sentence. But the prose poem is deceptively complicated—for instance, two poems might appear to be visually similar but accomplish very different rhythms and moods once a reader enters them.
In this workshop, we'll explore some of the history of the prose poem and its contemporary uses through an attention to form, punctuation, and its tendency to appear in series. Participants will leave with drafts of new poems and a chance to workshop and receive feedback on one of these poems, as well as a working understanding of some of the history and possibilities of the prose poem. This class is about exposure and experiment, rather than mastery, so while it's imagined for students with some previous experience writing poetry, it's open to anyone!
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- Working understanding of the prose poem as a generative category
- Learn specific ways to compose and revise your poems
- Peer and instructor feedback in workshop
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Read ~8 poems as well as 1-2 craft essays for each class. Students are expected to turn in one poem a week for the instructor to review and will have one opportunity to workshop and receive feedback in class.
Week 1: The Sentence & The Paragraph
Week 2: Journals, Letters, Obituaries, Descriptions
Week 3: Other Punctuations, Workshop
Week 4: A Tendency to Serialize, Workshop
(All weeks will include generative writing prompts)
S. Brook Corfman is the author of My Daily Actions, or The Meteorites, one of The New York Times Best Poetry Books of 2020, finalist for a Publishing Triangle Award, and chosen by Cathy Park Hong for the Fordham University Press poetry prize. They are also the author of Luxury, Blue Lace, chosen by Richard Siken for the 2018 Autumn House Rising Writer Prize, and several chapbooks including Frames (Belladonna* #256). Their work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, AGNI, andThe Brooklyn Rail, among other places. Born in Chicago, they now live in a turret in Pittsburgh.
"Sam was always open to questions from students. They also always led discussions in an organized, but lively manner—if things started to slow down, they'd get things started back up again. Also, enthusiasm was infectious - they clearly loved what they were talking about, and wanted us to love it, too. That energy pumped me up during class, and drove me to improve."
"Sam is one of my favorite professors...provided detailed and constructive feedback on assignments, organized the class materials and assignments well"
"I enjoyed the interactive nature of the classroom, which helped my learning but also allowed me to form friendships with the other students in the class. I always felt engaged and like my thoughts were heard and debates never got out of hand. It is a truly wonderful class."
"S. Brook Corfman's MY DAILY ACTIONS, OR THE METEORITES is one of the most distinctive poetic journals I’ve read in that it expanded my already quite ‘out there’ ideas of the ordinary. Welcome to the incredibly true life of poets. Often, being attuned to the everyday means we are also riddled with premonition. Whenever two things interact with each other, they exert forces upon each other. That’s Newton. Here, Corfman finds a liberating universe in areas of fleeting contact...The dangers to our lives (rigid thinking turned into law, ecological disaster) are seen as both modern and ancient. Let Corfman be the poet in your ear offering a little magic to thrive."
"Relying on abstraction and the unspoken, Corfman shapes a story of unique gender experience and transformation in this extraordinary debut...Like Seurat’s painting A SUNDAY AFTERNOON ON THE ISLAND OF LA GRANDE JATTE, which Corfman references, readers may easily lose themselves in these poems’ own form of pointillism. Corfman writes from carefully detailed liminal spaces, producing a work of rare beauty and thoughtfulness."
"Poems of fear and foreboding that live with the knowledge of climate crisis, without resorting to self-righteousness or self-flagellation. The form is mostly prose blocks, built of elusive, mysteriously fascinating sentences that often hinge on apparent contradiction, the simultaneity of seemingly opposite states.”