Online | Poetry | Workshop

6-Week Online Poetry Workshop: Revising Your Drafts Like a Gardener & Not Police

Perhaps you’ve been told at some point or another: “Writing is revising.” Well, it’s true. Writing is revising—but what exactly does this mean? Editing line breaks? Adding stanzas? Cutting down? Throwing the whole thing in the trash?

Revising can be intimidating territory for all of us, but in this workshop we will take a different approach from that of the exacting editor that lives in most of our brains. While there is a time and place for laser-beam “editing” as we tend to think of it, those first and second drafts are almost never the time or place to do so at a productive pace. Instead, we will focus on re-imagining our poems from a place of possibility.

In this workshop, we will approach our poems as gardeners and not police, remembering that they are merely drafts—fertile soil for possible regenerations of an original impulse or feeling. Drawing from Rachel Zucker’s method of “radical revision,” we will examine our own poems through lenses of re-visioning, exploring new incarnations our poems might exist in. This course is aimed toward intermediate to advanced students who already have a number of poems to choose from that they would like to radically revise, whether they be new or old. Students should note that because of time constraints per week, those up for workshop can only submit one poem for feedback consideration.

Also, because writing is also reading, we will close-read a number of poems and essays of my choosing. The poets and authors in this course have been intentionally selected to include some of the finest, most formally and subjectively rigorous contemporary writing in publication today. With careful attention, we will examine how these writers—Black and brown writers, queer writers, writers from economically disadvantaged backgrounds—reinvent the world before our eyes on the page. 

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.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Students will have two opportunities for robust, generative workshop feedback of old or new poems

- Students will practice close reading others work—and their own— with an eye for possibility, not merely faults

- Students will read from a wide range of carefully selected poets

- Students will participate in a closed “reading” of their radically revised poems with the class on the very last day of the course

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

Students will engage in writing weekly discussion posts about the reading on the Catapult website, and will be invited to submit either old or new poems for our "radical revision" workshops. Students will receive brief written feedback from me as the instructor, and have the option to schedule a 30-minute video conference with me during the course of the class for more detailed discussion.

COURSE SKELETON:

This is a six-week course. Students will submit responses to weekly discussion prompts. 30 minutes of class will be devoted to reading discussion, and the remaining 60 minutes to workshop.

If students would like to participate in a 30-minute video conference with Natasha, they will have the opportunity to schedule that meeting.

Natasha Oladokun

Natasha Oladokun (she/her) is a poet and essayist. She holds fellowships from Cave Canem, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Jackson Center for Creative Writing, Twelve Literary Arts, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was the inaugural First Wave Poetry fellow. Her work has appeared in the American Poetry Review, The Academy of American Poets, Harvard Review Online, and Kenyon Review Online. You can read her column The PettyCoat Chronicles—on pop culture and period dramas—at Catapult. She is Associate Poetry Editor at storySouth, and currently lives in Madison, WI.

Testimonials

"Natasha facilitated conversation and workshops with care and expertise, and was very generous with her time and knowledge."

former student

“In addition to being excellent at her craft, Natasha Oladokun is an exceptional teacher. She modeled incredibly compassionate and constructive feedback that never held back in its striving for excellence.”

former student

"[T]hat’s what made the workshop structure so different from others Natasha has taught. Whereas normally workshop feedback tends to focus too heavily on the minutiae of the poem’s structure — “Why did you break the line here?” — Natasha’s First Wave workshop cut straight to the meat of the process: “Looking at what the poem is saying as opposed to how it is behaving,” and saving the minutiae for the final review process."

former student

"That’s the lens of writing that makes Natasha’s writing feel so profoundly personal, even for a disconnected reader. I sometimes read her work and feel like the words came from myself. The language floats there, just off the page, like a prayer I took from someone else that’s still mine when it leaves my lips."

Tommy Valtin-Erwin UW-Madison

"Natasha Oladokun is a poet practiced in distinctions. Articulating the inchoate with precision, Oladokun often writes about the body: its history, myths, and relationships."

Han Martin Image Journal