The best prose writers aren’t just storytellers; they’re poets. Even if you’re already confident in your prose-writing voice, sharpening your poetic sensibilities can powerfully improve the quality of your work, whether that means bringing scenes into greater focus through imagery or experimenting with rhythm to form sentences that really sing.
In this six-week hybrid class, we’ll each workshop 2-3 poems as well as 2-3 short sections of prose (the opening paragraph of a short story, for example) in a low-pressure, highly-supportive environment. We’ll generate new work during in-class writing exercises aimed at elevating our lyricism and metaphorical gifts. For inspiration, we’ll look at writing by poetry-prose all-stars like Margaret Atwood, Denis Johnson, Audre Lorde, Maggie Nelson, and Ocean Vuong. By the end of the class, you'll feel equipped to express yourself on the page in new ways. Poetry beginners welcome and encouraged!
- Develop skills you can apply to enrich your prose style in any genre
- Achieve the kind of visual specificity / richness that editors love
- Gain exposure to poetry and express yourself more freely (and more powerfully) on the page
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
- Weekly submission of poem or short section of prose for workshop
- Short and engaging reading assignments as homework to foster class discussion
- Thoughtful and respectful in-class commentary on peer work
- Open-minded approach to in-class writing prompts in both poetry and prose
Ben Purkert is the author of For the Love of Endings, named one of Adroit's best poetry books of 2018. His poems and book reviews appear in The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and elsewhere. An editor at Guernica, he is the founder of Back Draft, an interview series focused on poetry and revision. Formerly a New York Times fellow at NYU, he teaches at Rutgers.
"I have had the distinct pleasure of studying with Ben for over a year now (twice at Catapult) and my poetry has gone from decent to good to even better. What I love most about Ben as a teacher is that he is a gentle ruler. Not only an accomplished poet, but Ben is also a fine moderator and participant. What I love most about Ben as a person is the egalitarian approach he applies to the work itself and to each and every one of his students— every poem and poet is valued. We are met on our level and offered feedback that can actually pierce one’s own generative resources and imagination rather than impose a tried and true prescription. Ben is a gem."
"Ben was such a wonderfully supportive teacher while still giving me feedback that was critical and useful. I feel like he helped me look at my poetry through new eyes and I'm a much better self-editor because of it. I enjoyed his Catapult class more than many of my NYU workshops."
"It was lit."
"[A] perceptive debut... The collection pings with delightful precision between the objects that connect people and those that divide."
"This is a poetry that makes a place for the tangential, the trace, the touch, a tomorrow.”
"I want this book to float out into the cosmos to reach future and existing forms of intelligence—to let them know there was at least one beautiful/difficult, dark/brilliant side to us earthlings.”