“If it ain’t broke, break it.”
The old adage has us believing that we should leave well enough alone. But when it comes to the editing process, we’ll toss that motto out the window for a radical new methodology. Instead of seeing each new draft as a linear progression toward the The Best One, we’ll prioritize play, experimentation, accident, subversion and the f-word: fun.
By abandoning the notion that we are laboriously ascending Poem Mountain to its tippy-top, we can start to enjoy the freedom of breaking out of prescribed paths and instead, welcome new imagistic connections and narratives. Using various prompts and guiding interdisciplinary texts, we’ll leave behind the sterile preciousness of a draft for a greater wilderness. Our goal is that revision itself becomes a deeply creative act, gifting us the skillset of flexibility, spontaneity, and confidence in the unknown.
Students should have some prior workshop experience and should come to class with several poems they are enthusiastic about editing.
- A supportive, playful, and meditative environment in which you receive extensive feedback from peers and the instructor
- Exercises and revision tools to break up your patterns and get you unstuck
- A multidisciplinary lens—for example, visual art and music prompts—inciting a fuller understanding of yourself as an artist
- A deep dive into the process from first draft to polished poem and how to give your work the best chance in the submission queue
*no class Dec. 26 or Jan. 2
Shira Erlichman is a poet, musician, and visual artist. She was born in Israel and immigrated to the US when she was six. Her poems explore recovery—of language, of home, of mind—and value the "scattered wholeness" of healing. She earned her BA at Hampshire College and has been awarded the James Merrill Fellowship by the Vermont Studio Center, the Visions of Wellbeing Focus Fellowship at AIR Serenbe, and a residency from the Millay Colony. Her debut poetry book is Odes to Lithium. She is also the author and illustrator of Be/Hold. She lives in Brooklyn where she teaches writing and creates.
“Through her nonlinear narrative of hospitalization, treatment and everyday life, Erlichman turns a confessional self-portrait of crisis into a chemical, chimerical joyride toward self-acceptance. . . These stylistic upheavals reinvigorate the book’s project again and again, allowing the ode form tremendous malleability and verve, all the while destigmatizing bipolar disorder through candor, intimacy and creativity."
"ODES TO LITHIUM is a remarkable book: it is beautiful, deeply perceptive, haunting, and original. It is wonderful.”
"...an artist in full control of her craft. There’s nothing easy about these poems, in their reading or in their creation, and that makes them worth exploring in greater depth."
"Erlichman’s authentic perspective and electric language work to quicken the reader’s pulse. She writes with grace, honesty, and ferocity about her experience with mental illness."
“Erlichman’s honesty in reckoning with mental illness in this collection is engulfing. Her visceral language (accompanied by vivid drawings and collages) brings the reader through the rippling effects of bipolar disorder and triumphantly emerges from the murky waters of stigma.”
“Oh, Radiance. Survival and Surviving Field. How rare, an Eye like this, so able to access its marrow language—original, honest, dear, strange. These poems document and enact processes of finding a language imaginative and struggling enough to carry one’s life. Moving us through imagistic splay and shift, the line is Erlichman’s measure: ‘I know what the sea knows / with the bottom of its mind / unfathomed.’ These poems, I think, are little ‘sight’-engines—miraculous, fevered, whirring things. I’m astonished by breath and lasting at all. I ‘pull a flower / from her skull / & weave it into mine.’ I love her way, her mind.”