Selected Emphases in Poetry III:
Art of the Line: WS Merwin and a Study in Lineation
Instructor: Gene Pfeiffer
Class Type: Literature & Craft
In this literature/craft course we will look at the life and writing of American poet W.S. Merwin, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, National Book Award and Tanning Prize winner, the 17th United States Poet Laureate, master of line breaks, and tender of ancient trees.
At the end of the course, students will have a better understanding of Merwin’s range and his evolving aesthetics. (Which we may see in our own journeys as writers.) We’ll sample his early more formal poetry, rooted in classical myths and ballads, and then follow his move to a looser and more experimental poetry that eventually drops all punctuation to capture the sounds of speech and mark the path of breath and thought coming alive on the page. The constant for Merwin’s work was his evocative imagery and his ease at dealing in ambiguities – life and death, earthly and spiritual. We will discuss how his work was influenced by Eastern philosophy, deep ecology and his activist nature.
The course will include weekly discussions of Merwin’s work, craft readings and weekly journal writing exercises. We’ll also workshop our own work that may or may not borrow from the world of Merwin.
The Essential W.S. Merwin
Copper Canyon Press (2017)