Third Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival
The Third Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival took place January 24 - 28, 2007. The faculty were Mark Doty, Stephen Dunn, Dorianne Laux, Thomas Lux, Heather McHugh, Alan Shapiro, Quincy Troupe, and Ellen Bryant Voigt. Special guest poets were Jeffrey McDaniel and Patricia Smith who performed at the late night coffee house event.
Applications were evaluated by Sally Bliumis of Armonk, New York, who holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence and teaches at SUNY Purchase. Sally's poems have been published in The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry London, Rattapallax, and Nimrod. She was finalist for The Pablo Neruda Prize in 2002.
Advanced Poetry Workshops: were facilitated by Mark Doty, Stephen Dunn, Thomas Lux, Heather McHugh, Alan Shapiro, and Ellen Bryant Voigt.
Intermediate Poetry Workshops were facilitated by Dorianne Laux and Quincy Troupe.
FACULTY BIOS & WORKSHOP DESCRIPTIONS:
MARK DOTY is the author of seven books of poems, most recently School of the Arts (HarperCollins, 2005). His work has been honored by the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, and a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Writers Award. He has published three volumes of nonfiction prose, including Heaven's Coast, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. He lives in New York and in Houston, where he teaches at the University of Houston. A new prose volume, Dog Years, is forthcoming from HarperCollins in 2007.
Doty Workshop: A workshop is an opportunity to form an active, engaged community of writers and readers dedicated to bringing out the best in one another. We'll look closely at the poems of each participant, with an eye toward ways to strengthen them, but we'll also consider the possibilities they suggest for further writing, for extending the poem into the unknown. Along the way, we will examine some exemplary contemporary poems, and participants might also be prepared for a writing assignment or two. Participants should bring copies of two poems for distribution to the group.
STEPHEN DUNN was awarded the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection, Different Hours. Dunn's other books of poetry include Local Visitations (W.W. Norton & Co., 2003); Riffs & Reciprocities: Prose Pairs (1998), Loosestrife (1996), New and Selected Poems: 1974-1994 (1994), Landscape at the End of the Century (1991), and Between Angels (1989). A new collection, Everything Else in the World, will be published by Norton in 2006. His book of essays and memoirs, Walking Light, is available from BOA. Dunn's other honors include the Academy Award for Literature, the James Wright Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has taught poetry and held residencies at NYU, Columbia University, University of Washington, University of Michigan, and is Distinguished Professor of creative writing at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
Dunn Workshop: Revision workshop. Bring three previously written poems, thirteen copies of each. The most common kind of revision is essentially cosmetic – which involves suggesting this word instead of that word, and in general a paring down, a getting rid of excess. Yet that kind of revision only makes sense when the poem is almost finished. Most poems, in my experience, have more fundamental problems: errors of conception, poor decisions, a lack of formal alertness, etc. Those are the problems on which the workshop will focus. With luck, we'll move to more cosmetic revision. With great luck, we'll simply praise.
THOMAS LUX holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry and directs the McEver Visiting Writers Program at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. His books of poetry include The Cradle Place (Houghton Mifflin, 2004); The Street of Clocks (2001); New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995 (1997), a finalist for the 1998 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Blind Swimmer: Selected Early Poems: 1970-1975 (1996); and Split Horizon (1994), winner of the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award. His distinguished teaching career includes twenty-seven years on the writing faculty and Director of the MFA Program in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence. Lux has taught poetry writing at Emerson, Warren Wilson, and many other universities. He has been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry and has received three National Endowment for the Arts grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Lux Workshop: We will pay close attention, in minute detail, to all the elements that go into writing a poem. So we'll do word by word, line by line readings. Frost said that the primary way to get to the reader's heart and mind is through the reader's ear. The sound, the noise of a poem, demands our attention. We must be tough, honest and direct with each other's work and also be generous, thoughtful and never condescending or dismissive. A good workshop can do both. Bring in two or three poems, thirteen copies of each, for discussion.
HEATHER MCHUGH's first book, Dangers, won the Houghton Mifflin New Poetry Series publication prize. Her most recent collection of poems, Eyeshot, was published by Wesleyan in 2003. Glottal Stop: 101 Poems by Paul Celan, translated with her husband Nikolai Popov, was published in 2000 and won the 2001 Griffin International Poetry Prize. Also in 2000, her translation of Euripides' Cyclops was published by Oxford University Press. Her ten books of poetry, translation, and literary essays include Broken English: Poetry and Partiality (1999) and Hinge & Sign: Poems 1968-1993 (1994), which was a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Pollock/Harvard Book Review prize. Her translation of the poems of Jean Follain was published by Princeton in 1981. She's the Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington and often teaches summer residencies at the Warren Wilson low-residency MFA Program. McHugh has won fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, PEN (Voelcker Poetry Award), and the Lila Wallace Foundation. She was named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1999, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.
McHugh Workshop: Please bring to the first workshop thirteen copies of each of two original poems you would most like discussed. (At least one of those two—perhaps both—will be discussed: we read closely.) During our first meeting we'll apply to some samples of great English poetry (which I'll distribute) the same analytic attentions that we'll later apply to your own work. Our discussions will aim to be (like Philip Larkin's Rx for talking in bed) "not untrue and not unkind." We stress the strengths of each writer's enterprise and its attendant risks. My speciality is structural design: I'm interested in how you can showcase your literary strengths (which may, by the way, have little to do with the poem's paraphrase, however virtuous its thrust: Oscar Wilde was right to remind us "Most bad poets are sincere.") The chief function of revision is to disclose the poem's strengths to the poet. (The anagram for "creative writing" is "active rewriting"—and as Emerson puts it "The line of beauty is the line of perfect economy.") It's rare that anything must be added to a poem, and rarer still that nothing needs to be trimmed. This workshop should sharpen your instincts for the rhetorical arts (both figures of thought and figures of speech).
ALAN SHAPIRO is the author of eight books of poetry, including Tantalus in Love, Song and Dance, and The Dead Alive and Busy. He has won a Kingsley Tufts Award, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and many other honors. He has also written works of criticism, translation, and two memoirs, of which The Last Happy Occasion was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Shapiro Workshop: We will devote this workshop to wayward poems, poems you've been devoted to that somehow continue to refuse to shape up, poems that show no gratitude whatsoever for all the hard work you've done on their behalf. We will focus on technical matters, of course, but also on the harder to articulate emotional and intellectual qualities and intentions the poem is attempting to enact. Please bring three poems, thirteen copies, for discussion.
ELLEN BRYANT VOIGT has published six volumes of poetry—Claiming Kin (1976), The Forces of Plenty (1983), The Lotus Flowers (1987), Two Trees (1992), and Kyrie (1995), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Shadow of Heaven (2002), a finalist for the National Book Awards. She also co-edited an anthology of essays, Poets Teaching Poets: Self and the World, and collected her own essays on craft in The Flexible Lyric. For her poems, which have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New England Review, The Southern Review, and Slate, she has received the Emily Clark Balch Award, the Hanes Poetry Award, the Teasdale Award, three Pushcart Prizes, inclusion in Scribner's Best American Poetry, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. Voigt designed and directed the nation's first low-residency MFA Writing Program, at Goddard College, and she now teaches in its reincarnation at Warren Wilson College. She has also taught at numerous colleges and universities. A former Vermont State Poet, she has been inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers and named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Messenger: New and Selected Poems will appear in January 2007.
Voigt Workshop: I like to choose an underlying—and lifelong—craft topic as an overall stimulus/focus to the discussion. This not only levels the playing field but also provides a lens we are collectively peering through. This means, though: (1) it is imperative that I receive four pages of work from you in advance of the workshop (and please also bring thirteen copies for the group), and (2) we will probably discuss in the group only one poem, thoroughly, by each workshop member. I will also hope to see revision of that poem during the week, to have workshop members exchange revisions, and if time allows provide a response to the revision during workshop session.
DORIANNE LAUX's fourth book of poems, Facts about the Moon, was published by W.W. Norton in 2006. She is also author of three collections of poetry from BOA Editions, Awake (1990), introduced by Philip Levine, What We Carry (1994), finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Smoke (2000). She is co-author, with Kim Addonizio, of The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (W.W. Norton, 1997). Her work has appeared in the Best of the American Poetry Review, The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, and has been twice included in Best American Poetry. She has been awarded with a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Laux is Professor and Director in the University of Oregon's Creative Writing Program.
Laux Workshop: What makes a poem memorable? Dave Smith says it's "a sharp, memorable, confident use of language which releases feeling, and keeps releasing it with repeated readings." Naomi Shihab Nye says for her it is "love and care for elemental details, for chosen words and their simple arrangement on the page . . . and a way of ending that leaves a new resonance or a lit spark in the reader or listener's mind—that's part of it." This workshop/study group will consist of reading the work of established poets, creating new drafts, and working with already produced poems. I'll be using selections from The 2005 Pushcart Prize, XXIX. Bring a copy if you'd like, though I'll have copies for our use in class. We'll take a close look at these prize-winning poems to understand what makes them memorable. We will practice imitation as a striving toward writing our own unforgettable poems with daily in-class freewrites and take-home exercises. In addition, you will send me three poems in-progress in advance; bring thirteen copies of each with you.
QUINCY TROUPE, former Poet Laureate of California, is the author of seventeen books, including eight books of poetry. Coffee House Press published his new volume of poems, The Architecture of Language, in October 2006. Transcircularities: New and Selected Poems (Coffee House 2002), was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the ten best books of poetry published in 2002. Troupe, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego, has received two American Book Awards, and a 1991 Emmy for The Miles Davis Radio Project. He is co-author (with Miles Davis) of Miles: The Autobiography, and the author of Miles and Me, a memoir, soon to be a major motion picture, for which Troupe wrote the screenplay. Troupe has also authored two children's books: Take It To the Hoop Magic Johnson (Hyperion/Disney, 2000) and Little Stevie Wonder (Houghton Mifflin, 2005). Hallelujah, his third children's book, on the life of Ray Charles, will be published in 2007 by Hyperion/Disney. He is Editor of Black Renaissance Noire, a journal of academic writing, culture, literature, politics, music and the visual arts, published by the Africana Studies Program and the Institute of African American Affairs at New York University.
Troupe Workshop: The Architecture of Language will be a workshop that explores links between metaphor, linguistic music, and form. We will look at how language is structured, looking to the possibility of creating new American poetic forms through the imaginative use of improvisation, duende, magic, surprise, as in a great jazz solo. Please bring to the first session thirteen copies of your favorite poem written by a well-known poet to share with the class. Beyond this each workshop member should bring thirteen copies of three to four poems to be workshopped during the remaining class sessions.