Powers of Syntax

Powers of Syntax

Experiment with the shape-shifting powers of syntax in your poetry

This workshop focuses on different types of sentence structure, generating – and stretching across – lines, stanzas, and fully realized poems. Syntax, the arrangement of words forming a sentence, is inseparable from what those words convey in correspondence with each other. Since a poem’s primary unit is the line, composing a poem elicits creative tension between lineation and sentence rhythm: this dynamic amplifies the forces the syntax has set in motion. In addition to fundamental sentence patterns, we will explore the fragment, if/then constructions, parallelism, and the rhetorical technique anaphora. Through several in-class writing exercises, we will experiment with the shape-shifting powers of syntax. A packet of touchstone poems (circulated in advance) will highlight syntactical strategies that offer us ways to subvert linearity, suspend time, increase expectation and surprise, and re-orient the reader’s experience.

One all-day workshop on Saturday 24 March 10:30am – 4:30pm.

More information about how all our face-to-face courses work can be found on the Face-to-Face courses page.

(Image: ‘ashley.adcox’)

About Phillis Levin View Profile

Phillis Levin is a poet, essayist, and editor. Her newest book, Mr. Memory & Other Poems (Penguin Books, 2016), was selected by Library Journal as one of the Top Picks in poetry for spring 2016 and was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry. She is the author of four other poetry collections, Temples and Fields (University of Georgia Press, 1988), The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995), Mercury (Penguin, 2001), and May Day (Penguin, 2008), and is the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English (2001). Her honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, a Fulbright Scholar Award to Slovenia, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, a Bogliasco Fellowship, and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Phillis has served as an editor of Boulevard and as an Elector of the American Poets Corner of The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. She has taught at the University of Maryland, the Johns Hopkins University, The Unterberg Poetry Center, New York University, and The New School, and currently is a professor of English and the poet-in-residence at Hofstra University. She lives with her husband in New York City.

This Poetry School workshop has helped me remember my love of language and all the wonderful things I could do with it. At a time of great personal difficulty, it has inspired me to carry on and be proud of seeing the world differently.

Summer 2017 Survey Response

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