Tell, don't show, with multiloquent new work
Typically, the principle of ‘Show, don’t tell’ is sound advice for writers—we should aim to evoke and enact emotion, to surprise through imagery and sensory detail. We shouldn’t explain or attempt too obviously to guide a reader’s interpretation. In this class, though, we will investigate how we might use ‘telling’ in beautiful and unexpected ways. We will examine modes and moods of ‘telling’, like the discursive, the meditative, the conversational or talky. And we will look at particular forms of ‘telling’ such as the aphorism, the paradox, the subverted cliché, and other weird abstract statements that are more difficult to categorize but that in some way fall into the pithy or the witty. We will start with poems that rely mostly on ‘telling’ and then move to poems that combine ‘telling’ with the concrete in startling ways. Poets under discussion will include Antonio Porchia (translated by WS Merwin), Mary Ruefle, Lucille Clifton, CP Cavafy, Eduardo C. Corral, Louise Glück, Solmaz Sharif, and others. By the end of the course, you will gain a deeper understanding of how to tell, alongside show, and you will have five polished poems ready to send out.
5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.
More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.
(Image credit: ‘Marc Wathieu’)
About Chen Chen View Profile
Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), which was longlisted for the National Book Award for Poetry and won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, the GLCA New Writers Award, and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. The collection was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and named one of the best of 2017 by The Brooklyn Rail, Entropy, Library Journal, and others. His work has appeared in many publications, including Poetry Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The Poetry Review, Oxford Poetry, The Best American Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He is the 2018-2020 Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University.
‘The Poetry School keeps me writing poetry. It is a life-changing for this reason.’