What to Expect When You’re Expecting (A Poetry Workshop)

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (A Poetry Workshop)

Howdy, there, y'all. After seeing some wild horses out in Washington last week, I have decided to rebrand as a cowboy. I have gone the yee-haw way. (Just kidding. Unless... no.)

My kind of cowboy. 

Anyway, I am back in Iowa, feeling refreshed and ready to resume poem-ing. And more importantly, preparing to help you do some poem-ing in a couple weeks.

As I mentioned last week, I will be holding a Nature Poetry and Broadside Printing workshop soon, on August 28th (register here!). So I want to take some time to talk a little bit about what that workshop will entail. And since it is a 2-part workshop, I am going to talk about it in 2 parts. Everyone loves a good sequel nowadays anyway. So today, I am going to talk about the writing side of things, next week I'll elaborate on the printmaking component. I'm going to try not to over-explain (I'll save that for the day of the workshop), but I figure a little sneak peek might be nice.

So What Is Nature Poetry?  

Maybe you were wondering this, maybe not. I suppose it is pretty straight-forward, on its face at least. It is poetry about nature. Pretty words about trees and all that. It absolutely can be that, but there can also be a little more to it.

As a lifelong poet and occasional teacher of it, I understand that poetry, and writing in general, intimidates people. I've heard all the complaints and questions. What the heck is that Wordsworth guy talking about? How can I make that kind of stuff up? It's all so confusing. What's a metaphor anyway?

As someone who primarily got into poetry as a kid because I wanted to write Metallica songs, I sympathize with a lot of that confusion. Poetry is really dang weird. You're telling me this tree is actually a symbol of lingering grief? What?!??

A tree can be a symbol of lingering grief, or of warm childhood memories, or it can be one half of a simile comparing it to that rust spot on your car that makes you regret not getting as many car washes over the years (you know the one). Or it can be a tree! That is fine too!

I think a lot of people get hung up on what poetry is supposed to mean. And hey, I'm a nerd, I'll dissect a poem for its "meaning" all day long. But, you don't have to do that if you don't want to. To me, poetry is much more about what you feel, rather than what you think. So, by extension, my definition of nature poetry is about how nature makes you feel. The smallness you might feel beside an old oak. The amazement you might feel from a blufftop looking down. Essentially, if you have ever Felt a Feeling while outside, you have what it takes to write nature poetry. And if you haven't, don't worry. There will be guided exercises within the workshop where I will try to help you tap into those feelings. I understand this might all sound a little soppy and sentimental and touchy-feely, but hey, we could all use some of that in our lives, in my opinion.

So hopefully any potential poetry fears have been pushed away for you. I hope you will be able to come indulge yourself in some feelings on August 28th. And stay tuned next Monday for more on how we will be visually presenting those feelings.

And last, but not least, a snippet of a poem about my nature feelings.

Shattered wood fibers reach out/ A dozen sharp fingers failing to reach/ each other/ I bend towards crystallized summer nights/ stubby hands too sweaty to hold/ fail to find a fallen branch/ to steady the legs beneath/ perhaps things should be unsteady