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Fusion & Fissure: Experimenting with Form In Poetry

Kenneth Burke states that the notion of “appetite” involves expectations and cravings, which can be understood in the context of form: “Form in literature is an arousing and fulfillment of desires. A work has form in so far as one part of it leads a reader to anticipate another part, to be gratified by the sequence.” But what if you want to interrupt that sense of expectation in a poem and invent something new, or what if the poem demands a deviation? What does it mean to skillfully break form, or, as Harold Bloom says, “swerve away” from our literary predecessors? I find breaking and making new forms to be an exciting, fresh enterprise leading to revelation and most importantly surprise, because, as we know from Robert Frost, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” We will experiment blending and diverging from both received and experimental forms in hopes of starting new drafts out of our comfort zones. Come ready to play and slay the page! 

About the Instructor: 

Tiana Clark is the author of Equilibrium, selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. She is the winner of the 2017 Furious Flower’s Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize, 2016 Academy of American Poets University Prize, and 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from the New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2015, Crab Orchard Review, Muzzle Magazine, Thrush, The Journal, and elsewhere. She recently graduated from Vanderbilt’s M.F.A. program where she served as the poetry editor of the Nashville Review. In the fall, she will serve as the 2017-2018 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. Find her online at