Hugo House Poetry Class
Fall 2017
with Judith Skillman


Generating Associative Verse
 
How can we, as poets, access our subconscious minds--the land of dream where all that bizarre “stuff” surfaces? What’s the difference between associative writing and language poetry? By reading Franz Wright, John Ashbery, David Kirby and other poets whose work jumps and leaps, we’ll explore the process of writing associatively. We will discuss poems, address prompts, and generate new work as sequences or stand-alone pieces to workshop and revise. This class will address the new non-linear poetry, which is as prolific as free verse, and includes strategies for enabling the reception and articulation of what is perhaps any poet's better half: his or her unconscious wishes and desires.
 
Generating Associative Verse
Syllabus: Fall 2017
 

Note: Each class session we will use about 45 minutes for discussion. The rest of the time will be utilized for generating new work as well and/or workshop of poems written during the previous week. All materials are provided by the instructor; supplementary materials will be recommended but not required.
 
Week 1: John Ashbery: Is understanding the booby prize? 
            Introductions, overview of course
            *Discussion of Ashbery poems and interview
            Prompt
            (brief) Workshop
 
Week 2: Paul Celan: Myth, archetypes, history: a vital stew
            *Discussion of Celan’s life and poems
            Prompt & workshop
            
Week 3: Eva Ström—Illness as a creative force
            *Discussion of Strom’s life and poems
            *Discussion of Cotterill’s theory of associative thinking
            Prompt & workshop
 
Week 4: Franz Wright: The Difficult Childhood—making lemonade from lemons
            *Discussion of Franz Wright’s work and life
            *Poems by Wright
            Prose poem as vehicles for associative writing
            Prompt & workshop
 
Week 5: Tomas Tranströmer: A psychologist plumbs the depths
            *Discussion of Tranströmer’s life and work; his slim canon
            *The role of music in an associative thought-life
            Prompt & workshop
 
Week 6: Sequences, looking ahead, + other poets as desired
            Blueprint for a series of associative works
           Workshop extant poems