PSSC and Emrys host poetry workshop with Gil Allen

  • Saturday, March 12, 2016
  • 10:00am to 12:00pm
  • Coldwell Banker Caine, 111 Williams St., Greenville

Five Enabling Thoughts about Writing Poems

Talent, by definition, is that which cannot be taught. If not invisible, it tends to be difficult to appraise until it’s developed to some degree. Poets develop their talent mainly through attentive reading and frequent practice over a long period of time. This process involves discovering what I’ll call “enabling thoughts”: ways of approaching writing that can help a poet produce his or her best work with greater frequency and more confidence. I’ll spend the first half of this seminar discussing five ETs I’ve found particularly helpful over the years. After a short break, I’ll ask participants to share some of their own “enabling thoughts”—as well as anything they’ve found particularly vexing about the writing process.

1. Titles and epigraphs are often important and sometimes essential.

2. Metaphors are at or near the imaginative center of many poems.

3. Consider absences, not just presences, as you write and revise.

4. Form can be your friend.

5. A poem can begin anywhere and go anyplace—as long as it generates its own ordering principles (however mysterious) along the way.

Gilbert Allen lives with his wife, Barbara, at the base of Paris Mountain. He is the author of six collections of poems: In Everything, Second Chances, Commandments at Eleven, Driving to Distraction, Body Parts, and Catma. His work has received The Robert Penn Warren Prize from The Southern Review and has been featured on The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and Your Daily Poem. For twenty-five years, he served as editor of the Ninety-Six Press, and he was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors in 2014. A longtime member of both the Emrys Foundation and the Poetry Society of South Carolina, he is the Bennette E. Geer Professor of Literature Emeritus at Furman University.