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Sally Dawidoff: Poetry Workshop: Finding Your Subjects

Five Saturdays, Nov. 9-Dec. 14 (skip 11/30) 10:30 am-1 pm   CLOSED
$215 members/$245 others     Berkeley

Mary Oliver’s poetry focuses on the natural world. “Most of my poems,” said Langston Hughes, “are racial in theme and treatment.” Sharon Olds returns again and again to familial and romantic love. “My subject is War, and the pity of War,” wrote Wilfred Owen.

“We don’t choose our subjects,” says Sally Dawidoff. “But when you find what sparks, your poetry will light up.”

In this poetry workshop, you will hunt for new material. The class will discuss processes and strategies for finding subjects; in-class writing exercises will be designed to lead each writer into rich territory. “It’s quite an individual matter,” says Sally. “Someone once asked me if my students write like me; I was happy to say that they do not. I take my students as they are, and seek to help each one to develop as the unique poet he or she is.”

Once you find new material, says Sally, “We’ll talk about how to mine it for poetic treasure. I’ll address questions like: What’s the difference between the initiating subject and the true subject? After exploring a subject in writing, when do I move on? And what do you mean, ‘We don’t choose our subjects’?

“Stephen Dunn once said about writing, ‘You go to your room and you wait for something to happen.’ How does it happen? How do we know when the Muse will show up? It’s a mystery,” Sally says, “but we can prop open the door.”

Sally Dawidoff’s poems have appeared in Best New Poets, BOMB, Boston Review, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, and many other publications. She earned an MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts and has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and artists’ residency programs including Headlands Center for the Arts, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and The Writers Room/La Casa del Escritor. Pets I’ve Known, a song cycle she co-wrote with composer Jason Atkinson, was recorded by soprano Eileen Clark and guitarist Oren Fader. Sally has taught poetry workshops and classes at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, U.S. Military Academy (West Point), and elsewhere. She is a member of the Urban Range poetry collective: www.theurbanrange.com


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