Fingerprints: How to Use Form, Structure, and Syntax in Poetry

Saturday, June 19th, 10:30am-1:30pm (EST)
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
12 seats max
Only 3 spots left!

In poetry everything is permitted.
With only this condition of course,                                                        
You have to improve on the blank page.
- Nicanor Parra

It’s the poet’s obligation to (at least partially) fill the blank page. But like Parra says, we must also improve upon it. This can be an imposing task. Structure and syntax are like fingerprints, they’re unique to each writer. We can read an unattributed line by Walt Whitman or Emily
Dickinson and immediately recognize the identity of the author. In this course, we’ll consider how structure and syntax help your writing stand out as idiomatic. We’ll do so by reading poems
in fixed, free, and experimental forms. We’ll work together to shape your writing, and help you think about how to use form in your work. Our reading for the class includes: Tommy Pico, Emily Dickinson, Diane Seuss, Eileen Myles, Walt Whitman, Heather McHugh, and Robert Pinsky.

Part of the Poetry Focus Series taught by Derek JG Williams! Check out these other classes in the series: 

This class will be hosted using live Zoom meetings! You will be able to participate in class via Zoom videoconference from wherever you’re most comfortable. All you’ll need is a laptop or a phone! About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting via Zoom–no need to download anything or sign up for Zoom in advance! If you have questions about remote learning, please feel free to reach out to [email protected] for more information.

For a glimpse at how remote learning works, look no further than the deep Zoom discussion of writing and literature below:

Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

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Derek JG Williams
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  • Class Discussion
  • In-Class Reading
  • Lecture
  • In-Class Writing
  • Get Feedback
  • Generate New Work


  • Poetry

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