Poetic Constructs deals with the nuts and bolts of writing poetry, and is applicable to other genres. From basic poetic concepts to current theories of Free Verse, this study track covers the gamut of poetic tools. The examination of the evolution of poetic forms and the historic roles of the poet are key to this track. The Chop Shop editorial sessions are designed to discipline the writer away from laziness towards their unique voice. With such common ground between us, we can then look at means for effective collaboration.

PC1 Idiot’s Guide to Poetic Concepts (Clint Locks)
PC1-1      Coffee & Prompts at Camp (Cicada Musselman)

PC2 Chop Shop Toolbox / Speak the Truth (Marcus If)
PC2-1      Chop Shop II: Syntax / Verb Vibrant (Marcus If)

PC3 Poetic Constructs I: Evolution of Forms (& Poets) (Marcus If)
PC3-1      Sonetto: Queen of Forms (Marcus If)
PC3-2      Flash Fiction (Nancy Stohlman)
PC3-3      Drunken Haiku (Marcus If)

PC4 Poetic Constructs II: Verse Libre!
PC4-1      Projective Verse Intensive (Marcus If)
PC4-2      Post-Millennial Poetics
PC4-3      Mimetic Experiments (Eric Fischman)
PC4-4      Confessional Poetics (Forrest Lotterhos & Ellie Swensson)
PC4-5      Political Poetry (Matt Clifford)
PC4-6      With Great Power (Eric Fischman)
PC4-7      Women’s Voices  (Pamela Twining)
PC4-8      Celebrating Place  (Andy Clausen)
PC4-9      Rewriting the Love Poem  (Eric Fischman)
PC4-10    Workshop  (Jack Collom)

PC5 The Art of Collaboration (Marcus If)

PC6 The Art of Storytelling  (Cooper Braun-Enos & Rachael Ann Harding)

Course Descriptions:

PC1 Idiots Guide to Poetic Concepts         (Clint Locks)
Basic concepts such as rhythm and metaphor are the cornerstones of poetry, and this workshop gets in some practice, jumping around from usable tools such as assonance and enjambment, to more theoretical ideas akin to allegory and occultalalia. The exercise of each concept will be the primary writing task, with time to combine several into a poem at the end. Designed for novice and apprentice level poets, this course is suitable for writers from any genre.

PC1-1 Coffee & Prompts          (Cicada Musselman)
Early riser? Like to write while the rest of camp is asleep or fitting in the morning bowl? Cicada, your Morning Activities Counselor, will be leading a variety of easy going, no-to-low discussion, morning writing activities. Expect a short walk or two around the Shovel property, mini-lessons, collaborative quatrains, model poems, guided journaling, brief meditation, fishbowl prompts, short readings on poetic concepts, and MORE! These will be scheduled for practically every morning of camp, so wake up early to fit in as much writing as you can!

PC2 Chop Shop Toolbox / Speak the Truth          (Marcus If)
This workshop will discuss the process of writing and some of the psychological tricks we use to create and polish it. Psychological processes in intentional and stream-of-consciousness writing, recognizing therapeutic aspects vs creative content, the value of Placeholder words and contemplative editing, the use of scalpels & the notorious S.A.W. will all be covered and practiced.

PC2-1 Chop Shop Two: Verb Vibrant          (Marcus If)
In this workshop we examine the use of syntax to establish poetic lines that demand attention not by their content but by their artifice. Central to this endeavor is the elevation of the Verb to its highest potential as the Subject of the Line. We will discuss the syntax of poets such as Shakespeare, Cummings, and Olson, examine the use of Verb Songs, and practice line reconstruction. There will be a brief review of the Chop Shop Toolbox. Writing exercises will have syntax “kicked around anew” (as Olson put it) while focusing on the uses of verb.

PC3 Lecture: Evolution of Forms (& Poets)          (Marcus If)
From the first magickal syntax of shamans to the contemporary 140 character ‘Tweet’ poem, Poetry has served a number of purposes that prose cannot. This lecture broadly examines the role of the poet throughout major historical periods, and how the forms of poetry evolved alongside the changing uses of a poet. A final discussion will revolve around the various contemporary roles of the poet and what we represent to culture during the Industrial Age Collapse.

PC3-1 Sonetto: Queen of Forms          (Marcus If)
For nearly 800 years the Sonnet has been the most recognized poetic form in the West, if not the entire world. She literally began the Renaissance at the intellectual court of the Holy Roman ‘Antichrist’, became a critical part of Italian history, and when 300 years later Britain was ready to emerge from her feudal repressions, the sonnet erupted into English and defined the poetics of the Elizabethan era under Spenser and Shakespeare. When Verse Libre first took hold in the 1880’s, it looked like the potential end of her reign, but Queen Sonetto has surprised us with her importance in Post-Millennial Poetic Tradition. We will discuss the philosophy, form, structures, and history of the sonnet. And poems shall be writ!

PC3-2 Writing Flash Fiction          (Nancy Stohlman)
Flash fiction is redefining how we tell stories. By embracing the compressed form, all writers–from poets to novelists–are cultivating a new set of skills and creating an entirely new kind of story. In this 2-hour workshop we will generate original flash pieces and examine what makes successful flash fiction. This workshop is open to writers with all levels of experience in the form.

Sculpting Flash Fiction                (Nancy Stohlman)
Editing is the most important part of the writing process. As serious writers, you know it’s through the editing process that we begin to refine and sculpt our messages.  But just as writing flash fiction requires a different set of skills, so does editing flash fiction.   In this workshop we will use the tools of ambiguity and implication; we will learn the difference between chipping and chopping; we will learn how to shrink-wrap text. You will learn how to achieve the specific needs of flash fiction as I guide you and other participants to edit your real works in progress.  Participants should have a basic understanding of flash fiction and come to the class with flash pieces already in progress. Nancy will be teaching her Intro to Flash Fiction during the Boulder Writers Warehouse Intro to BAFS Weekend on Saturday, July 1st from 2pm-5pm.

PC3-3 Drunken Haiku          (Marcus If)
This experiential workshop takes the form of a light-hearted competition. It’s objective is to encourage participants to notice the effects of intoxicants on their writing over the progress of an evening. Is there a point where intoxication is useful? Is there a point where over-intoxication becomes inhibitory? What happens in between? The premise: take a shot of whiskey and write a haiku. Everyone reads and votes on the “most-well liked” for that round. The ‘winner’ chooses the theme for the next round. Do it again. Discussion & examination of process is of course the primary goal. Nine rounds is the current record of coherence…

PC4 Lecture: Verse Libre! & Beyond!          (Marcus If)
An historic overview of the theories of various poetic ‘movements’ after the declaration of Verse Libre. From the early Surrealists & Dadaists, the Imagists under the influence of Pound, the pastoral Gregorians, to Objectivists & Language School, New Criticism vying against Black Mountain, Harlem Renaissance & later New York School, the Post-Moderns and the Beats, all have left a century-long legacy on what we now know as Free Verse.

PC4-1 Projective Verse Intensive          (Marcus If)
An in-depth look at this seminal essay by Charles Olson, former rector at Black Mountain College and one of the primary poetic theorists of the Post-Modern Generation. We will discuss Open Verse, Composition by Field, Object-ism, Image as Vector, and the importance of the Line & Breath. Additional commentary from Pound, WCW, Creeley, & Duncan will be included. For best results, attendees should have read Olson’s essay Projective Verse at least twice recently. Writing prompts will focus on Objects in the Field of composition.

PC4-5 Political Party!!: When Doves Fuck          (Matt Clifford)
What is a political poem? How is an effective one written? What place do poets hold inside and outside of the political spectrum? As writers? As communal agents? How political is the personal? Is there an objective bodypolitik? Can it be communicated? How much should we care? Donald Trump? Hillary Clinton?? What the hell is a radical? In this course, we will look at a spectrum of thus-labeled political poems, from the name-naming direct challenges to the abstract subversions, from the sad to the angry to the arm-calling to the substantial, examining their techniques and discussing the social results and applications. And we will write – to speak the world or bomb trying. Aren’t poets just a bunch of anarchists? Soapboxes provided.

Political Party!! Part 2: When Hawks Fuck       (Matt Clifford)
Last year, in our foreplay class “When Doves Fuck,” we read poems crowdselected as political.  Included: Baraka, Merwin, Hopkins, June Jordan, and Lawrence Joseph. Since then the screw screwed harder. In the dark of these new electoral developments, we will look back at the same poems and the conclusions we drew on them to see if/how their classification or impact as political was affected. An examination of what is inherent and what contextual in political poetry. The lowerbrow class will also write speeches to elect a new class president, replacing Will’s Swedish usurpation of literary complex promises. Please note, this class is the day after the teacher’s band’s annual Saturday night performance, so expect heavy student participation as the schoolmaster frowns against calling in hungover and showing movies.

PC4-6 With Great Power          (Eric Fischman)
In this class, we will examine some of the tools and techniques unique to poetry for their mutant DNA and metahuman corrolaries, and reverse-engineer new techniques from existing superpowers. Our poems will become heroes (and villains), manifesting love interests and mortal enemies alike while trying to finish out high school in their Aunt May’s Queens NY apartment. Finally, we will collaborate old school Marvel Team-up style and, by your powers combined, defeat the forces of stagnation and make the world once more safe for poetry! Bring your ruby quartz visor, Eye of Agamatto, vibranium suit, power ring. Don’t forget your utility belt.

PC4-7 Women’s Voices                (Pamela Twining)
How many famous Women Poets can you name off the top of your head? Sappho, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath… maybe Rukeyser? HD? Audre Lorde? Coming up a young person who loved and wrote poetry, women poets were hard to find until the time of the Beat Generation. Though most of the best known Beat poets are also men, women began to come into their own, as authors and poets and artists, not known only as consorts or girlfriends or wives.
We will look at the poems of some who “made it” in the mostly male world of jazz poetry, as well as a few who crashed and burned. Hetty Jones, Diane DiPrima, Anne Waldman, Janine Pommy Vega, Lenore Kandel, Elise Cowan; we will listen to their voices and riff off of the inspiration provided by their lives and work. Writing as if you’ve never been heard before. We will Inspire each other.

PC4-8 Celebrating Place                (Andy Clausen)
Verse that illuminates and describes place ~ from rented room to hometown, from grotto to city to sacred valley ~ from the notebook or laptop on the train or bus to the familiar desk where memory is invoked, we will survey the approaches to making exciting and attractive verse. We’ll discuss classic poems of place by Leopold Senghor, Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whitman, Janine Pommy Vega, Gregory Corso, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Wanda Coleman, Andy Clausen et al.
Adjectives as paintbrush & chisel strokes ~ the relationship between profundity & humor ~ show, not tell. Be prepared to write, after which we will decide what we think works and fix what doesn’t. We will read our work aloud and critique delivery. At the end of the class/session, we should have work that will transport our audience. Work that will “take them there”.

PC4-9 Rewriting the Love Poem                (Eric Fischman)
In this class, we will investigate love poems both formal and informal, ancient and contemporary, and attempt to identify and define the love poem as a genre. We will write love poems to each other and to ourselves, to and from people long dead and inanimate objects, and utilize structures ranging from the traditional ballad to the shopping list to the fiery, projective rant. Finally, having illuminated nearly every dark corner of the love poem that we can find, we will attempt to subvert our own understanding, break every rule we’ve concocted for the genre, and see if it doesn’t come out as a love poem anyway.

PC4-10 Workshop                (Jack Collom)

PC5 The Art of Collaboration          (Marcus If)
Many poets are familiar with the Exquisite Corpse form, which illustrates the often haphazard nature of collaboration. In this workshop we examine and practice the tools that we need to create intentional collaborative pieces. To accomplish this, we must learn to recognize the patterns taking place and work from collaborative construction as well as mutual content. We will practice trading lines in stand-alone quatrains, leaving lines open-ended, and using self-referential syntax.

PC6 The Art of Storytelling          (Rachael Ann Harding and Cooper  Braun-Enos)
Storytelling is an overused word these days. While almost any discipline (writing, poetry, advertising) can be called storytelling, Cooper Braun and Rachel Ann Harding stand on stage and TELL stories. Have you heard of the Moth? Have you wanted to improve your public speaking? Have you wanted to better your reading, writing, or comedy? Join us for an introduction to storytelling and see how it differs from writing, performance reading, theater, and comedy.