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With a Voice Like That…Developing Voice and Persona in Poems with Adrian Matejka
Wednesday, May 3, 2017 @ 9:30 am
300 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33132 United States
Wednesday – Saturday, May 3 – 6 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
The poet’s ultimate representation on the page is the speaker. Sharon Olds sounds like “Sharon Olds” because of her language choice, syntax, and line breaks. Yusef Komunyakaa’s linguistic swing is identifiable in a room full of poets thanks to his unique understanding of assonance, consonance, and imagery. Fortunately, for those of us who write poetry, the “voice” of the poet isn’t always the same thing as the “voice” of the speaker in a poem. There is a natural, creative separation between the language used to order lunch and the language used to create a poem. That creative language and the ways it is constructed for poetry is the true “voice” of the poet. It is, in fact, a poetic persona. In this workshop we will study the work of poets with clear poetic personae or “voices” such as Olds, Komunyakaa, Elizabeth Bishop, and Frank O’Hara in order to develop a more effective poetic voice for ourselves. We will also look at a small sampling of persona poems and talk about the use of persona as a way to explore the mechanics of voice. The poems we read will serve as models for new poems we will generate together through a series of free- and directed-writing exercises. This workshop will be relaxed and supportive and ideal for beginning poets as well as more advanced writers who are interested in experimenting with voice and persona.
Adrian Matejka was born in Nuremberg, Germany and grew up in California and Indiana. He is a graduate of Indiana University and the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He is the author of The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003) which won the New York / New England Award, and Mixology (Penguin, 2009), a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series. Mixology was also a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. His most recent collection of poems, The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013), was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The Big Smoke was also a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and 2014 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. His new book, Map to the Stars, is forthcoming from Penguin in March 2017. Among Matejka’s other honors are the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, two grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Julia Peterkin Award, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and a Simon Fellowship from United States Artists. He teaches in the MFA program at Indiana University in Bloomington, and is currently working on a new collection of poems, Hearing Damage, and a graphic novel.