Both Fish and Fowl: The Prose Poem

with Anna Scotti

Both Fish and Fowl: The Prose Poem

July 17, 2024
8 Weeks

$545.00

Zoom calls Wednesdays 7-9pm Eastern

$545.00Enroll Now

In this generative eight-week workshop, we’ll discuss various prose poems, then write our own, in a warm and supportive environment conducive to creativity and artistic experimentation. We’ll refine and improve our work until each of us finishes the program with a minimum of two poems, ready to submit to journals for publication. Along the way, we’ll explore the work of modern masters including Amy Lowell, Amorak Huey, Richard Siken, Victoria Chang, and Vic Nogay, as well as course instructor Anna Scotti – and will use their work as inspiration to create and revise our own poetry.

If you have previously taken Both Fish and Fowl (or Anna Scotti’s other prose poem course, Deep Waters) before, note that the materials and prompts have been updated!

A successful prose poem is not at all unlike a good magic trick – the reader should be left slightly stunned, emotionally spent, and curious enough to go back and read the poem again and again. So what is a prose poem, exactly? Charles Simic defined it as “the monster child of two incompatible impulses,” one that wants to tell a story, and the other that wants to “freeze” an image so that we can look it over and think about it at length. Edward Kaplan, speaking of Baudelaire, said prose poems are “fables of modern life” in poetic form. I like to say prose poetry is a form that looks like prose, but hits like poetry.

In this workshop, we’ll define the prose poem as a short piece that has many of the characteristics of poetry – compactness, precision of diction, lyrical language, imagery, intensity of emotion, and perhaps even rhyme, meter, and repetition – but without the line breaks, or lineation, that make other poetic forms familiar.

Each week, we will meet on zoom to examine and discuss prose poems by various working poets and by fellow students. Participants will learn to identify poetic techniques hidden within the prose form, and will offer one another feedback using the “sandwich” model of “praise, criticism, praise.” But most of our time will be spent writing prose poems of our own – exulting in the rule that in the prose poem, there is no rule but excellence!

Learning and Writing Goals

Learning Goals:

By the end of this eight-week course, students will:

  • Be familiar with a variety of prose poems by authors including Amorak Huey, Richard Siken, Ellen June Wright, Gertrude Stein, Charles Simic, Charles Baudelaire, Karen Volkman, and course instructor Anna Scotti.
  • Have a strong sense of what the prose poem is …and isn’t.
  • Have a good understanding of the conventions of submitting work to a literary journal for publication.

Writing Goals:

By the end of this eight-week course, students will:

  • Have a minimum of two poems polished and ready to submit to journals for publication, or approaching readiness pending another edit or two!
  • Have new tools and techniques for writing, critiquing, and understanding feedback.

Zoom and Wet.Ink Schedule

Class will meet for two hours once a week on Wednesdays, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time, starting July 17th. Each session will include a brief craft discussion, followed by synchronous guided writing periods, working from prompts. We’ll read a bit, write a bit, share a bit, then write some more!

Students will be asked to submit one poem per week (either an original poem, or a revision of a previously submitted poem), using the Wet.Ink platform. Work should be submitted by 9 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday preceding our class meetings.

Students should plan to read and make comments on a minimum of two other students’ work each week, using Wet.Ink. Please read and make comments prior to our zoom meeting on Wednesdays. The instructor will also make comments on poems.

Weekly Syllabus

Week One: Introductions and overview

In this first meeting, we’ll get to know each other! After a quick round of introductions, we’ll discuss course requirements, and we’ll learn the “sandwich method” of giving constructive criticism.

We’ll read the prose poem Bath by Amy Lowell, focusing on Lowell’s gorgeous imagery and the simple language she chooses to create it, paying special attention to the circularity of the poem created by repeating an image from the first line, in the last. We’ll work from prompts during two short and one longer synchronous writing periods. Bath will be posted on Wet.Ink. It is not necessary to read it before class, though of course you may!

Homework: Please post a poem on Wet.Ink by Saturday evening. Please read and comment on the work of at least two other students before class on Wednesday.

Week Two: From the Prosaic to the Transcendent

We’ll examine Metonymy by Richard Siken. Our craft talk will include discussion of line breaks, metaphor, fragmentation, and imagery within Siken’s poem. We’ll also look at a short free-verse poem by the instructor, Onomatopoeia. How do these poets use a rather prosaic subject – grammar – for creative inspiration? We’ll work from prompts during two short and one longer synchronous writing periods. Siken’s and Scotti’s poems will be posted on Wet.Ink. It is not necessary to read it before class, although of course you may!

Homework: Please post a poem on Wet.Ink by Saturday evening. Please read and comment on the work of at least two other students before class on Wednesday.

Week Three: Like Powder from a Doughnut

This week, we’ll examine Obit by Victoria Chang. Then we’ll write from prompts during two short and one longer synchronous writing periods. Chang’s poem will be posted on Wet.Ink. It is not necessary to read it before class, although of course you may!

Homework: Please post a poem on Wet.Ink by Saturday evening. Please read and comment on the work of at least two other students before class on Wednesday.

Week Four: Worlds That Sing to You

Annie Lamott wrote, “What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfold world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.” This week, there’s no professional poem to deconstruct. Instead, we’ll have two intensive synchronous writing periods, punctuated by a discussion of student work.

Homework: Please post a poem on Wet.Ink by Saturday evening. Please read and comment on the work of at least two other students before class on Wednesday.

Week Five: Turn About Is Fair Play

I’ve read lots of your work! This week, we’ll read one of mine – Sheba. The poem will be posted on Wet.Ink, but students are also invited to listen to it here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/12/18/sheba We’ll discuss Sheba before writing together from a prompt inspired by self-reflection and thoughts about how others see us through various lenses.

Homework: Please post a poem on Wet.Ink by Saturday evening. Please read and comment on the work of at least two other students before class on Wednesday.

Week Six: Each Poem Is a Nation

We’ve been working together for six weeks! This week, we’ll read and discuss Anorak Huey’s Prayer for What I Do Not Want. After discussing the intersection between poetry that functions as memoir, and politically inspired work, we’ll write together, revising poems in progress or creating new work. We’ll share our work, then write synchronously again.

Homework: Please post a poem on Wet.Ink by Saturday evening. Please read and comment on the work of at least two other students before class on Wednesday. Note: This week, students will be asked to choose a poem of their own from those posted on Wet.Ink to read aloud at our last session. We’ll talk about this in class!

Week Seven: Beyond the Rainbow Bridge

The proverbial rainbow bridge may be a comforting metaphor when one loses a pet, but for many the love of animals goes beyond platitudes. This week we’ll discuss Vic Nogay’s when it snows as well as the instructor’s Harlequin. Then we’ll write together from several prompts. Nogay’s and Scotti’s poems will be posted on Wet.Ink. It is not necessary to read them before class, although of course you may!

Homework: Please post a poem on Wet.Ink by Saturday evening. Please read and comment on the work of at least two other students before class on Wednesday.

Week Eight: Let’s Go!

No published poem will be discussed in this final session. We will hear student work read aloud by the authors, followed by our usual intensive writing period. Students are invited to re-enroll in this workshop up to three times. Content and coursework will be adapted to the balance of new and returning students.

$545.00Enroll Now

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Student Feedback for Anna Scotti:

Anna was a very good instructor. She is generous with her time and energy in helping students to improve their writing. Anna’s prompts in class were very good and led to lines for new poems every week. She also offered real world experiences with literary magazines and publishing that I felt were very helpful. Jeffrey Shalom

Anna is an exceptional writing teacher who possesses a unique blend of warmth, understanding, and deep knowledge of the craft. Passionate about poetry and its transformation into prose, she is a kind and insightful mentor who leaves no stone unturned in helping students unlock their inner power as writers. 

With patience and expertise, Anna helped me edit my poems to their best versions. Her classes are fun, but you will work hard!

Anna shows you how to break a poem down to what she calls “the working parts-” and then she shows you how to use that as inspiration to write your own.

I learned so much working with Anna, and I’ve published four poems since our class together.

Anna is an exceptional writing teacher who possesses a unique blend of warmth, understanding, and deep knowledge of the craft. Passionate about poetry and its transformation into prose, she is a kind and insightful mentor who leaves no stone unturned in helping students unlock their inner power as writers. With her own successful writing career as a foundation, Anna’s guidance is invaluable. Anna’s expertise in the prose poem genre and her intuitive sense of how language and image work makes her an excellent choice for anyone who wants to improve their skills in this particular form. I wholeheartedly recommend Anna to anyone looking to grow as a writer.

July 17, 2024
8 Weeks

$545.00

Zoom calls Wednesdays 7-9pm Eastern

$545.00Enroll Now

anna scotti author headshot

About

Anna Scotti is the author of Bewildered by All This Broken Sky, a collection that was awarded the inaugural Lightscatter Poetry Prize in 2021. Ms. Scotti’s poems have been awarded the Pocotaligo Prize, the Fisher Prize, and many other prizes and honors, and have appeared in The New Yorker since 2016. She writes in various forms, but is especially noted for her prose poetry, which Ellen Bass called “suffused with beauty, pulsing with life,” and “miraculous.” Katharine Coles characterizes Ms. Scotti’s work as “wry and snappy, equal parts sorrow and bliss.” Also a celebrated young adult novelist and mystery writer, Ms. Scotti has guided many aspiring poets toward publication - and excellence. She believes in the power of poetry to transform, uplift, and inspire, and she knows that while inspiration is divine, most poetic excellence results from hard work, revision, and self-editing. Learn more at www.annakscotti.com.