Punctuation: A Poet’s Dilemma

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When it comes to punctuating poems, opinions vary widely. Some poets are as careful and correct as T.S. Eliot, while others, like W.S. Merwin, have gotten rid of punctuation altogether. In this workshop we will discuss what traditional punctuation can achieve and whether syntax and line breaks can be used in its place. We will explore in depth the role played by the period and the comma, and we’ll take a look at some of the more unusual punctuation marks that poets have invented to suit their own purposes. By looking closely at a few poets who turned away from conventional punctuation, we will be able to judge for ourselves whether and how to punctuate our own poems.

LIVE VIDEO CONFERENCE: This workshop will be held via our online video conferencing platform, Zoom. The dates and times will remain the same. You can view brief tutorials on using the platform here. Shortly before the start date participants will recieve an email with login info. Please check your spam if you don’t see it.

About Sue Ellen Thompson

Sue Ellen Thompson is the author of five books of poetry, including This Body of SilkTheyThe Golden Hour, and The Leaving: New and Selected Poems, as well as other publications. She is also the editor of The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry. Her work has been included in the Best American Poetry series, read on NPR by Garrison Keillor, and featured in U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s nationally-syndicated newspaper column. She taught at Wesleyan University, Middlebury College, Binghamton University, and Central Connecticut State University before moving to the Eastern Shore in 2006. She was awarded the 2010 Maryland Author Prize from the Maryland Library Association. More about her at: sueellenthompson.com.

Teaching style: I am very serious about craft--what I can teach adult students that will help them write better poems. As a result, I tend to be very organized in my approach to teaching a workshop and averse to letting the discussion wander off-target. Many poets, even those with graduate degrees, lack formal education in areas such as metaphor, line breaks, revision, tone, syntax, and organizing a manuscript. My goal is to fill in the gaps and give poets the tools they need to writing moving, well-crafted poems.


21 seats available
Workshopnon-member price
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