Less is More: Letting the Poem Come to the Fore

This fall, Tina Cane will be teaching Less is More: Letting the Poem Come to the Fore. We asked Tina to share with us some of her writing background and how she plans to approach the class. Here’s what she has to say:

The governing idea for Less is More grew from my interest in the distillation process in writing. Like many writers, I grapple with reining in a piece without constraining it, with the idea of the poem I am writing versus the actual poem I am writing. I know there are many writers out there who, like me, wish to do more of less in their writing and to greater effect. Doing this alongside others will, I think, be instructive and galvanizing.

In contrast to some poets writing today, I have not taken part in many workshops. I attended a five-day institute years ago and took a short-story writing class, as an undergraduate. Most of my writing life has been a very solitary endeavor and any formation as a writer really came from reading (and walking) over the years. I have the impression that I am always still forming, certainly still–hopefully always–learning.

I would love to have met Walt Whitman–on a train, say. He and Hart Crane were the first poets I remember being made aware of. My dad loved Whitman and since my dad was the kind of person who spoke about Whitman as if he knew him, I have always felt a little like I could have. That’s what it can be like to read a poet’s work you love. I don’t know if I have a single favorite poet, but I pick up Whitman, perhaps, the most. And Lisa Jarnot.

Writers taking Tina’s course will look at the minimal poems of Aram Saroyam, the Japanese form haiku, the work of Black Mountain poet Gary Snyder, Robert Creeley, Lorine Niedecker and others. (Robert Creeley–did you know he used to write in Providence–on Arnold Street? Check out this interesting interview with him.)

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