Teague | “Myriad-minded” Poems: Exploring Etymology and Sound

Alexandra Teague

CLASS FULL

Stephane Mallarme once said that “A poem is not made of ideas; it’s made of words.” More recently, poet Jericho Brown said, “If you put language first, then you can discover your ideas. But if you’re thinking about your ideas first, then you’re going to be at the mercy of the language you already know instead of one you can figure out.” In this workshop, we’ll work from the level of words—considering etymologies and sound and where they can lead us and drawing on ideas in James Longenbach’s wonderful essay “The Medium of the English Language.” How can exploring the history of individual words, their overlapping sounds, their rhythms, their connotations lead us deeper into meaningful and surprising poems?