Facebook Link Follow Us on Twitter

Daily craft sessions provide contexts for faculty and writers in residence to discuss diverse issues of craft, process, and inspiration, or to lead exercises exploring technique and imagination. They provide excellent opportunities for participants to engage with poets and writers other than their workshop leader.


Through this week of writing and community, I found out that I am a strong writer—that I can confidently and professionally offer my work and have it responded to positively. I also found out that the best impetus for my work is to be engaged and in conversation with other poets. Everything feeds the hand and eye, and certainly the heart. My time at Jupiter changed the way I write: I now am writing with my whole being.

—’13 participant

Participatory, informative, helpful.A total delight.

—’12 participant

Participants in the 2014 Institute will have the opportunity, in the spring, to sign up for the craft sessions that interest them the most. Here are the craft session offerings for the 2014 Institute:

Rare Forms/Rare Occasions
Barbara Guest writes, “The most important act of a poem is to reach further than the page so that we are aware of another aspect of the art.” In this craft session we will take a curious look into several strange forms/occasions, and what they teach us about the making of art, life, and the imagination. Writing prompts will be defined to unleash radical, responsive, elevated, and delimited writing. Some forms and occasions we might consider: Vows, toasts, eulogies, manifestos, tanka, renga, travelogue, georgics, eclogues, sonnets, aphorism, Yoruban proverb, blurbs, letters-to-the-editor, dystopian fictions, incipits, haiku, cento, epigraphs, epigrams, epistles, bulls, pensees, proofs, marginalia, interviews, Q&As, epic similes, heroic couplets, ghazals, monologues, choruses, indexes, lists, wisps, yawps, calls, trills, alexandrines, caesura, valentines, pilgrimage, song, aubade, canto, fable, parable, themes, airs, omens, professions, apostrophe, epithalamium, and others. (No known comfort with form or formal poetry necessary.)

Have I the Lip of the Flamingo: Dickinson and Catachresis
But do flamingos even have lips? And what could it mean to “pluck” at a partition? How can floods be served in bowls, or the heavens appear to be “stitched”? In this craft session, we’ll take a close look at the elegant mayhem afoot in a handful of Emily Dickinson’s poems, reading with a special emphasis on turns of phrase that fly against, and therefore expand, our sense of the possible. We’ll discuss the various kinds of catachresis, which may be broadly defined as the deliberate violation of a word’s standard usage for expressive ends, considering the ways in which this rhetorical figure appears to be central not only to Dickinson’s poetry, but to what we mean by poetry in general. We’ll experiment in class with enhancing our own writing’s complexity of meaning, verbal texture, and sense of surprise through a practice of lexical selection that brazenly, but not without principle, disrupts what’s standard. We’ll encourage ourselves to march against the grain of the routine in apparently illogical rather than merely logical steps, confident that le mot juste might be just right for prose, but more often than not, it’s the last thing we want for our poetry.

A Creative Guide to The Assassination of JFK and the Assassination of Poetry
The poet's job is to invent truth but what happens when your poem begins with misinformation. Using Henri Cartier-Bresson's idea of the Decisive Moment, this talk will be a nuts and bolts craft exploration about the invention and destruction of truth, as well as the construction of Imagination. The poet will force various connections between what happens during the creative process and what did or did not happen on November 22, 1963. Students will be challenged to leave their own private poetry Grassy Knolls once and for all.

You Might Ask the Question, "Who Is Speaking?"
A craft talk/Q&A concerning the territory where autobiography and bibliography meet.

We read, in part, to be lifted away from the daily. We want mystery, scope, relief from the weight of detail. Fiction provides a haven, sometimes even from itself. It can swerve, rupture, disburden. It can lift out and away. This lifting away reminds us of the pleasing elasticity of being we know to be true and forget. On certain pages of prose (poetry too) we are reminded to see more deeply, perhaps more widely, as though an aperture has been opened, as though time has been dilated and space. What emerges from the rupture might be wisdom, a confession of fear, a declaration of fury, or love. Love and fury and wisdom and fear have accumulated line by line: the rupture feels at once spontaneous and inevitable, an impulse that overwhelms intention. The rupture is larger than the story and yet contained by it and it can take your breath away. Recollection and premonition; accumulation and release. The rupture is not explanation but declaration: People require strengthening before the acts of life. (Grace Paley) I am in retirement from love. (William Gass) My questions for the time we have together will be: how do writers accomplish this feat? How might we invite it?

Anecdotes of the Jar: How to create a tiny universe in less than 10 lines
Do you ever wonder how a poet makes a perfect poem in less time than it takes most people to say hello? Well, us, too. In this craft session, we will explore some great short poems by H.D., Jack Spicer, Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Lucille Clifton, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, and James Schuyler and try to uncover how these poems become tiny universes and not just short poems waiting to be longer. We will write our own small poems, too, inspired by these poets and others, and sparked by some real life miniature objects and things. And in doing this work, we will discover the very nature of poetry itself, with its exquisite sound minimalism, pretty and small factories, with its imagery of our human wilderness caught in the tiniest of glass jars, over and over and over again.

Imitating Olympus
The poet Fernando Pessoa counsels: “…quietly imitate/Olympus in your heart.” In this craft session we will play with imitation, adaptation, queering, and ekphrasis through a series of brief generative exercises. We’ll practice, as well as discuss, techniques for using myths from world traditions (as well as fairy tales and fables) in our own writing, perhaps as structural underpinning, perhaps as inspiration, perhaps in some other way. While we will focus on prose, poets are welcome to come and change the exercises to suit their purposes.

Part poem, part nonfiction narrative, part song: a lyric essay lives on the borders. It talks to the poem in its fidelity to compression, sound, and image. It talks to the essay in its work of idiosyncratic meditation. What does it mean to test, to try? We'll look at some short examples of the form as a way into wondering about voice and structure. We'll also get started on a lyric essay inspired by the work in front of us.

Let The Dead Speak
Why mine the past for inspiration? Why animate the dead? Writers—often exceptionally innovative writers—have looked to history for inspiration. Why do it? What's the fun in writing about someone like Jim Jones or Montezuma, rather than creating a recognizable someone from a familiar present? If you have these kinds of questions, this is craft session that will indulge them. There will be a brief presentation followed by a Q & A.

The Glimmer Moment
In every really memorable short story or essay—and the two are much more similar than we often think—there's a moment where we experience that wonderful, piercing ache of realizing that what this piece is about…which is so rarely what we thought it was, even one sentence before. I call this the glimmer moment. In our talk we'll be looking at how we arrive at it—putting aside John L’Heureux’s instruction “to capture a moment after which nothing will ever be the same again” Is it an action that takes us there? Or an accrual of similar actions? Or linking together of multiple very different events? Is it memory or a reference to something outside the story? Is it a metaphor? Once we have some structural models, we look at how it’s revealed in language: told, shown, told and shown, hidden, hinted at, denied? Expect examples from Jayne Anne Phillips, Aimee Bender, Dorthe Nors, Shawn Vestal, and Claire Vaye Watkins.

Sonic Semantics
Ooo! You, too, can use sounds to clue readers into what you're doing! Don't dismiss the sonic devices—dive in and discover their draw. If you're interested in thinking about how sound makes meaning, and not simply in a lexical sense, how you can harness its power for your poems, join me for a session involving writing, reading, talking, and listening.

Reinvigorating Your Writing Practice
In this craft session we will go back to the basics: breath, senses, the body—where stories and poems are housed. Being attentive to your inner world and experience provides information that can be used to write deeply and distinctly. We grow our ability to respond as writers when we learn to take notice of the present moment. Mindfulness meditation and generative writing exercises will help you to awaken your writing and invigorate your practice.

This reminds me of this reminds me of that reminds me of you remind me of us
Two things writers have a habit of thinking and sometimes saying: this reminds me of and how did she get away with that. Not necessarily in combination, but sometimes. A while back someone said that the chance meeting on an operating table between a sewing machine and an umbrella reminded them of... something. When we meet we'll have a little over an hour to deal with what this reminds me of and other things remind us of and how our brains’ tendencies to do these things make us the writers we are and will be. 9 minute writing opportunity to remind us of what we're doing here. (adjacent items for consideration: associational generation, sound generation, sense generation, random generation, skipping steps, syntax's defining presence, the limits of direction, imagination's invigoration). Everyone welcome.

On Difficulty
A talk, including some discouraging remarks by Hugo Von Hoffmannsthal, author of “The Letter.”

Sentiment vs. Sentimentality
“A sentimentalist,” said Oscar Wilde, “is simply one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it.” The problem of unearned emotion is familiar to most makers of fiction and poetry. We don’t want to be accused of writing something maudlin, cheesy, clichéd, or tear-jerky, yet we may be so anxious to avoid sentimentality that we end up avoiding emotion altogether. How, then, can we move our readers? How can we probe and rouse human feeling? In this session, a mix of lecture, discussion, short readings, and in-class writing, we’ll negotiate the border between sentimentality and sentiment. Up for scrutiny: the coercive narrator, pathos vs. bathos, and Eliot’s objective correlative. A quick overview of the 18th century’s sentimental novel may help us understand sentimentality in its literary-historical context.