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Are Your Writing About Your Mother Again? Formal Poetry to Tame the Demons of Obsession
Are Your Writing About Your Mother Again? Formal Poetry to Tame the Demons of Obsession

Instructor: Maria Nazos
Genre: Poetry
Level: Intermediate to seasoned writers
Length: Five-week course
Time: Tuesdays 6 to 8:30 p.m. CST. September 14, 21, 28, October 5, 12
Format: Zoom
Limit: 5 participants



Why do we return to themes and people in our poems? How can we make these obsessions work in our favor? Poetry has always been the language of urgency; formal devices, including the pantoum, are a powerful way to step out of our comfort zone and into our fevered frenzy. Throughout this class, we’ll ask ourselves: What happens on the page when we tame our hungers, urges, and thirsts through formal devices?  

In this five-week course, we’ll use formal poetry as a way to tame and set loose our obsessions. From the pantoum to the triolet to the sestina, we’ll inhabit a series of contained forms, then work against them. What happens when we test our subjects of obsession against formal constraints? What happens when we set them free? Throughout the class, we’ll unleash the demons of our preoccupations, then reign them back in. This course is primarily one of revision, so expect to revisit your work through the varying poetic lenses. We’ll have a fantastic time!

Before each Tuesday class, you’ll email poems to everyone and prepare comments for the workshop by Sunday, 5 pm CST. I’ll have readings, assignments, and prompts available for you before the workshop. These readings are optional, but I’d argue important, as we’ll spend the beginning of every class discussing at least a few of them. Each week, we’ll follow this pattern, except for our first class on Tuesday, Sept. 7 at 6 pm CST. For our first workshop, we’re writing…SURPRISE, PANTOUMS, so I have prep work for you. Before class, be on the lookout for my first email. Watch my instructional video, do the readings, attempt the form, or if it fails, break out of it, which I’ll explain more. Then, pick one of your poems - formal or bust-out - to send to the workshop group. I know that the pantoum is TOUGH, so keep an open mind, heart, and sense of humor. We’ll continue this course structure with a sestina, triolet, ghazal, and sonnet. During the final week of class, we’ll hold one-on-one, hour-long conferences so you can discuss your work, ambitions, and publishing goals.


Larksong is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are committed to supporting both the writers who come to us for instruction and the writers who come to us to teach. We keep our class fees low, offer free programming, and pay our instructors. Please consider supporting our mission by making a tax-deductible donation.