Virtual Poetry Seminar

Course Description

"The world is a mist," writes Elizabeth Bishop, "And then the world is / minute and vast and clear." In this poetry course we will examine the world in its simultaneous mist and clarity. We will embrace poetry's embrace of the contradictory, the mysterious, the shifting, the irrational. We will read modern and contemporary poems that convey complex experience through a wide range of formal strategies, discovering and discussing the different modes of thought that poems' differing modalities inspire. Readings will include poems from Francis Ponge, Gertrude Stein, Elizabeth Bishop, Michael Palmer, among others. Weekly writing exercises will be designed to broaden the scope of each student's poetry and to generate vivid new work through formal, rhythmic, and imagistic discovery. Students will receive regular feedback on their writing.


Fifteen poets hailing from Canada, China, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and the United States took part in the seminar. Participants were selected from among a pool of nearly 150 applicants representing twenty-eight countries.



Margaret ROSS is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Boston Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Iowa Review, and Volt. She has taught poetry courses at the University of Iowa as a third-year teaching fellow and most recently at Cornell College.

Happening Now

  • To mark PEN International’s centennial, Words Without Borders has published a sampler of works by writers committed to freedom of expression. Algerian novelist and scholar Med MAGANI is among them.

  • A fall harvest of book reviews coming in: of The Others by Sarah BLAU (translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir); of LO Yi-Chin’s Farewell, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy TIANG; of Véronique TADJO’s In the Company of Men

  • A fascinating interview with IWP’s Senior Advisor, professor Peter Nazareth, retired from UI’s English Department in spring 2021, after nearly five decades of teaching.

  • Word reaches us that poet HU Xudong  胡续冬, who also taught comparative and world literatures at Peking University (Beida), specializing in Latin American literatures, passed away unexpectedly. RIP, Hu Xudong…

  • We note with sadness the passing of Hiroshi SAKAGAMI 坂上 弘, whose long novelistic career garnered him major literary and cultural honors. A former president of the Japan Writers’ Association, he was until his retirement also the director of Keio University Press.

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