Poetry Master Class

Course Description

Once you’ve written the first draft of a poem, what happens next? In this poetry workshop, we will study diverse examples of radical revision, ranging from Walt Whitman’s obsessive reconsiderations of Leaves of Grass to Elizabeth Bishop’s drafts of “One Art.” Additionally, we will expand the definition of revision to include alternative editing strategies culled from the likes of Frank O’Hara, Robert Hass, Lyn Hejinian, and Srikanth Reddy. We will actively use workshop participants’ poems as generators for new writing. As each drafting of a piece is an opportunity to rethink its destination, the class will forego mere tinkering in an effort to offer each work presented for workshop profound opportunities to transform its very strategies, meanings, and intentions. Deeply and generously inhabiting one another’s work, participants will be encouraged to offer inspired exercises that challenge one another’s visions. With an open mind, we will embrace all kinds of revision exercises, including chance operations, pointed research assignments, the investigation of outtakes and omissions, formal challenges, sonic dares, and all uppings of the poetic ante that kindle the reinvigoration of the creative act. We will write new work each week.


Fifteen poets hailing from Argentina, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Kenya, Burma/Myanmar, New Zealand, and the United States will participate in the master class. Participants were selected from among a large pool of highly-qualified applicants representing twenty-three countries.


Nick TWEMLOW is a poet and filmmaker from Topeka, Kansas and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 2013, his poetry collection Palm Trees (Green Lantern Press) received the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. In addition to writing poetry, Twemlow is an accomplished filmmaker and a 2011 recipient of a Princess Grace Honorarium in Filmmaking. His films have been shown at a number of festivals, including Tribeca, South by Southwest, and Slam Dance. He is currently a Senior Editor of The Iowa Review and a co-editor of Canarium Books, a small press publisher of contemporary poetry.

Happening Now

  • 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.

  • The poetic documentary Songs Still Sung: Voices from the Tsunami Shores, written and co-produced by Takako ARAI and creatively subtitled into English by a class of UI students of Japanese, will be screened at the prestigious Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, on-line 10/7-14/2021.

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