The Billy Collins Weekend – Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd January – will be a Reading for Writing class, where we’ll look exclusively at Billy Collins poems. As well as the usual close reading and writing exercises, we’ll be looking at the place he occupies in American poetry and thinking about the two big Billy Collins meta-questions – what makes him so popular, and is he a good poet? It should be a lot of fun, and should be suitable for a pretty wide range of abilities.
The second class – February 4th and 5th – is a bit higher level. We’ll be looking at how poems end, both at the level of the line (i.e. why do we break lines, what alternatives are there, and what effect do they have?) and of the poem itself. It will be pretty strongly influenced by James Longenbach’s The Art of the Poetic Line and Barbara Smith’s Poetic Closure – not that anyone else needs to have read them: just a warning of where most of my ideas will be coming from, in case you do know their work and disagree with them. (In which case it should make for a very interesting class indeed!) I haven’t decided yet whether to ask participants to submit poems for this one – case studies are useful, but I’m aware there was some disappointment after my editing masterclass on the part of people whose poems weren’t examined. We’ll see.
Both classes are being held over weekends, starting at 10.30 am and finishing at 1.30 pm, Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $40 each, and there’s a limit of 18 places. Technically the cutoff for enrollment is Christmas Eve, although in practice I’ll probably accept latecomers as long as I get my minimum number signed up before I have to finally confirm the room. (So, in other words, if you’re interested, sign up asap!)
The venue for both is the Fitzgerald Room in the brand new Lincoln Event Centre. Yes, I know some of you are going ‘Lincoln? Way out there in the middle of nowhere?’. In which case I can only assume you haven’t been to Lincoln very recently. From the centre of Christchurch it takes me barely 30 minutes to drive. (More like 15 to 20 minutes, if you come from the western suburbs). The Selwyn Star bus (route #81) runs every half hour on Saturday and every hour on Sundays. Hop off at the pub, turn north, and walk two blocks. Get in early and have a coffee or something to eat at Coffee Culture or Hillyers (seriously yummy pies!). It truly is easier to get to than most locations around Christchurch. Then there’s the peace and quiet …
The official Summer Class Info page (complete with a contact form for those of you who want to put your names down) is here.