Poems into Poems with Joyce Sutphen

Joyce Sutphen

Joyce Sutphen's first collection of poems, Straight Out of View, won the Barnard New Women Poets Prize; Coming Back to the Body was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award, and Naming the Stars won a Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. In 2005, Red Dragonfly Press published Fourteen Sonnets in a letterpress edition. She is one of the co-editors of To Sing Along the Way, an award winning anthology of Minnesota women poets.

Her poetry has appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, Water~Stone Review, and in many anthologies, including Good Poems (edited by Garrison Keillor), POETRY 180 More (edited by Billy Collins) and She Walks in Beauty (edited by Carolyn Kennedy). Audio versions of poems have appeared on The Writer's Almanac (read by Garrison Keillor) and have been read by the poet on A Prairie Home Companion. Joyce Sutphen is also a Renaissance scholar and has published essays on Shakespeare's Sonnets. She grew up on a farm in Stearns County, Minnesota, and she teaches literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Her collection, After Words, is a "memoir in poems,"and was published in 2010; in March, 2012; House of Possibility, a letter press edition of poems, was published by Accordion Press, and in early 2013, Red Dragonfly Press published another new collection (After Words). She is the second Minnesota Poet Laureate, succeeding Robert Bly.

When I am asked how a new poem comes to me, I don't, of course, have one simple answer. New poems come from memory; they come from a desire to speak to an occasion; they come from the sound of language, the love of words, - but mostly, new poems come from other poems: poems known for decades, poems read on websites (Poetry Foundation, The Writer's Almanac, American Life in Poetry, and others), and poems that are minutes old, written in a classroom or writing group.

Some of the poems in my first book were written as a result of using this sort of prompt (poems read out loud) in writing group where busy poets gathered to write together. We decided that we never wanted to have "homework" for our meetings; we simply want to gather, enjoy each other's company, and perhaps go home with two or three (or four) new poems - depending on how much we talked in between. As a bonus, I was introduced to poems that became new favorites; I learned how to write quickly, without worrying about having a perfect draft, and I had the benefit of brief but immediate response from other writers.

This workshop will operate on a simple pattern: I will provide the "seed" poems, talking a little about why I love each one before I read them out loud, and after that we will all write for ten to fifteen minutes, stopping afterwards to read to each other, and then repeating the process again - and again. I expect everyone will leave the session with new poems and the sense that inspiration is always a page or two away.







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Call: 507-732-7616

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Crossings at Carnegie
320 East Ave
Zumbrota, MN 55992