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Sonneting: Poetry Class 

(In Person at Left Margin LIT) 

Date: Saturday, June 8 
Time: 9am-12pm
Instructor: David Roderick
Ages: Adult 
Genre: Poetry
Price: $125

Transported from Italy to England in the 16th century, the sonnet, or “little song,” is poetry’s most enduring form in English and American traditions. Most of us know the basic format: 14 lines, with an artful rhyme scheme, composed in iambic pentameter. A sonnet also typically contains a “volta,” or turn, somewhere after the halfway mark, which redirects the poem’s energy in a surprising, vital way.


Poet Ed Hirsch poses some interesting questions regarding the form: “How many times over the decades has [the sonnet] been pronounced dead and then somehow revitalized, deconstructed, and then constructed again, refashioned, remade? It darkens and then lightens again. It thinks on its feet.” Together we will explore these components of the sonnet and theorize why it’s been so portable and durable. 


We’ll begin by discussing the sonnet’s historical context. We’ll then track its development from past to present, spanning vastly different approaches from Shakespeare to Keats to Edna St. Vincent Millay to Terrance Hayes. During the last hour we’ll take a look at contemporary “deconstructed” versions of the form—how poets carry forward some of the sonnet’s key components while subverting others.


Students will leave this class with knowledge of the sonnet’s history, experience studying a variety of approaches, and depart with some writing exercises that will nudge them toward trying their own hand at the form.

About the Instructor:

David Roderick’s first book of poems, Blue Colonial, won the APR/Honickman Prize and was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2006. The Pitt Poetry Series published his second collection, The Americans, in 2014.


David’s writing has been awarded an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, the Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship, the James Boatwright III Prize from Shenandoah, the Julie Suk Award, and the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize. He has taught creative writing and literature classes at Stanford, the University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and most recently at the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he was an Associate Professor in Creative Writing.


Click here to learn more about David.


If you find that you can't take a class for which you registered, you may request a refund, less a $25 administrative fee, at least 48 hours prior to the start of the first class session. If a class doesn't reach its minimum enrollment, it will be cancelled, and all students will receive full refunds.

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