First Meeting of "Imitation: From Faux to Freedom"


Four Sessions: July 7, 10, 14, and 17
6:00 to 8:00 pm
Tuition: $120 + $5 course material fee

In this generative poetry class, we will experience the paradox of imitation: by suppressing originality, we will circumvent our limiting habits and create something fresh and surprising to ourselves. Guided by numerous models, from classical to contemporary, we will explore many varieties of mimicry: reference, pattern, replication, sample, splice, collage, camouflage, cloak, clone, chameleon, parasite. And we will test the Renaissance theorists’ idea that the secret of good writing is in learning what the masters have done, because the masters uncovered what nature is. Since the Romantic era, prevalent among artists has been the primacy of turning inward, toward one’s nature, for inspiration and truth—a valid journey indeed, but it isn’t the only journey. Possible, also, is that one’s nature can be most clearly experienced in various external manifestations. In any case, this course is intended to empower you to try things you would not normally try, and that “permission” will come from the tradition itself. Poems by Wallace Stevens, Robin Robertson, Yannis Ritsos, Christopher Merrill, Gwendolyn Brooks, Terrance Hayes and many others will be studied. Class time will be given to writing, philosophical inquiry, discussion, and optional sharing of work. The instructor will be available during office hours for individual conferences and critiques.