First meeting of "Poetry Goes for a Hike" with Burk and Magrane

The hike is followed by a workshop on Wednesday, November 17, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Writing poetry is often thought of as a solitary inside pursuit. In this class, however, we’ll turn that on its heels and explore how the trail is a great place for poetry. Throughout the morning, we’ll find out how the physical act of moving through a desert environment may take shape on the page. Does one’s breath and stride affect the rhythm or line-length of the poem that comes? How does the energy expended through hiking take shape in language?

We’ll balance stretches of movement with time to sit and write. We’ll come to a rhythm where we’ll hike for about fifteen to twenty minutes, then stop and write for about fifteen to twenty minutes (with some variations of rhythm thrown in, of course!). Wendy and I will offer a number of prompts to get the writing going. For example, in one prompt we’ll write collaboratively like Wang Wei and P’ei Ti, two T’ang Dynasty poets who wrote from a shared wilderness environment in their "Poems of the River Wang"; in another, we’ll hike silently and compose in our mind while walking.

In paying attention to the ecology of the Sonoran Desert, we’ll also consider how a poem can be considered to have an ecology itself. We’ll enter poetry as energy transfer: from and through the poet, from and through the desert trail we’ll traverse. You’ll finish with a number of poem-drafts, which we’ll then meet to discuss on the following Wednesday. You can expect to end the hike both physically and mentally invigorated and refreshed, with a renewed vision of both poetry and the desert.

Poets Wendy Burk and Eric Magrane (a Senior Hiking Guide at Canyon Ranch) have written poetry together in wilderness environments as Artists-in-Residence in three National Parks. Eric taught the popular Ecopoetics class for the Poetry Center in the fall of 2009 and is the editor of Spiral Orb, an online experiment in permaculture poetics. Wendy is Library Specialist at the Poetry Center and is the translator of Tedi López Mills’ While Light is Built.


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