Finding Your Subject
These are tough times for subjects in poetry. Many current poems--e.g., the Ashberian sort--don't even have a subject (and that’s putting it mildly). The danger in this was seen long ago by Frost, who spoke of “undirected associations” that kick a poet “from one chance suggestion to another in all directions as of a hot afternoon in the life of a grasshopper.” In this workshop we’ll look at the case for subjects in poetry. What sorts of subjects can a poem have? What can a subject do--and not do--for a poem (and a poet)? Can we make finding new subjects easier? We’ll explore these questions—central ones for poetry, yet little considered—with reference to subjects of poems from the formal canon, and prospective subjects brought to the table by workshop participants.