Poetics Workshop with Hoa Nguyen: “Cutting Across Linearity”

“Cutting Across Linearity” : A Poetics Workshop


Award-winning poet Hoa Nguyen has been offering poetics workshops – in Toronto and in cyberspace – for nearly twenty years. Born in the Mekong Delta and raised in Washington D.C., she studied Poetics at New College of California in San Francisco. Her books include As Long As Trees LastRed Juice: Poems 1998-2008, and Violet Energy Ingots, nominated for a 2017 Griffin Prize for poetry.

Alongside her own long-running private poetics workshop, Nguyen has taught poetics in numerous settings, including at Ryerson University, for Miami University’s low residency MFA program, and in the Milton Avery School for Fine Arts at Bard College.

Her upcoming workshop “Cutting Across Linearity: Reading and Writing through Emily Dickinson & Gertrude Stein” runs from Jan. 21 to Apr. 15, 2018. Tuition for the 11-week course is $190. Students can attend in-person in Toronto, Canada; and there are a limitless number of seats available in cyberspace. Cyber-students may work asynchronously (i.e. on their own schedules) as well can attend the weekly Toronto sessions via a Google video call option.

Visit the workshop link to learn more & register

Read more below about how this unique educational opportunity works.


(description from Hoa Nguyen’s website)


“As poetry changes itself, it changes the poet’s life. Subversion attracted the two of them. By 1860 it was as impossible for Emily Dickinson simply to translate English poetic tradition as it was for Walt Whitman. In prose and in poetry she explored the implications of breaking the law just short of breaking off communication with a reader. Starting from scratch, she exploded habits of standard human intercourse in her letters, as she cut across the customary chronological linearity of poetry. Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), influenced by Cezanne, Picasso and Cubism, verbally elaborated on visual invention. She reached in words for new vision formed from the process of naming, as if a first woman were sounding, not describing, ‘space of time filled with moving.’ Repetition, surprise, alliteration, odd rhyme and rhythm, dislocation, deconstruction. To restore the original clarity of each word-skeleton both women lifted the load of European literary custom. Adopting old strategies, they reviewed and re-invented them.”—Susan Howe

In this workshop, we will read and write through alternating works: Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein and Emily Dickinson’s Selectededited by Brenda Hillman. These books of poetry will generate conversation and strategies for the writing we enact.

Update Dec. 9: Toronto-based seats have been filled; wait list possible. Cyber-seats available.


How else to write poetry? Read.

We spend the first hour reading poems (aloud) and another hour writing. The writing portion takes the form of starting points & prompts drawn from the poems as well as those of my own design.

For cutting across linearity, we will alternate weeks reading Tender Buttons and Dickinson’s Selected with Susan Howe.

Weekly written materials include introductory and contextualizing commentary, supplemental materials, and inventive writing prompts.

Workshops for virtual students culminate with a one-on-one 25-minute consultation with me. For Toronto poets, it concludes with in-class reviews of mini-manuscripts as a community of poets.

All students receive weekly written materials regardless of whether virtual or in-person and unable to attend the class in real time.

There is an optional Google video call feature. A podcast recording is shared via a Google Drive folder.

No workshop Feb. 18, Feb. 25.


Required texts:

The Pocket Emily Dickinson
Brenda Hillman, ed

Tender Buttons
Gertrude Stein

My Emily Dickinson
Susan Howe


More Details on the Workshop:
Both in-person and virtual students find this weekly engagement generates poems, provides insight on revisions of older work, gives new understanding to poetics, and inspires the reworking of dusty manuscripts.

Attendance occurs in cyberspace: weekly written materials include supplemental essays, images, sound files, links, and the like.

For Toronto poets, we meet in my home near Chester Station from 4 PM to 6 PM.


History of the Workshop, Cost and How to Join:
I have led poetry workshops like this one for nearly 20 years. See this link for an essay on the workshop as part of the Bagley Wright Lecture Series. An essay on the class is included in the anthology Poets on Teaching (University of Iowa, 2010).

I will gladly send you samples and answer questions.

Cost for this 11 session series is a reasonable $190 USD/CAD equivalent.
Email me at hn2626@gmail.com for Toronto registration.

Limitless cyber-seats.

Tuition guarantees your seat for distance participation.

This shared account is under my partner’s name (Dale Smith); funds come to me.
Tuition guarantees your seat.

Checks, cash, payment schedules, and Interac also accepted. Please inquire.

(this workshop description is from Hoa Nguyen’s website)


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