The Landscape of the Poem: From Eden to Frontier

The same way we look on a tumbling mountain river or a rocky cove on the coast and think, This must be it, Eden, we’ve all had the experience of reading a poem so astounding, so textured and lovely and true—that it seems as if the poem was not made but transcribed from on high. Yet every beautiful vista is the result of millions of years of natural forces—of tremendous work—and that poem you just love, no matter how perfect, too, was made, labored over, reckoned with, crafted. In this workshop, we will read and discuss a number of poems, isolating particular poetic strategies and techniques in each, before trying our hand at building similar poems.

Joe Wilkins

Joe Wilkins is the author of a memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers, and three collections of poems, most recently When We Were Birds, winner of the 2017 Stafford/Hall Prize in Poetry from the Oregon Book Awards. A winner of the High Plains Book Award, the GLCA New Writers Award, and the Pushcart Prize, Wilkins has published essays, poems, and stories in The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, Ecotone, The Sun, Orion, and Slate. Of his work, the Indiana Review writes, “The most striking component of it is its awareness of ‘the whole world.’ What is ordinary becomes transcendent. In places derelict and seemingly unexceptional, Wilkins compels us to recognize what is worth salvage, worth praise.” Wilkins’s debut novel, Fall Back Down When I Die, will be published by Little, Brown in early 2019. Though born and raised on the Big Dry of eastern Montana, he lives now with his family in western Oregon, where he directs the creative writing program at Linfield College.

Read more about Joe Wilkins.