Between Clarity and Wilderness: How to Tune Your Tension with Traci Brimhall

Every writer has their strengths, but we often tend to over-rely on what we already know we do well. In this craft lab, we'll focus on how to create a balance of tension in poems. We'll look at poems that model a balance of tension between clarity and wilderness, narrative and music, emotion and intellect. We'll then use exercises to generate new work that tries to balance our inherent strengths by employing vocabulary, syntax and tonal choices we normally shy away from. If you have a natural gift for image and metaphor, what happens when you incorporate philosophy or meditation? If you tend to write simple, declarative sentences, how would your work change if you wrote a poem in a single, long, winding sentence and focused on the musicality of language rather than clarity? Sign up for a tune-up.

All participants will have access to a cloud recording of the craft lab for one month afterward.


Traci Brimhall is the author of four poetry collections: Come the Slumberless from the Land of Nod (Copper Canyon, 2020); Saudade (Copper Canyon, 2017); Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton, 2012), winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press, 2010), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book AwardHer poems have appeared in the New YorkerPoetry, the Believer, the New Republic, Orion, New York Times Magazine and Best American Poetry. She’s received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brimhall lives in Manhattan, Kansas, and serves as the current Poet Laureate of Kansas.