Workshop: Revising a Poem by Dean Rader

Poet Dean Rader will provide a workshop on Balance and Proportion: Revising the Poem at the San José Poetry Festival 2016: Breaking Borders on Sunday, September 18, 2016 at History San José, CA. This workshop will be held from 2:00 p.m.- 3:50 p.m.

How fun is writing that first draft? How hard is turning that mediocre first draft into a good second draft? And how hard is turning the slightly better fifth draft into that even better sixth draft. When does it end? What if you make it worse? This workshop will focus on the least sexy part of poem-making—the act of revising. It will use as its compass the ultimate goal of poetic proportionality.


Dean Rader’s Works & Days, won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Prize, and Landscape Portrait Figure Form (2014) was a Barnes & Noble Review Best Poetry Book of the Year. He is the editor of 99 Poems for the 99 Percent: An Anthology of Poetry and the winner of the 2015 George Bogin Award from the Poetry Society of America. He is a professor at The University of San Francisco, where he won the university’s distinguished research award in 2011. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Boston Review, Prairie Schooner, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, Zyzzyva, Best American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day and dozens of others. Two new poetry collections are forthcoming: Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon Press, 2016) and Suture, collaborative sonnets written with Simone Muench (Black Lawrence Press, 2017).


SOMETHING THAT MELTS can also burn, like a
Thicket of ice in the pond, the cold net
Of stars, even the hard white ax of the
Heart. A man can freeze without getting wet

Just as he can lose without being lost,
But winter finds everyone, even though
We spend our whole life eluding it. Frost
Reminds us of what is to come—the snow,

the sky, the trees, the skin, the sleet, the sleep.
How often have I woken in fear, blind
In my unknowing? The woods are dark and deep,
Even in the day; still the mind will find

Its way into the light, into the bright
Thaw of this life, where we, both flake and flame,
Fire and fall through. Let sun daze, let night
Show day how to blaze, let death drop its name.


Workshop: Surreal Poetry by Tresha Haefner-Rubinstein

Tresha Haefner-Rubinstein is an ideal person to teach a Surreal Poetry workshop at the San José Poetry Festival 2016. Tresha holds an M.A. in the Psychology of Creativity, from Saybrook University, and has studied with such poets as Kim Addonizio, Matthew Dickman, Sally Ashton, and such notorious surreal poets as Brendan Constantine, Sarah Maclay, and Hannah Gamble (recipient of the Ruth Stone Lily Prize). Tresha’s own work has been published in many journals and magazines, most notably, The Cincinnati Review, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, and Rattle. She currently teaches advanced creative writing in Los Angeles.


How are surreal poems both similar and different from other types of poems? In this workshop you will learn a little bit about the history of surrealism, its goals and aims as well as its aesthetic principles. You will discover new techniques for reading surrealist poetry and alternative methods for writing it on your own. Even if you are not a “surrealist” poet, you will discover creative new ways of using “surrealist” techniques to enhance your more traditional verses, and spark original ideas.

Here is a poem by Tresha  Haefner-Rubinstein.


Map: Something sepia-toned, full of sea monsters. It tells you where you want to be, everywhere you are afraid to go.
Cartographer:  A boy, looking out a window, dreaming about sex and butterflies.  He is looking for the right passage. He is looking for lost keys. He is looking for you.
Isthmus: In a large body of water, two narrow strips of love with death on either side. Cross at night. Cross at morning. Sleep long sleeps in the gusty afternoon.
Ocean: Something for whales to swim in. The eye of the same boy looking out the window, dreaming about sex.  A large body of water. A large communication network for whales who sing to each other from entire hemispheres away.
Hemisphere: An imaginary line.
Imaginary Line:  All lines are imaginary. Even the map is an invention, a basket we wove to hold the entire world.
Continents: What holds the body, holds the mountains. A place to find moose and lizards, tea-roses and butterflies, about which a boy is dreaming when he looks out the window, imagining the seas parting for the clean slicing bow of his ship.
Compass Rose:  A flower. The blossoming of discovery. The first boat broke through the water like a floret cutting the soil. Wherever way it was pointed, that was the way home.