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Iowa Summer Writing Festival—Losing “Your” Voice: The Art of Imitation in Poetry with Jared Joseph (March 17–April 14, 2021) is a Course

Iowa Summer Writing Festival—Losing “Your” Voice: The Art of Imitation in Poetry with Jared Joseph (March 17–April 14, 2021)

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Full course description

Losing “Your” Voice: The Art of Imitation in Poetry with Jared Joseph

(Five-Week Workshop)


Wednesdays on Zoom: March 17–April 14, 2021

2:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m. Central Time (3:00-6:00 Eastern; 12:00–3:00 Pacific; 1:00–4:00 Mountain)

Fee: $600

Course Description

We will discard the age-old adage of “finding your voice” in favor of listening to and mimicking the extraordinary lyric voices that we encounter in this generative poetry-writing course. That’s how babies learn to speak, after all; hence, writers of all levels are welcome here, insofar as we are losing our voices in order to begin at the beginning, where imitation is the bedrock of invention. In keeping, we will approach the art of poetry as an art of imitation, with the 5-week course structured into 5 corresponding units: 

1.    Imitation of Sounds (Rhyme)

2.    Imitation of Nature and Reality (“Mimesis” and other fun Greek words)

3.    Imitation of Masters and Conventions (Who is this poet imitating? And how/why do we “recognize” this poem as “good”?)

4.    Genres of Imitation and the Imitation of Genres (Parody, Homage, and Translation / The resilient but ever-changing Sonnet)

5.    Imitation’s Limitations (Can a poem really imitate a river? The wind? A Dorito™? Death?)

Our class will meet every Wednesday on Zoom to discuss and close-read the week’s readings for form and technique, to write in-class generative poetry exercises, and to share each other’s work. There won’t be workshops per se, but each week students will send to me a poem that I will voluminously comment upon and return before our next session. Near the end of the five weeks, I will hold individual 30-minute conferences with each writer. Here’s a flexible rundown of our weekly meetings (in Central Time):

2:00 – 3:00: Unit Lesson and Close-Reading

3:00 – 4:00: Individual writing exercises with built-in Zoom breaks

4:00 – 5:00: Discussion and sharing of exercises, preparation for next week’s challenges.


Jared Joseph’s most recent poems have been published in the Columbia Review, Gulf Coast, and Fence, whereas his book Drowsy. Drowsy Baby is available from Civil Coping Mechanisms Press. He has maybe a thousand chapbooks flapping around, and holds an M.F.A. in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Ph.D. in Literature – Creative Writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He loves teaching, writing, and being bad at skateboarding, and continues to cultivate all three in Santa Cruz.

Registration & Fees

The fee for this course is $600. Payment in full is required to register.

Registration for this course opens Thursday, February 18, 2021.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Class size is limited to 10.

Note: Your credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “UI Writing—Magid Center.”

Cancellation Policy

A $100 cancellation fee will be applied to refunds for cancellations received by Wednesday, March 3, 2021. Thereafter, no refunds are available.

Terms & Community Policy

The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a community built on an assumption of shared enterprise, in the spirit of mutual respect. We reserve the right to a) revoke the registration of or b) dismiss from the program any person who disrupts the learning/working environment of others. Participants in the Festival are subject to all University of Iowa policies governing conduct in our community, whether online or in person.



Contact the Iowa Summer Writing Festival: Phone: (319) 335-4160.

Our tiny staff is working remotely. If you phone and we miss you, please leave a message!