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The Art of Poetry as the Art of Remembering. Jane Huffman, Instructor is a Course

The Art of Poetry as the Art of Remembering. Jane Huffman, Instructor

May 13, 2023 - Jun 10, 2023

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Full course description




Spring, 2023


The Art of Poetry as the Art of Remembering (Five-Week Workshop)


Jane Huffman, Instructor





Saturdays on Zoom, May 13–June 10, 2023


  • 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Iowa/Central Time
  • 12–3 p.m. Eastern Time
  • 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Pacific Time
  • 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Mountain Time



Course Description


Walter Benjamin wrote: “Memory is not an instrument for surveying the past but its theater. It is the medium of past experience....[They] who seek to approach [their] own buried past must conduct [themselves] like a [person] digging.”

Memory is both a universal and deeply personal force. We all remember. Memory binds us to our communities, our families and friends, and strangers. But each of us remembers differently, in vividly individual ways. In this course, we'll consider how poets access and capture “remembering” on the page –– and we'll bring the artful practice of remembering into the poems we generate in our time together.

Memory can be misty, malleable. It can be clear and precise. It can be scattered, shattered, unreliable. It can be deeply emotional, embodied. It is informed by our values, experiences, identities, relationships, wounds, joys, geographies, psychologies, and physiologies. Because of this malleable nature, memory and poetry enjoy a rich reciprocal relationship: through remembering, the poet can become inspired to voice, interpret, and reinterpret their witnessing. Likewise, through writing, the poet can “approach [their] own buried past [...] like a [person] digging,” uncovering new memories and remembering old ones through new lenses.

In our five weeks, we'll read contemporary poems that, in a word, remember –– poems that respond to the poet’s personal, familial, communal, and bodily memories –– and we'll generate new poems of our own. We'll discuss how the model poems we read function, focusing on craft techniques: syntax, diction, voice, form. How does the poem perform in the “theater” of memory? What does it enact? How can the personal process of remembering help us build a unique poetry aesthetic?

Each week, I will provide bespoke writing prompts, inspired by our reading, to inform weekly writing assignments. Our discussion of reading materials will be followed by a poetry workshop with a conversational approach. Poets will be invited to ask questions and participate in their own workshop sessions. Poets will gain new insights into their poems and specific strategies to revise them, including feedback from the group and written commentary from the instructor. In the latter part of the course, I'll meet with each poet for a 30-minute individual conference.

Over five weeks, you can expect to read new and exciting poets and produce at least five new poem drafts. Together, we will cultivate a space where we can all share and explore memory as writers, navigating the difficulty, rewards, and catharsis of doing so.

This course invites new and experienced poets alike: prompts will range in complexity to cater to all experience levels.




Jane Huffman’s debut poetry collection, Public Abstract, was the winner of the 2023 American Poetry Review/Honickman first book prize. Jane has her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Denver. Her poems have been published in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, The Nation, and elsewhere, and she was the recipient of a 2019 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. She is founder and editor-in-chief of Guesthouse, an online literary journal.


Registration & Fees


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

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.”


Refund & Cancellation Policy


If you need to cancel your enrollment, please let us know as soon as possible. We can only offer full refunds if you cancel one week prior to the start of class. After that, before the start-date of class, we can offer a 50% refund. We cannot refund day-of cancellations, and we cannot refund or partially refund registration fees once the class has begun.


Terms & Community Policy


1.   The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a program for adults. You must be at least 18 years old to enroll in Festival workshops.


2.   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.


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