PUMPING UP THE PANTOUM: Poetry Workshop by Donald Levering
The pantoum originated as a Malaysian poetry form that involves a specific pattern of repeating lines. It was discovered in the West by Victor Hugo, adopted by Baudelaire, and championed by contemporary American poets such as Carolyn Kizer, John Ashbery, Marilyn Hacker, and Donald Justice. The form promotes poems of imaginative narrative or obsessional description. Pantoums were originally an oral form and their power of out- loud presentation persists among contemporary literary examples.
In this workshop we will study several pantoums in a range of styles and voices and learn ways that the form’s repetition can be varied to pump-up interest and elevate what’s at stake. By carefully crafting repeated statements in the pantoum form, writers can engender poems with strong musical and emotional effects.
Donald Levering won the 2018 Carve Poetry Prize, judged by Carmen Jeménez Smith. In 2017, Eavan Boland selected him winner of the Tor House Robinson Jeffers Award. Previous honors include a NEA fellowship and the Quest for Peace rhetoric award. His 14th poetry book, Previous Lives, was published by Red Mountain Press. His prior collection, Coltrane’s God, was Runner-up in the New England Book Festival contest. He has volunteered with Earthwatch and Enkosini on species preservation projects. He lives in Santa Fe, where he volunteers as a US citizenship tutor.