Emily Dickinson said, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry....Is there any other way?” Together we will try to answer the question — What Makes a Poem? — from multiple angles, ranging from the technical elements of poetry, matters of personal taste, formal and free verse, style and content, oral and written tradition, and universal meaning. A diverse selection of poets past and present will be discussed including Dickinson, Frost, Millay, WC Williams, Archibald MacLeish, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Billy Collins, Sharon Olds, and more. LIMITED REGISTRATION: 30.


Kate Sontag holds a Master’s Degree in Poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She served as Visiting Professor at Ripon College and Adjunct Professor at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. Kate is a co-editor of the essay anthology After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography (Graywolf) and has published widely in poetry journals and anthologies. Kate is the winner of the Ronald H. Bayes Poetry Prize from Sandhills Review and the Severy Excellence in Teaching Award from Ripon College. 

Suggested reading: Handouts will be provided.



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OLLI: the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College
Partners in education with Williams College, Bard College at Simon's Rock and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

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