Beloved Madness: Writing Love Poems in the 21st Century

The “love poem” is usually a term we want to make the gag sign for; who wants to read a love poem anymore? Immediately thoughts plume of sentimental fluff, high-fructose stuff of lofty 19th century-poems. In this workshop I propose to address the changing nature of the concept “love poem” and offer prompts sparking poems addressing love of the self, the family, the lost, and of the external world in various forms as well as talk about writing poems addressing lack of, or the end of love. 

Class will begin with a brief cover of historical love poems beginning with snippets of the Egyptians, the Greeks, on into Shakespeare, and a quick sweep of the last few centuries, which will segue into a slightly longer look at 20th century innovative influences, especially the confessionalists. 

We’ll look at the evolution of poetic forms of expression such as the movement away from the sentimentality of the greeting card to the text message and social media endearments. While not necessarily poetic, technology is influencing the way we communicate and the way we express love. 

The spine of the four week class will include poets addressing various “loves” such as an aging parent in Tony Hoagland’s “Lucky” for example, and wondrous work such as Ocean Vuong’s “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong” in which the poet seeks to accept and love the self. Work of Joanna Klink and Airea Matthews will address lack of love.

Additionally we’ll examine poetry evoking an ache for humanity and the universe itself that express love of place, love for what is slipping to the past, and consider the desire/love for the domestic partner. Each week’s class will be infused with links and videos for inspiration.


Teaching Artist: Judith Roney
Four weeks / $175