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Comet of Stillness: Taught By Victoria Chang and Matthew Zapruder

January 22, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - February 19, 2023 @ 6:00 pm PST


Victoria Chang and Matthew Zapruder will be teaching a class called Comet of Stillness: A five-week short course on the Poetry of W.S. Merwin. The course will meet on Sundays from January 22 – February 19, 2023.

Early Bird Tuition (before January 12, 2023): $270.

Standard Tuition (After January 12, 2023): $300.

Financial Aid is available

From the organizers:

W.S. Merwin’s poetry was visionary, ecological, anti-war, and humanist, and exhibits a clarity and strangeness that continues to exert a profound influence on contemporary American poetry. The goal of these five sessions is to dive deeply into this extraordinary poet and his body of work. Across five sessions, poets Victoria Chang and Matthew Zapruder will facilitate close-readings of key poems, and will situate the poems, and the poet, in their historical contexts. The course will explore Merwin’s formal innovations, his thematic concerns, and his development as a poet from his earliest work to his final poems. Chang and Zapruder will introduce, and talk with, key figures from his literary life, including Merwin’s long-time editor at Copper Canyon Press, Michael Wiegers.


In addition to course meetings, Chang and Zapruder will provide additional reading materials. Each session will begin with an hour of discussion, including background and close readings, followed by a ten-minute break. The session will then reconvene for a second hour in which Chang and Zapruder will discuss thoughts from the chat, answer questions, and offer further insights. Each session will end with an optional poetry writing prompt based on Merwin’s poetry.


Dates/Times:  Sundays, January 22 – February 19, 2023  4:00-6:00 PM (Pacific) on Zoom


Early Bird Tuition (before January 12, 2023): $270.

Standard Tuition (After January 12, 2023):  $300.

Financial aid is available. Please contact us if needed.


What to Expect:

Five, two-hour weekly sessions online with assigned reading of poems and supplemental material.
In the first sixty or seventy minutes of each session, Victoria Chang and Mathew Zapruder will explore and supply background on the previously assigned poems.
In the second hour, we will reconvene in our large group for conversation and questions.
Participant questions and comments may be addressed using Vimeo’s chat feature during the second hour, though questions can be posted in the chat throughout the session.
Optional small (8-10 person) discussion groups will be available to those with the energy and interest after the formal session is over.
Optional writing prompts based on Merwin’s poems will be provided.
Each participant will be given a seat on a dedicated SLACK channel, where writing prompt responses and extracurricular discussion can occur.
This course will be presented live online on the Vimeo platform.
These sessions will be recorded, and will be available for later viewing by registered participants for 30 days following the final session.
For this course, our text will be The Essential W.S. Merwin; handouts for each session will be posted online.

Participants who don’t own the text are asked to purchase and explore it, if possible, before January 22.

The Essential W.S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press)


Session 1 (Jan. 22): Introduction and early forms

Session 2 (Jan. 29): The Lice: war and the environment

Session 3 (Feb 5): Middle Period: intellect, resistance, and formal innovation

Session 4 (Feb. 12): The Vixen: time and ghosts

Session 5 (Feb 19): Late poems and Merwin’s poetic legacy

Online, and year-round, The Writers’ Annex is composed of short courses, seminars, workshops, and more. Our vision is to bring the creative insight and experience of our staff poets and prose writers to our community in all seasons, not just in the summertime, and not just here in our Valley. Our online offerings will address such topics as eco-poetics, translation, and generative sessions. Some will be one or two days, some will be weekend intensives, and some will meet weekly for a month or two. In addition, we hope these offerings will help offset the tremendous expenses we incur each summer bringing excellent writers of poetry and prose to the Valley regardless of their ability to pay.



January 22, 2023 @ 4:00 pm PST
February 19, 2023 @ 6:00 pm PST
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Community of Writers
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