The Art & Joy of Befriending Verse
Check back soon to learn about
the next virtual program!
It’s no secret that when it comes to us modern-day earthlings taking time out of any given axis-spin to engage with art, poetry often gets a “swipe left” in the face of other imaginative offerings that seem a bit...well, easier on the mind’s eye. Generally speaking, art forms such as music, films, novels, and plays tend to feel a bit more "approachable" than your average and far-from-ordinary lines of verse entitled, for example, "The Anecdote of the Jar" (a widely revered and studied poem by Wallace Stevens). Despite the deep emotional, intellectual, and sensorial returns poetry offer us on the investment of our hearts and minds, it can (and often does!) demand a lot from those of us curious, sentient beings who are privileged enough to have access to things like roller coasters, Netflix, cupcakes, puppies, and...let's not kid ourselves...naps!
Still, poems are a form of art we can't help but ceaselessly reach for and rely on as we are also curious dreaming beings. So... How is it that we can feel utterly perplexed in venturing through one poem, yet so at home inside another? Why do we feel double-crossed by one poem’s speaker, while another has us at hello with the title alone? The truth is, the opportunity is always available to pull back the curtain on any poem’s word-wizardry and humanize our interaction with verse by replacing questions like “What does this mean?…Why am I so confused?…Who the freak is speaking here?..."Wait, where was I?” with the singular, more experiential driving query: “Can I have a successful relationship with this poem?”
The answer to this question may be different for each of us as we get to know any given poem, but our shared capacity to call a poem “friend” will always rely on how mindfully we as open-minded, educated readers approach, understand, and engage with the meticulously chosen and crafted actual words on the page.
In this four-part online program, you’ll gain a wide range of skills and insights that will allow you to confidently arrive at your own conclusion as to whether any poem you read holds the potential to be a lifelong soul-companion, casual acquaintance, or respectful (albeit ardent!) mental-swipe to the left. Each week's 90-minute excursion with verse will include a dynamic mini-lecture, and through a fusion of instructive examinations of masterful poems (both celebrated and lesser known), impassioned readings, guided discussions, spotlight lessons on poetic craft, eye-opening videos clips and "handouts," and brief but powerful writing exercises, you'll leave this four-part program empowered with the critical know-how and creative gusto to get to know poems of any size, shape, tone, style, or ultra dubious title— any or all of which just might turn out to be your new best versified friend.
Here's a teaser of the titles for each week's focus!
I want my poems to befriend you. I don't want you to read a poem and feel like it was a test or a maze or a puzzle, or that it took you somewhere and now you have no idea where you are. I want you to feel as if you met a new friend and wouldn't mind seeing them again. When we feel befriended in the world, we feel more peaceful. We feel as if we're safer, and more connected to one another.
- Naomi Shihab Nye
~ SESSION ONE 3/7 ~
The Poetics of Trust: How Poetry Functions as a Relationship
~ SESSION TWO 3/14 ~
Miraculous Mechanics: Lifting the Hood on Choices that
Drive (or Derail) the Transcendent Power of Verse
~ SESSION THREE 3/21 ~
Poetry Show & Tell: A Closer Look at the Vital Alchemy
of Concrete & Abstract Language
~ SESSION FOUR 3/28 ~
Bootsoles to Supernovas: Exploring Poetry's Inimitable Gift
of Inciting Wonder While Keeping Shit Real
Friends & lovers of the imaginative pen! If you're looking to enrich your literary understanding of poetry in a way that's fun—you read that right, FUN!—fresh, and ever grounded in the art form's seedbed of human benevolence, I'd be delighted for you to study with me across this vivifying monthlong excursion! Whether you come to the program as a reader, a writer, and/or a slightly fearful but totally curious lover of the versified wordstuff, I will deliver the goods to make it worth your virtual—and soul-nurturing—while.
Treasured Student Testimonials
(These generous words were expressed by students who participated in one or several of my original poetry programs.)
The poems you shared in class have profoundly altered the way I see myself and the world. You honor poetry and the art of teaching by the way you connect with your class and your craft. Honestly, you have changed my life and impacted me in the most positive, wonderful way.
Danielle has introduced me to many new poems that I love, expanded my knowledge of technical terms (my favorite is euphony, AKA "mouth joy"), helped me discern what I do and do not like in a poem from a compassionate, non-judgmental place, and generally just inspires me to show the fuck up for poetry on a regular basis.
Coming to your workshops was one of the best decisions I made this year. Thank you so much for all your warmth and the welcoming space!
Thank you for introducing me to so many mind-blowing, life-changing poems, and for unlocking new ways of understanding and befriending them. You are an incredible teacher & poet and I’m excited to learn more from you in the year to come.
It was such a pleasure to revisit the study of a literary art form without feeling as if I were in a rigid academic setting. Danielle is inspiring!
I loved the intimate, relaxed setting of the class, and so appreciated the many resources you shared with us to supplement the lessons.
Thank you for an eye-opening, inspiring, perspective-shifting series of classes. I’ve truly looked forward to every one of them, and take your teachings with me—they pop up as little reminders in my mind throughout the days. You’ve created something so beautiful, and for that I am ever grateful. I look forward to whatever future incarnation comes! Thank you thank you!
Thank you again for last night's workshop. What an inspirational evening! I couldn't wait to get home and read "The Fish" to my boys!
Danielle does a superior job of explaining what makes poetry tick while also touching your heart and mind. Her passion is infectious. To be sure, I have a new appreciation and enthusiasm for poetry, all thanks to her!
I have learned so much about the inner workings of poetry, which I have long loved. I only wish the course were longer!
Danielle Gasparro is a Brooklyn-based wordsmith, songsmith and teaching artist. She holds an MFA in poetry from New England College and a BA in creative writing with honors from Florida State University. Her poetry and essays have been published in the Daily Palette, Chronogram, Shift: A Journal of Literary Oddities, the Red Wheelbarrow and elsewhere. Prior to 2018, Gasparro devoted nearly twenty years to performing, recording and building an avid following as a nationally touring singer-songwriter. The obtaining of her MFA signaled a shift in artistic focus to her long-term work as a writer, and Gasparro is currently developing a hybrid memoir that fuses poetry, nonfiction and photography. A passionate educator, Gasparro regularly presents poetry talks and workshops in partnership with public libraries and arts organizations throughout New York’s Hudson River Valley. A regional library tour of her popular poetry-demystifying program is slated to launch in the Northeast in the spring of 2023. On occasion, Gasparro still performs her music live, as curated with her poetry into a dynamic solo concert experience presented exclusively in intimate, piano-centered spaces: “An Evening of Voice & Verse.”