All poetry is conventional and all convention exists in public spaces and in history. This workshop will take these truths to be fundamental to free verse poetry and, drawing from them, will examine the various ways poetic conventions might be considered by poets practicing what is, ultimately, a public art. (Critic Harry Levin has noted, “A private convention, like a prefabricated myth, is a contradiction in terms.”) We will discuss what constitutes a line of free verse poetry, the many ways groups of free verse lines can be in communication with each other (and with you), what silence and interiority have to do with free verse poetry, and what (exactly?) is free about free verse. And much more. Each class will begin with a close examination of a classic free verse poem. From there, we will workshop poems by students in the class, always asking ourselves how these poems inhabit convention, how they speak to us, and what they say. Each student will turn in two free verse poems for workshop a week ahead of the first day of class. The instructor will also offer a schedule for workshopping poems ahead of the first meeting. Outside readings will be provided ahead of time.