The autobiographical impulse has always been a strong one in American poetry, but it wasn’t until the so-called “confessional” poets began writing in the late 1950s and 60s that the poet’s life became a widely accepted source of inspiration. In this workshop we will examine autobiographical poetry’s roots in Confessionalism and some of the legal and ethical concerns that arose as a result. Then we will look at some contemporary poets who have been influenced by Confessionalism and discuss how their work transcends the confessional impulse.
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About Sue Ellen Thompson
Sue Ellen Thompson is author of six books of poetry, most recently Sea Nettles: New & Selected Poems (2022). She is also the editor of The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry. Her work has been included in the Best American Poetry series, read on NPR by Garrison Keillor, and featured in U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s nationally-syndicated newspaper column. She taught at Wesleyan University, Middlebury College, Binghamton University, and Central Connecticut State University before moving to the Eastern Shore in 2006. She was awarded the 2010 Maryland Author Prize from the Maryland Library Association. More about her at: sueellenthompson.com.
Teaching style: I am very serious about craft–what I can teach adult students that will help them write better poems. As a result, I tend to be very organized in my approach to teaching a workshop and averse to letting the discussion wander off-target. Many poets, even those with graduate degrees, lack formal education in areas such as metaphor, line breaks, revision, tone, syntax, and organizing a manuscript. My goal is to fill in the gaps and give poets the tools they need to writing moving, well-crafted poems.
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