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The American Poetry Review


When I first took my introductory poetry workshop to the print shop at Dickinson College, I hoped to engage the bodies as well as the minds of the beginning poets. Setting lead type, choosing paper by weight and texture, mixing an ink color, deciding upon the arrangement of a poem on the page, then turning the press over to ink the type and make an impression that ratifies all those decisions, adds another aesthetic dimension to poetry. I have come more and more to believe this aesthetic dimension is crucially absent in the way many if not most poets have thought about poetry since the prominence of free verse and its offspring from the late nineteenth century to the present. Poetry originated as bodily movement, odes danced and recited to the Greek lyre, epics passed down through the traveling scops reciting by memory. Metrical and rhyming verse made these kinds of bodily engagements natural, but free verse lends itself more sparingly to physical activity.


This published version is made available on Dickinson Scholar with the permission of the publisher, The American Poetry Review.