poetry / writing

Notes from a Workshop with Ralph Angel

Ralph Angel reads a handful of poems
Going through some old journals this weekend, I found a sheet titled “Workshop Notes – Ralph Angel 4/21/07.” The excitement I felt at finding these notes is similar to what I felt walking into that workshop with a writer I adored. I was so nervous, I can’t remember half of the workshop, so thank goodness for these notes:
Anytime you can, use the pure noun and verb.
Vagueness never conveys vagueness.
If you have a heavy-handed subject, you cannot treat it heavy-handedly. (See Cesar Vallejo’s “Weary Rings“)
Poetry: language for a language that cannot be articulated. Art exists because it cannot be said.
What do you think about Angel’s explanation of why art exists?
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18 thoughts on “Notes from a Workshop with Ralph Angel

  1. I like Angel's art explanation. Maybe art can be more explored than said. Or experienced. Or how about – traveled. I often think of art as a journey of some sorts, moving me in some way as I travel with it.

  2. Andrea, I can be dense sometimes. Any chance you can explain the first two notes? What does use the "pure" noun and verb mean? What is meant by "vagueness never conveys vagueness"? Very interested in these concepts.Thanks.

  3. Hi Danny, My interpretation of Angels thought on the pure noun and verb is don't use adjectives and adverbs. Keep the language simple. In terms of "vagueness never conveys vagueness" well, I think he means don't try to be so abstract about something you want to be "abstract" about because no one will understand what you are saying. The reader needs to be able to grasp what you're writing about. It's kind of like his thought on heavy-handed subjects.

  4. Thank you for posting the video of Angel reading; what a treat! I'm not sure if I agree that art exists because it cannot be said. I think art is a different way to say something, a way to convey what matters to those who might not recognize the message in another form. Or maybe a way to make that message, whatever it is, have more emotional impact. Hmm. It's worth thinking about a lot more.

  5. I like your take on art, Kathleen. I think there are some things that cannot be said, but agree with you that art can also a different mode of communication. I'm happy you enjoyed the Angel reading. I've been fortunate enough to see him read a few times and am always mesmerized.Wishing you a lovely weekend!

  6. I'm such a Ralph fan, so viewing this video was a treat. Him and Mary Ruefle in a room together? A bit like magic for those of us who love words. I'm glad to have found your blog!

  7. Yes, although only during a cross-genre workshop. Several friends had him as an advisor and they raved and raved. 🙂 And all best to you as you take a blogging break. Those are needed, indeed.

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