Robert Bly

Robert Bly
Mohr Visiting Poet

Poetry Workshop

Margaret Jacks Hall, Room 334
Building 460, Stanford University

Wednesday, April 2 - June 4, 2008, 3:15-6:05 pm

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Preface: Last year when Eavan Boland substituted for Robert Pinsky while he was away, she announced to the class that Robert Bly has accepted the invitation to be the 2008 Mohr Poet. I was so excited that Bly is coming to Stanford, as I've attended several of his poetry retreats and workshops many years ago in Asilomar and San Francisco. I also attended the "800th Birthday Celebration of Rumi with Robert Bly" last January 27, 2007 at Stanford. I love Bly's focus on spiritual matters, and was inspired by his frequent citations of Rilke, Neruda, Machado, Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, and Mirabai. Fifteen students showed up in Bly's first workshop. Bly asked everyone to introduce themselves, and wrote in his journal about our background in poetry, instructors we've had, our favorite poets, and even details on our parents. Bly told the class that he makes a living giving poetry readings. He rarely does classroom teaching. Bly told us that Eavan Boland invited him to Stanford so he'll enjoy the warm spring weather in California than the cold of Minnesota. So he accepted. Bly told the class: "I haven't a clue what to do, so you may find me to be a jerk." But as soon as Bly spoke about poetry, you know the words are coming from a master poet. He wants us to learn from the great poets of Europe like Rumi and Rilke as well as modern poets like Mary Oliver. In the first class, Bly read haikus of Basho and Issa, saying that haikus always cut down our ego so we could see the grandiose of the universe. I'm listing the poets Bly read to us as well as the 10-20 minutes writing exercises he conducts in the class. I'm happy in learning to write prose poems, ramage, and ghazals, and having a most productive semester with Robert Bly.

Class & Date Poets Robert Bly Read in Class Poem Written in Class
(1) April 2, 2008
Haikus of Basho & Issa (translated by R.H. Blyth) Haikus: April 2-30, 2008
(2) April 9, 2008
Hafiz & Kabir: Ecstatic Poems Friend— Wake Up!
(3) April 16, 2008
Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems The Great One Married Me
(4) April 23, 2008
Prose Poems: Louis Jenkins, Francis Ponge,
Juan Ramón Jiménez, Mary Oliver, Charles Baudelaire
Sycamore Seed Ball
(5) April 30, 2008
Bly's Insanity of Empire & Turkish Pears in August
Olav Hauge's Trusting Your Life to Water & Eternity
Deodar Cedar Rosebud
(6) May 6, 2008
Mary Oliver's New & Selected Poems Bazaar Dreams
(*) May 7, 2008
Bly's Stanford Poetry Reading The Aha Moment
(7) May 14, 2008
Eavan Boland: Bly's Paris Review 2000 Interview &
1963 Essay "A Wrong Turning in American Poetry"
Haikus: May 1-30, 2008
(*) May 20, 2008
Bly's Stanford Poetry Colloquium Eureka Moment of Joy
(8) May 21, 2008
Bly reads two of his Ghazals & Ghazal Exercise Say No More
(9) May 28, 2008
The Thousands: Tranströmer & Creeley poems
Bly: "Friendships between Sounds" & "Soul Weight"
What Is The Address?
(10) June 4, 2008
Eavan Boland: Process & Product in Poetry Haikus: June 2008

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (5-18-2008)