Black Lawrence Press

Poetry Consultations with David Rigsbee

Do you have an in-progress collection of poems that could use an expert eye? If so, we’ve got four talented poets, all of whom have a great deal of experience as writing teachers, who are ready to help.

Manuscripts may be up to 75 pages in length and should be formatted in 12 point font. The consulting fee is $250. The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is April 30, 2017. Our poets will respond with their critiques by May 31.

Read on to learn more about David Rigsbee. If you might be interested in working with TJ Beitelman, Elizabeth J Colen, Bettina Judd, or David Rigsbee, click on the “Consultations” button at the top of this page and make your selection from the dropdown menu.

Space in this program is limited, so be sure to submit your manuscript soon!

Click Here to Submit

Statement of Purpose

Poems begin in subjectivity, in what Yeats memorably called “the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.”  But they can’t remain there and be poems.  Because their origin is in the poet’s particular experience—imaginative, emotional, expressive—they have to be transformed into speech acts, or better still, into song. The transformation can be daunting.  This is where the poet’s work comes in, and I believe that work benefits considerably from collaborative thinking that involves ways to use and enhance poetic intelligence, from word-choice and image, to acoustic and metrical composition, to architectural development and closure.  I also believe the specific skills to accomplish that work can be passed on from poet to poet.

In my consultations, I try to help poets identify and take advantage of the opportunities—rhetorical, stylistic, musical, metaphorical—inherent in early drafts.  I like to encourage thinking about poems as rhetorical performances intended to invite readers into the suggestive spaces a poem provides.  At the same time I’m interested in understanding the difference between poems that work toward a resonant simplicity and those that, in Linda Gregg’s phrase, “tap-dance” and so often skirt the deeper commitments good work requires.

I want to make sure that structure and detail are crafted, sturdy, precise, and aesthetically compelling.  Russell Edson once said that “of all the things that could have happened, this is the very thing that happens.”  An unfinished poem can go in many directions, but in the end it only goes in one—one that turns both inwardlly, acknowledging its origins (the rag-and-bones) and outwardly, as it hooks up with the larger world.  Contemporary poets whose work I follow, read, and reread include Gerald Stern, Jorie Graham, Terence Hayes, Robert Pinsky, and Robert Hass, to name just a few.

By David Rigsbee

Black Lawrence Press accepts submissions and payment of the entry fee exclusively through our online submission manager, Submittable. We are not able to accept submissions via email or postal mail.

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Upcoming Consultations

We’re planning some great consultations for 2017! Creative nonficiton with Abayomi Animashaun, fiction with Kelly Magee, poetry with Jessica Piazza and much more. Stay tuned for details!

David Rigsbee

David Rigsbee is the author of 21 books and chapbooks, including seven previous full-length collections of poems.  In addition to his poems, he has also published critical works on Carolyn Kizer and Joseph Brodsky, whom he also translated.  He has co-edited two anthologies, including Invited Guest:  An Anthology of Twentieth Century Southern Poetry, a “notable book” selection of the American Library Association and the American Association of University Professors and featured on C-Span Booknotes.  His work has appeared in AGNIThe American Poetry Review, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, The Ohio Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Sewanee Review, The Southern Review, and many others.  He has been recipient of two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a NEH summer fellowship to the American Academy in Rome. His other awards include The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown fellowship, The Virginia Commission on the Arts literary fellowship, The Djerassi Foundation and Jentel Foundation residencies, and an Award from the Academy of American Poets.  Winner of a 2012 Pushcart Prize, the Vachel Lindsay Poetry Award and the Pound Prize, he was also 2010 winner of the Sam Ragan Award for contribution to the arts in North Carolina. Rigsbee is currently contributing editor for The Cortland Review. . More places to connect with David online: . The Poetry Foundation  

Rigsbee Author page