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Too Much is Just Enough: Allowing Excess in Poetry

  • Big Blue Marble Bookstore 551 Carpenter Lane Philadelphia, PA 19119 USA (map)

On Sundays We Write continues with Devin Kelly and “Too Much is Just Enough: Allowing Excess in Poetry.”

So much of the workshop process is about cutting material, to the point where many writers think that revision means excision. Though this is obviously true in certain instances, and learning how to assess and cut your own work is a necessary skill to build as a writer, not much is said for the ideas of excess and permission. When do you allow yourself to say more as a writer? When do you allow yourself to be “too much”?

This workshop will focus on building our ability to give ourselves permission to write into excess. It will focus on excess of all forms — length, content, subject. We will go together into whatever has been deemed impermissible and explore what it means to write into that. We will study poems by Chen Chen, Terrance Hayes, Jess Rizkallah, Larry Levis, Hannah Rego, and Steve Scafidi. We will also work on writing exercises that focus on giving ourselves permission to be “too much.”

Through careful study, discussion, and writing, we will leave this workshop with more faith in our ability to revise, not as a practice of excision, but as an active practice of re-visioning — re-visioning our approach to writing without restraint, fear, or self-consciousness.


DEVIN KELLY is the author of In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen and the co-host of the Dead Rabbits Reading Series. He is the winner of a Best of the Net Prize, and his writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Guardian, LitHub, Catapult, DIAGRAM, Redivider, and more. He lives and teaches high school in New York City.

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