From ley lines tracking sites of power, to cognitive maps detailing our inmost cartographies, and constellations mapping images of stars, we’re always searching for new ways to represent known territories and the undiscovered country we’re writing towards. This week we’ll explore and think about what guides are available for the poem, the novel, and the anti-memoir in the twenty-first century, and where our writing will take us. We will consider the poem, the novel, the narration, the allegory, the anti-memoir. We will consider documentary practices of research and investigation, and discuss notions of “place” and “architecture," survival, and language, and translation as the necessary crossing. Language and ritual as vision, as a tool into our cultural heritages. We will consider translation, cross-cultural work, the founding of programs and schools, and the struggle for common ground. This week will also include a special focus on Native American writing, community, and activist commitments: a crucial nexus.
In this workshop, students will read contemporary Native American poetry and interpret their use of language and poetics. And explore how indigenous thought and writing inform and resist American standards of literary aesthetics. Students will also think and write from a space, as Acoma poet, Simon Ortiz says, “[Where the word] is part of the complete voice of a person,” to meditate on and reimagine the wholeness of self through language.
Orlando White is the author of Bone Light and LETTERRS. Originally from Tółikan, Arizona, he is Diné of the Naaneesht’ézhiTábaahí and born for the Naakai Diné’e. His work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Omnidawn Poetry Feature Blog, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation Residency and Bread Loaf John Ciardi Fellowship. He teaches at Diné College and in the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. // Orlando White
This workshop will encourage participants to read and discuss texts and generate new work in the context of the memories, symbols, and languages that poetry allows us to retain and reframe. Some of the issues we’ll consider are: how do you keep from writing vulgar poems about culturally specific places? How do places, relationships, and communities live on through poems? Do they? Do we simply imagine survival?
Joan Naviyuk Kane is the author of The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife, Hyperboreal, and The Straits, for which she has received the Whiting Writer’s Award, the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, and an American Book Award. Kane graduated from Harvard College and Columbia’s School of the Arts. Inupiaq with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, she raises her sons in Anchorage and is MFA faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
The impossible is easy to reach/Who knows the way out of the labyrinth?/These are not rhetorical questions. —Philip Lamantia
I have always loved hearing several takes on the same voice. How do different bodies negotiate the simultaneity enacted in the work of Charles Olson, Barbara Guest, or Fred Moten? How does our personal take on their phrasing serve as a trigger to our practice? In this course, we will absorb the lives and acoustics of several poets in order to uncover ways of accessing our own signature cut to the line. I often want to be ripped out of whichever measure my voice has come to rest in. We will use various exercises and open forms to achieve this, employing natural ways of brooking our voice until it steers off the page into an endlessly available vision.
Cedar Sigo was raised on the Suquamish Reservation in the Pacific Northwest and studied at The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute. He is the author of eight books and pamphlets of poetry, including Language Arts, Stranger in Town, Expensive Magic, and two editions of Selected Writings. He has blogged for SFMOMA, The Poetry Foundation, and City Lights Books. He has taught at St. Mary’s College and University Press Books. He lives in San Francisco.
We will work with a range of poetic experiments that combine text and image. We will respond to prompts and constraints to collect, detect, and catalog images. We'll then explore the art of captions: how does text change our collected images? What are the powers of besidedness, of the paratactic? Some assignments might ask you to take photographs and transfer them into a document, so a device with a camera is recommended (though not required).
Jena Osman’s books of poems include Corporate Relations, Public Figures, The Network, An Essay in Asterisks, and The Character. She co-edited the literary arts journal Chain with Juliana Spahr for twelve years. She teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Temple University. // Jena Osman
Amze Emmons is a multidisciplinary artist with a background in drawing and printmaking. His images evoke a sense of magical/minimal realism inspired by architectural illustration, comic books, cartoon language, information graphics, news footage, consumer packaging, and instruction manuals. He teaches printmaking and Visual Studies at the Tyler School of Art. // Amze Emmons
In this week-long workshop seminar, we’ll investigate alternative methods of mapping a literary cosmology. Reading Ronald Johnson’s Radi Os as a cartographical “key” to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, we’ll study how Johnson’s erasure method opens up new paradigms for imagining and negotiating literary space in your own work. Please read Book I of Paradise Lost and Book I of Radi Os before the first day of class, so we can hit the ground running!
Srikanth Reddy is the author of two books of poetry–Facts for Visitors and Voyager–both published by the University of California Press. A book of criticism, Changing Subjects: Digressions in Modern American Poetry, was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. He has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Capital Foundation, among others. Reddy is currently an Associate Professor of English at the University of Chicago.
Set your text into lines of type, searching for the nodes to link with other texts. With this framework, we begin to define the spaces in our book. We’ll discuss choices in typography, image making, materials, and structure, exploring together until we find our way to the finished work.
Julia Seko is a letterpress printer, book artist, and instructor of letterpress printing and book arts for more than twenty years. She is adjunct faculty at Naropa University, where she helped set up the letterpress studio, and her letterpress work is in university and private collections. Julia also co-founded the Book Arts League, a nonprofit letterpress and book arts organization.
Amiri Baraka and Ed Dorn were linked by aesthetic and political sympathies. Baraka published Dorn’s first book in 1961. The period of their most intense friendship, 1959–1965, occurred amidst various poetic movements. Even after Baraka had broken from the downtown NYC scene, the two continued to share political and poetic views. Yet their critical reception has been divergent. Baraka remains a “difficult” figure that continues to trouble the whiteness and liberalism of the poetic avant-garde.
Dorothy Wang is an Associate Professor in American Studies and a Faculty Affiliate in the Department of English at Williams College. She is the author of Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry. In March 2015, she co-curated the online symposium "Race and the Poetic Avant-Garde" in Boston Review.
“Poetry can extend the document,” wrote Muriel Rukeyser. In this workshop, we will forage around in various kinds of records—personal, historical, obfuscated, outed, in the legal record or the infraordinary quotidian, and look for "'that small remaining quantity' after so much has been used or sold" (Renée Green, “Survival: Ruminations of Archival Lacunae”); that is, what needs to be poetry-known, seeking ways to constellate it on the page. Authors we’ll look to for inspiration might include Simon Ortiz, Muriel Rukeyser, Charles Reznikoff, NourbeSe Philip, RaúlZurita, and Layli Long Soldier.
Eleni Sikelianos is the author of seven books of poetry and two hybrid memoirs (The Book of Jon and You Animal Machine). Forthcoming is Make Yourself Happy. Awards include two National Endowment for the Arts Awards, a Fulbright, Seeger Fellowship, and the National Poetry Series. Her work has been translated into a dozen languages, and she frequently collaborates with musicians, filmmakers, and visual artists. A graduate of the Jack Kerouac School, Sikelianos has taught poetry in public schools, homeless shelters, and prisons, and currently teaches at the University of Denver.
Death tolls across the globe and at home tell of persons who perish seeking asylum from wartime or economic injustice while others fall victim to incidents of political terror, gun rampages, killings by law-enforcement officers, domestic violence, or institutional neglect. The struggle of poetic inquiry is to make personhood meaningful from multiple perspectives, in choral subjectivity, and to rethink the ethics of counting the uncounted, the disenfranchised, and the abandoned by history.
Roberto Tejadais the author of poetry collections Full Foreground, Exposition Park, Mirrors for Gold, and Todo en el ahora (translated into Spanish by Alfonso D’Aquino, Gabriel Bernal Granados, and Omar Pérez). His publications on art history include National Camera: Photography and Mexico’s Image Environment, and A Ver: Celia Alvarez Muñoz, as well as essays on Graciela Iturbide, Pablo Helguera, and Luis Gispert, among other contemporary U.S. and Latino American artists.
Ecopoetry incorporates aspects of ecology into poetic practice. In particular, through both content and form, ecopoetry often examines the relationship between built and natural environments. In this experimental workshop, students will explore the idea of “eco-architecture” as it applies to a poem’s form and shape. The workshop will especially consider how an attentive experience of place and space affects our sense of that place, and explore how that sense can be recreated in poetry.
Sherwin Bitsui is the author of the poetry collections Shapeshiftand Flood Song. He is Diné of the Deer Springs Bitter Water People, and is born for the Manygoats People. He grew up on the Navajo Reservation in White Cone, Arizona. His honors include the 2011 Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Native Arts & Culture Foundation Fellowship for Literature, a PEN Open Book Award, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Writers Award.
// Special Guests
Joy Harjo is an internationally known poet, writer, performer, and saxophone player of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. She is the author of eight collections of poetry including the most recent Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, and the memoir Crazy Brave, as well as the collection of essays and interviews Soul Talk, Song Language. Her many writing awards include the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets for proven mastery in the art of poetry; a Guggenheim Fellowship; the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts; the Rasmuson United States Artist Fellowship; and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She is Professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Jennifer Elise Foerster is the author ofLeaving Tulsa, published by the University of Arizona Press in 2013. A member of the Mvskoke Nation, Jennifer is an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Vermont College of the Fine Arts. She has received a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, and is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Denver. // Jennifer Elise Foerster
Giovannina Jobson is an ordained minister in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition (Upadhyaya) and a graduate of the MA Religious studies Program in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and Contemplative Religions. Trained by Trungpa Rinpoche, Giovannina is a Dharma artist, social artist, and mindfulness instructor. Giovannina has been a practicing Buddhist for over forty years and is also a Shambhala Training director for Shambhala International. At Naropa she teaches Buddhist Studies courses as well as courses that focus on artistic expression inspired by the lives of renowned mystics from many traditions.