Naropa University 2016 Summer Writing Program

science and sanity

Week Three // Science & Sanity 

The title comes from Count Alfred Korzybski’s book on linguistics that William Burroughs so admired. Here we are looking at the current madness of our world in its miasmic egotistical Anthroposenicdecline. How do we witness and respond as writers and thinkers? How may writers transmute and call attention to the dystopia? Powerful political and business elites find it in their interest to deny scientific truths and basic facts, blocking progressive policy and action. Climate change threatens to destabilize life everywhere, and perhaps fascistic states will follow. We already have ecological panic, and the New Weathers are scary. We will think about how communities can work together with a sense of the new science that speaks of the connections of the brain, and the material history we’re living and making: the Anthropocene––nothing not affected or afflicted by the meddling hand of homo sapiens. We will look at issues of economic and racial injustice. We will think through ideas of truth and reconciliation, and the job of creative word-workers who want to shift the frequency of our troubling dystopia. 


Margaret Randall // Writing Science & Sanity 

Margaret RandallGovernment agencies control our every move, word, and action. And those once applauded as whistleblowers are now imprisoned or exiled. Seriously? Can our words find their place in the chorus of survival and creativity? We will present, read, and critique poetry related—from whatever angle—to the problem.  

For twenty-three years,Margaret Randall lived in Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua. From 1962 to 1969, she edited EL CORNO EMPLUMADO / THE PLUMED HORN, a bilingual quarterly publishing some of the best work of the sixties. Upon coming home in 1984, the government ordered her deported, claiming her writing to be subversive. She won her case in 1989. Her most recent poetry collection is About Little Charlie Lindbergh. // Margaret Randall


Laird Hunt // Histories: a fiction workshop 

Laird HuntHistorical figures like Herodotus, Hannibal, Billy the Kid, and Calamity Jane have all served as energy nodes around which writers have built significant works of prose. In this workshop, we will take inspiration from texts like Michael Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter, Toni Morrisons Beloved, and W.G. Sebald'sThe Emigrants as part of an exploration of that prose which, if we can kick awake that poor overworked pearl, posits the historical as its grain of sand. 

Laird Hunt is the author of, among others, the novels Kind One, Neverhome,and forthcoming next year from Little, Brown, The Evening Road. 



Renee Gladman // Compression and Decay 

Renee GladmanThis workshop revolves around a series of questions. Among them: what would it mean for us as writers and thinkers to regard language as geography, as place traveled through, inhabited, as land nurtured, damaged, transformed? And how can we use this expanded view of language to invoke the places of our imaginations, dreams, or experience? Through in-class reading and writing exercises, we’ll explore the effects of composing next to and within ruins, secret geographies, and invisible cities.  

Renee Gladman is an artist and writer preoccupied with lines, crossings, thresholds, geographies, and syntaxes as they play out in the interstices of poetry and fiction. Author of seven works of prose, and one collection of poetry,new titles are forthcoming this year from Solid Objects Press and Wave Books. A 201415 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, she lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with the poet-ceramicist Danielle Vogel. 


Danielle Vogel // Hidden Histories / Ceremonies for the Silenced 

Danielle VogelThrough a series of immersive writing experiments and ceremonies, we will compose works that speak for and from the silenced spaces in our private, public, and ecological histories.We will work to uncover—and possibly heal—areas of historical numbness. We will explore language’s relation to preservation and the dynamic bonds between representation and reparation. Together, as we craft grammars of dissent and reclamation, we will assemble what has long been absent, unspoken.  

Danielle Vogel is an artist and cross-genre writer. She is the author of Between Grammars and the artist book  Narrative & Nest. Her visual works and public ceremonies for language have been exhibited most recently at RISD Museum, The Nordic House in Reykjavík, Iceland, Temple University, Pace University, and The University of Washington at Bothell. A graduate of the Jack Kerouac School, she teaches writing and book arts at Wesleyan University.  


Julie Carr // The Face of the Other: Epistolary Form  

Julie Carr“The face is present in its refusal to be contained,” writes EmmanelLevinas. Beginning with a viewing of Marina Abramovics “The Artist is Present,” we will consider self and other in their ethical relation. We will read work that presents address as its central project. Thinking of “other” in intimate and political contexts, we will write letters to people real, imagined, dead and living, letters addressed to corporations, governments, and objects. Come prepared to move.  

Julie Carr is the author of six books of poetry, including 100 Notes on Violence, RAG, and Think Tank. She is also the author of Surface Tension: Ruptural Time and the Poetics of Desire in Late Victorian Poetry. Essay Press recently released a chapbook of prose, “The Silence that Fills the Future.” Objects from a Borrowed Confession (prose) is forthcoming from Ahsahta press in 2016. Carr is the co-founder of Counterpath Press and Counterpath Gallery. // Julie Carr


Gloria Frym // Prose Paradise

Gloria FrymWe’ll play in the fields of Baudelaire’s toujourspoète, mêmeen prose, corresponding with other fearless prose practitioners.  All that isn’t sungor the sentenceis our current paradise.  We may read narratives and tales and write one paragraph or two dozen. We may look at canvas, typographic constraint, unjustified, ungenrified prose. With all due respect and justice.  When they find us, we’ll be sweet and fierce, nimble and quick, our politic our home. 

Gloria Frym is a poet and prose writer. Her most recent book of prose is The True Patriot (Spuyten Duyvil, 2015). She is the author of short story collectionsDistance No Object (City Lights Books), and How I Learned (Coffee House Press)—as well as many volumes of poetry, including The Stage Stop Moteland Mind Over Matter.Her book Homeless at Home received an American Book Award. She chairs and teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. 


Corrine Fitzpatrick // Cut Common Time: All Deep Things Are Song

Corrine FitzpatrickFor this class, we will look to a selection of poems, Robert Duncan’s Toward An Open Universe, Anne Boyer’s recentessays, andDodie Bellamy’s When the Sick Rule the World, while we contemplate poetry’s unique ability to simultaneously describe and emulate the irregular time signatures of life’s profound experiences (the standstill of grief; the blur of infatuation; the freeze frame of trauma). Each student will focus on composing one long poem over the week. 

Corrine Fitzpatrick is a poet and art critic based in NYC and California. She wore many hats for the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church from 200413, and has covered contemporary queer and feminist art for and other publications since 2010. She holds an MFA from Bard College, is a lecturer for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Low-Residency MFA Program, and is a Visiting Critic for Columbia University’s Graduate School of Art. 


Steven Taylor // Songworks 

Steven TaylorWe discuss various genres of song, drawing upon the Smithsonian Folkways Anthology of American Folk Music. By day two we are a band. Everyone develops a song. By the end of the week, we have a set list. Maybe we put on a show. Maybe we do some recording. No experience preferred, I mean, required.  

Steven Taylor collaborated on songs with Allen Ginsberg for twenty years. He is a Fug. His book,False Prophet: Field Notes from the Punk Underground,was published in 2003 by Wesleyan University Press. In 2014, his score for Douglas Dunn + DancersAubade was nominated for a Bessie Award for Best Sound Design. He has taught annually at the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University since the program was founded in 2010. 



Colin Frazer // Word as Thing

Unlike spoken language, words printed on paper are "things" and live quite different lives. This workshop will interrogate the meaning of thingness in the context of the printed word. Participants will learn the fundamentals of letterpress printing while considering and activating the life of the printed object in relation to language  

Colin Frazer is a typographer, artist, and founder of the design studio The Service Bureau. tSB produces projects spanning publication design, type design, website and exhibition design, writing, curation, and pedagogy. His artwork resides in collections including SFMOMA, and the Walker Art Center has had recent solo exhibitions in the U.S., Belgium, and Morocco. He has taught widely, including positions at RISD, Colorado College, CalArts, Gothenburg University, Penland, and The University of Texas-Austin. // Colin Frazer // The Service Bureau


Tisa  Bryant // Transform Encounter 

Tisa Bryant“We have no other experience of living than through encounters,” writes Lyn Hejinian. “We have no other use for language than to have them.” In this class, we will extend ourselves toward what we know and don’t know about the differences—spiritual, physical, racial, lingual, and gender— of the Other and of another, beyond surfaces and soundbites, for sharp and vulnerable writing. Our tools: memory, curiosity, fear, empathy, ignorance, the six senses. Goal: Risk. Destination: “a meeting place and a realm of confusion.”  Requirements: An open hand. A closed eye. A willingness not to be right but to be real. 

Tisa Bryant  is the author of Unexplained Presence (Leon Works, 2007), a collection of essays on myth-making and black presences in film, literature, and visual art, and co-editor and publisher of The Encyclopedia Project.  Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Mandorla, Body Forms: On Queerness and the Essay, the Reanimation Library's Word Processor series,and in Letters to the Future: An Anthology of Experimental Writing by Black Women, among others. She is currently working on a novel, The Curator. Bryant teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the California Institute of the Arts.  


// Special Guest

Richard Tuttle


Richard Tuttle is an American post-minimalist artist known for his small, subtle intimate works. His art makes use of scale and line. His works span a range of media including sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, artist’s books, furniture, and installations. He lives and works in New York City, Abiquiú, New Mexico, and Mount Desert, Maine. // Richard Tuttle



// Dharma Arts 

Robert SpellmanRobert Spellman has practiced and taught Buddhist meditation for forty years. He was director of Dorje Khyung Dzong, a rural retreat center, and Karma Dzong, an urban meditation center in Boulder, Colorado. He has worked as a painter, graphic designer, illustrator, piano re-builder, and musician. His work is exhibited nationally and internationally, and appears in numerous publications. He teaches in the Visual Arts, MFA Theater, and Religious Studies programs at Naropa University. He is also co-founder of Mountain Water, an artist’s retreat in the wilds of southern Colorado. // Robert Spellman