Naropa University 2016 Summer Writing Program

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Week Four // Labyrinths of Community, Labyrinths of Performance 

Indra’s net is an image of the world as an infinitely interconnected and multidimensional reality, and out of this complexity we’ll push the boundaries as readers, writers, and singers. The larynx is essential. We come out of isolation, yearning to communicate. We will move through changes: evolve and morph, experiment in writing; we’ll nurture and refine our tones and modal structures with our ears tuned to a heightened melopoeia. We will keep going; we are a webwork of artists with an alternative survival plan; we may yet believe: “When the mode of the music changes the walls of the city shake.”  

We come out of isolation, yearning to communicate with original ideas, seeking discourse: we write all night on our screens and read all day, we make videos or turn on the recording machines, and mix the results. We find our communities and spaces in the interstices of our imaginations, we find or found new performance venues, magazines, zines, archives, print-shops, above all: we abdicate the doldrums! Aas one of our heroes, Harry Smith, who lived on this campus several years, said: “I am grateful to have lived to the world changed by music.” 


Valentina Desideri & Christian Hawkey // Decolonizing Gestures

Valentina DesideriIn 1933 the ground-breaking feminist and working physician Charlotte Wolff was arrested and briefly detained by the Nazis for dressing as a man; she fled to London (via Paris) and went on to publish two astonishing studies of chirology and gesture. The seminar is inspired by this radical healer. We will be developing modes of reading and modes of gesturing that expand and inform a writing and healing practice, with healing defined as a process by which we seek to touch or map different scales of different processes. 

Valentina Desideri is an Amsterdam-based artist. She trained in contemporary dance at the Laban Centre in London (2003–2006) and later on did her MA in Fine Arts at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam (2011–13). She does Fake Therapy and Political Therapy, she co-organises Performing Arts Forum in France, she speculates in writing with Prof. Stefano Harney, she engages in Poethical Readings with Prof. Denise Ferreira da Silva, Christian Hawkeyshe reads and writes. // Fake Therapy


Christian Hawkey has written two full-length poetry collections, four chapbooks, and the cross-genre book Ventrakl (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). A new book, Sonne from Ort, a bi-lingual collaborative erasure made with the German poet Uljana Wolf, was recently published (kookbooks Verlag, Berlin, 2013). He translates contemporary German poetry, and with the German poet Uljana Wolf he translates the Austrian writer Ilse Aichinger. He lives in Berlin and Brooklyn, and he directs the MFA in Writing at Pratt Institute. 


Junior Burke // Lyrics to Music  

Junior BurkeWe will look at the relationship of lyrics to poetry: how they converge and how they are different. We will determine the most effective ways words can be fused with musical compositions. Further, we will acquaint ourselves with the American lyrical canon and identify ways that our current writing can be applied to the demands of that form. We’ll likely write a song or two.    

Junior Burke is a lyricist, dramatist, and prose writer. His songs have received a Cable Ace Award, an RIAA certified Gold Record, and the John W. Schmid Award for Best New Work. Soft Trumpet, Slow Guitar, for which he provided book and lyrics, is being developed by Gary Cordice, artistic director of 2B Scene Theatre for a UK production. His fiction was included in Litscapes: Collected US Writings from 2015. He is an Associate Professor at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.   


Julie Ezelle Patton & Paul Van Curen// If You Can Imagine It Must Be Reel

Julie Ezelle PattonA line goes for a walk: Lets follow it out the door. ABC daring til we go on sheets. Chances are: Improvisation forms “condensaytion.” Space is the Place: scoring hear-say. Place is the Space: recording creation(s). Mourning has broke kin: Poetry existed before humans or the “Woe-rld.” 

Julie Ezelle Patton’s work is all over creation. She is a Pisces, flying without a net on stage and other planes, “making do” with time and site specific materials—whatever the moment calls. Julie’s work has been anthologized in What I Say, Kindergarde, ((eco (lang)(uage(reader)), and I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women, B's (Tender Buttons Press), Writing With Crooked Ink (Belladonna), & F (Field Books), are forthcoming. She has taught poetics at New York University, Case Western Reserve University, Naropa University, and the Schule für Dichtung (Vienna, Austria). 

Paul Van Curen


Paul Van Curen, a protégé of the late Bill DeArango, is a primarily improvising guitarist/composer who plays with Cloud Flowers, featuring drummer James Hart III and Julie Patton; and Swing Set Car Hood with instrumentalist Valerie Corrigan (among other artists). He is a co-founder of Let it Bee Ark Hives in Cleveland, Ohio. 


Eileen Myles //  Love Me 2 Times 

Eileen MylesThe exciting thought for this week will be us looking at passages from longer works in poetry and prose—and then reading poems derived from them. Like Karen Weiser’s Or, the Ambiguities from Melville’s Pierre, and Erica Kaufman’s poems instant Classics derived from Milton’s Paradise Lost (which I have never read. Have you?). We’ll look at M. NourbeSe Philip's Zong, an anti-narrative poetic lament related to an official account of the massacre of 150 African slaves. The question is how does one text derive from the other, what was the incentive, how do we experience the result. I’ll make a reader of bits from the texts below but get these books & read them. And—each of you bring something to glean from and we’ll grapple with it all week. We’ll be doing a lot of talking, and thinking about how this act of letting something rub off really consciously (& even morally) results in the surprising & jagged and new. Perhaps even terrible.  

Eileen Myles is the author of nineteen books including I Must Be Living Twice: New & Selected Poems and a re-issue of Chelsea Girls, both out from Ecco/Harper Collins in 2015. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship in nonfiction, an Andy Warhol/Creative Capital art writers’ grant, three Lambda Book Awards, a Shelly Prize from The Poetry Society of America, a poetry award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, she was named to the Slate/Whiting Second Novel List, and in 2015 she received The Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing. She is a Professor Emeritus at University of California–San Diego where she directed the writing program and she now teaches at New York University and Naropa University. // Eileen Myles


CAConrad // The Aventurine Manifold Ritual: (Soma)tic Ritual & the Strength of Poetry  

CAConradEach morning the workshop becomes a ritual to recover poetry’s better questions for our living.  We want the best poems because we want the best opportunity to have the clearest lens to see all the way inside. Aventurine is a natural fit for the poet. We will take no one and nothing for granted and will see and honor the vibrational presence around us wherever we write in Naropa as testing ground for the rest of the world. 

CAConrad’s childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift. He is the author of eight books of poetry and essays, the latest, ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness, is the winner of the 2015 Believer Magazine Book Award. He is a 2015 Headlands Art Fellow, and has also received fellowships from Lannan Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Banff, Ucross, RADAR, and the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. He conducts workshops on (Soma)tic Poetry and Ecopoetics. // CAConrad


TC Tolbert // Glossolalias God 

TC TolbertCompositional Improvisation is a fully embodied practice of composing in the moment, individually and collaboratively. If attention is action, how do we live? Let us arrive and practice wholly arriving. Attend to the sound of surrender. How the body may go on and come off. Let us reach for each other/intend to encounter mystery. What will not dance, when it is ready? The root of attention is attendere, literally “to stretch toward.”  

TC Tolbert often identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, dancer, and poet but really s/he’s just a human in love with humans doing human things. The author of Gephyromania (Ahsahta Press, 2014) and three chapbooks, TC is also co-editor (along with Trace Peterson) of Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books, 2013). His favorite thing in the world is Compositional Improvisation, which is another way of saying being alive. // TC Tolbert


Thurston Moore // Rock n Roll Consciousness 

Thurston MooreWe will look at the early ‘70s poetry of Bill Knott vis-à-vis Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine as they founded the premier NYC punk rock group Television. With this context, we will start a band (or bands!) and either find a gig or do-it-ourselves.    

Thurston Moore moved at age nineteen in 1977 to NYC to play punk rock and write poetry. He founded Sonic Youth in 1980. Currently he performs as a solo artist. He has published his writing as well as others on his imprints Ecstatic Peace Library and Flowers & Cream. His most recent book Stereo Sanctity is a compendium of all his lyric writing up until 2015 as well as an overview of his poetry.  // Thurston Moore



Charles Alexander // Elegant Punk Printing

Charles AlexanderWe will print three broadsides in multiple colors from handset type & polymer plates, then engage in guerrilla adornment through splatter painting, rubber stamping, and stencil brushing, moving quickly in the service of Poetry! Not everyone can print at the same time, so we will also learn two techniques for pamphlet sewing/binding of small books, and engage in studies and discussion of means of survival for literary presses. 

Charles Alexander is a poet, artist, and director of Chax Press. His collections include Pushing Water, Certain Slants, Near or Random Acts, Hopeful Buildings, Arc of Light/Dark Matter, and eleven chapbooks from various presses. Poet & Designer in Residence at the University of Houston-Victoria, where he directs the MFA Creative Writing Program and manages the UHV Center for the Arts. He is a 2016 faculty member of U.S. Poets in Mexico. // Chax Press 


Janice Lowe // The Image Wrapped in Rhythm, The Rhythm Wrapped in Meaning 

An exploration of the many dimensions––music and meaning, accidents and aims, of metaphor and the ways, in which, a complete creative surrendering (also known as "not knowing") can lead to surprises in form, thinking, improvisation, and artistic growth. The craft of listening and impulse response in both movement (the body) and writing (the page) will be a major emphasis as we explore the reservoir of orchestras, bands, noise, and perform-a-forms within us. All tradition welcome as we cultivate a wild balance between the mouth and the mind! Janice Lowe

Janice Lowe is a New York City–based composer and poet and co-founder of the Darkroom Collective. She is composer and librettist of the opera Dusky Alice. She has created original music for play, and is the librettist of Little Bird Loose, a song cycle collaboration with composer Nils Olaf Dolven. Her music-text collaborations have been performed at numerous venues. Leaving CLE, poems of nomadic dispersal, was published by Miami University Press in 2016. She is part of the Heroes Are Gang Leaders collective. 


Anne Waldman // Jewels In The Lotus: form is emptiness, emptiness is form

Anne WaldmanWe will consider dharma poetics, investigate our monkey minds, and feed hungry imaginations relative to a poetics of synchronicity. Experiments with translation, Zaum, OuLiPo, lucid dream, shamanic texts, mantra, and the Prajna Paramita Sutra. Get our body, speech, and minds together. Enter a bardic/bardo labyrinth of wonder. Write into the light of our dark inner skulls. Consider our Buddha Family neurosis and wisdom in the Maitri Rooms. We will meditate, collaborate, intervene, vocalize, record, and publish our concerns.    

Anne Waldman is a poet, performer, professor, editor, cultural activist, and the co-founder, with Allen Ginsberg, of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa. She is a former director of The Poetry Project, which she helped found in 1966. Her most recent book is Voices Daughter of a Heart Yet To Be Born. Waldman is the recipient of the Shelley Memorial Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. She is a frequent collaborator with poets, dancers, musicians, and visual artists. // Anne Waldman


Special Guests  

Pauline Oliveros

Pauline Oliveros is a composer and improviser. Recent compositions include The Mystery Beyond Matter, 2014 commissioned by Quiet Music Ensemble Cork, Ireland. Concerto for Bass Drum and Ensemble, commissioned by International Contemporary Ensemble, and performed in New York at Lincoln Center in August 2013. Her work has been recognized by many awards, including the William Schuman Lifetime Achievement Award, the GigaHertz Award, and the John Cage Award. Oliveros is the founder of DeepListening®. Through her DeepListening practice, she has facilitated numerous workshops and intensives throughout the world leading to collaborations across many disciplines. // Pauline Oliveros


Claudia LaRoccoClaudia La Rocco is the author of The Best Most Useless Dress and petit cadeau, and the editor-curator of Danspace Project’s PLATFORM 2015: Dancers, Buildings and People in the Streets. Her collaborators include the choreographer Michelle Ellsworth, the performance company Findlay//Sandsmark, and the musician/composer Phillip Greenlief, with whom she created animals & giraffes. She is On the Boards’ writer-in-residence, and has been presented by The Kitchen, The Walker Art Center, The Whitney Museum of American Art, et al.  

Clark Coolidge


Clark Coolidge is the author of more than forty books of poetry and other, including Space, Solution Passage, The Crystal Text, At Egypt, Now It’s Jazz: Writings on Kerouac & The Sounds, The Act of Providence and most recently 88 Sonnets, and A Book Beginning What And Ending Away. His Selected Poems 19621985 is forthcoming in 2016 from Station Hill Press. He is a drummer and with Thurston Moore, he released the album Tiny People Having a Meeting. He also drums with the free jazz band Ouroboros. 



// Dharma Arts

Judith Leif


Judith Lief is a Buddhist teacher and author.  She was a close student of Naropa’s founder Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and is the editor of many of his publications. She has a long association with Naropa, as a teacher, board member, and former president, beginning in 1974 with a job in the maintenance department.