Naropa University 2017 Summer Writing Program

Gimme Shelter


We’ll think about how to continue writing through the disaster of the contemporary, and what it means to truly be contemporary with our time: how to manifest that being, how by thinking or being we might mean dancing, or the particular form thought takes when it’s embodied in (fugitive) performance, music, or song. We’ll also try to imagine a new commons, economies of shared resources to sponsor our ambitions and projects. This seeking of strategies and tactics will mark our considerations even as we meditate, or otherwise listen to wander, unplugging and drifting into the intelligence of refusing instrumentality. Knowing that poets start new cultural movements, that performance and community can provide leadings, we’ll ask some questions of each other: what moves, actions, and dreams need to be in our repertoire of resistance and creation for the Here & Now, what sorts of practices will see us though to the end of the world––the end of this world of immiseration––and unto another (new) world. Jackson Mac Low’s “Social Project 3” lays out one possible dream: “FIND A WAY TO PRODUCE EVERYTHING EVERYBODY NEEDS & GET IT TO THEM // MAKE IT WORK.” For the duration of our time together we’ll call ourselves a troupe, a cell, an assembly, a collective body, and ask what we might do with this chimera made of persons in performance. In her newest book, Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, Judith Butler writes of mass street protest, and the need for it to remain in our repertoire of struggle: “So when people amass on the street, one implication seems clear: they are still here, and still there; they persist; they assemble, and so manifest the understanding that their situation shared, or the beginning of such an understanding. And even when they are not speaking or do not present a set of negotiable demands, the call for justice is being enacted: the bodies assembled ‘say’ ‘we are not disposable,’ whether or not they are using words at the moment; what they say, as it were, is ‘we are still here, persisting, demanding greater justice, a release from precarity, a possibility of a livable life.”

Bruce AndrewsBruce Andrews and Sally Silvers, Writing In Motion
Tapping into the dynamism and surprises of cross-genre exploration: for writers to explore creating movement out of Language and writing out of Movement. No dance, theater, or athletic ability/experience required. We'll generate or play off of original texts, and experiment with embodying and physicalizing them (on ourselves or others, in performance or in visual imagery). Together we'll look at video and performance texts with an eye toward new kinds of writing. Through collaborations, talking about what 'works' and what's possible, we'll spotlight the experiments that can happen with bodies and words mutually in motion.


Bruce Andrews is the author of several dozen books of poetry and performance scores—most recently, Make the Bed at Night & forthcoming, Mistaken Identity. His essays on poetics are collected in Paradise & Method: Poetics & Praxis. Former co-editor, with Charles Bernstein, of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine and The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book. As Music Director of Sally Silvers & Dancers, he has created compositions & live mixes of music & texts for three decades of performances.
Sally Silvers



Sally Silvers is an award-winning choreographer who also has published articles, essays, and poems in magazines, chapbooks, journals and anthologies. She is the co-director of two dance films, has choreographed three musicals and is known for several community curatorial projects, including TalkTalkWalkWalk (combining dance artists and poets).  From 2005 to 2011 she danced in the new and historical works of Yvonne Rainer. She has been collaborating with Bruce Andrews since the 1980s.


Erik EhnErik Ehn, Contemplation as Resistance: The Creative Use of Nothing

An intensive series of writing and performance exercises designed to build to a short, complete work. Our time together will focus on how contemplation is essentially about finding a home and putting it into relationship with the other homes (con-temple), and we'll explore relationships between will and not-knowing, between meaning and implication, between conflict and paradoz, and set these thoughts in motion. Readings will include Blanchot's The Writing of the Disaster, selections from John of the Cross, and others.

Erik Ehn is a playwright, educator and theorist of contemporary theater. His works include The Saint PlaysNo Time Like the Present, Wolf at the Door, Tailings, Beginner, and Ideas of Good and Evil. The Soulographie project is a series of seventeen plays written over twenty years, on the history of hte US in the 20th century from the point of view of its genocides. Soulographie scripts include Maria Kizito, Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling, Yermedea, and Drunk Still Drinking. Co-Artistic Director, Tenderloin Opera Company (Providence, RI; generating new works of music-theatre by, for, and about people who are homeless / homeless advocates). He is a graduate of New Dramatists, and is the Director of Writing for Performance, Brown University.

Tonya FosterKhadijah Queen, Literature as Community, Writing as Cultural Meditation
During this workshop, we will look at poetry, short fiction, drama, essays, public performances and hybrid works that interact directly with the public, popular culture, politics and/or with writing itself as an everyday practice. The idea is to consider literature's role in culture making and in daily life, and to recognize that writers are not as isolated from the world as some oft-repeated myths claim. Among our chief interrogations: why and how does writing matter in the present moment? How can its role evolve in the future? What is the reader's role in shaping the literary landscape? In our reading and writing, we will discuss and attempt to enact contemporary literature's current and potential power to influence and shape culture, revitalize language, promote critical thought, and perhaps even compel readers to action and/or change.

Khadijah Queen is the author of five books, most recently I'm So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On (YesYes Books 2017). In 2014, she won the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers for her verse play Non-Sequitur, staged at Theater lab in NYC by The Relationship in December 2015, and published by Litmus Press. Individual poems and prose appear in Fence, Tin House, jubilat, Gulf Coast, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Memoir, Buzzfeed, Bellingham Review, Hyperallergic, The Force of What's Possible and widely elsewhere. She is core faculty in poetry for the Mile-High MFA program at Regis University.

Layli Long SoldierLayli Long Soldier, Urgency
We will explore the power of urgency in a poem. What makes a poem feel urgent, as readers? What speaks to us urgently, pushing us to the page, as writers? Is it a force to be aware of, to seek, to seize? In turn, we'll consider matters of time, timing, and timelessness. Though the immediacy of a given moment passes, how do we work with the urgent subject to resonate, insist, and remain timely? We will read and think together, we'll write and allow what's pressing, passionate, critical, and demanding to lead us.

Layli Long Soldier holds a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA from Bard College. She has served as a contributing editor of Drunken Boat. Her poems have appeared in The American Poet, The American Reader, The Kenyon Review Online, and other publications. She is the recipient of the 2015 NACF National Artist Fellowship and a 2015 Lannan Literary Fellowship. She is the author of Chromosomory, and WHEREAS, will be published in 2017. Long Soldier resides in Santa Fe, NM.

Janice LoweJanice A. Lowe and Julie Patton, Sound-poetry Installation Design, Writer as Bridge: Listening to the “hark”
Bird chorus/tree conference/the unheard winged/legged FAMILY othered into extinction. What does the “hark” say? Let’s learn to hear before disaster wakes us. Mining natural world noise and found instruments, writers will map, make, and record sound-poetry scapes. hanging laundry sounds/rhymed with brooding skies What’s the sound fallout from dips in the unfamiliar, of logging outrages? Does social media immersion dull or sharpen empathy? Will new communication paths bring writers seconds closer to being a bridge?

Julie Patton

Janice A. Lowe is the author of Leaving Cle and composer of Lil Budda, text by Stephanie L. Jones, which was developed at the O’Neill Conference and NAMT. She has composed for the plays 12th & Clairmont by Jenni Lamb and Door of No Return by Nehassaiu deGannes. She co-founded The Dark Room Collective and absolute theater. She has taught Poetry and Performance at SUNY-Purchase and holds an MFA in Musical Theater Writing from NYU.



Julie Ezelle Patton lives and works among words, sounds, and images. Her wild life poetics take the form of scrolls, extended texts, performances, and installations. Her writing is featured in anthologies What I Say: Innovative Poetry b Black Writers in America, Tender Omnibus, Best American Experimental Writing, and Big Energy: Ecopoetics Thinks Climate Change. She has collaborated with composters and instrumentalists, poets, actresses, filmmakers, dancers, botalists, naturalist, terrestrial nolluscs, stray felines, flora, and fauna, in anoted venues here and abroad. Julie has taught at New York University, Case Western University, and Naropa University. A former New Yorker, Julie now lives in exile.


Brad O'Sullivan


Brad O'Sullivan, We Are Verbs and We Will Lots of Them
Live. Think. Work. Write. Type. Edit. Print. Hand-set. Proof. Re-set. Proof. Lock-up. Ink. Proof. Pack. Proof. Adjust. Proof. Curse. Adjust. Proof. Print. Re-ink. Print. Wash. Stack. Collate. Trim. Bind. Finish. Redistribute. Repeat. With our hands & with our wits, we’ll design, hand-set and letterpress print a project combining text and imagery.


Brad O’Sullivan is a letterpress printer and mechanic by default. He’s a writer, teacher, analog enthusiast, and proprietor of Smokeproof Press, a letterpress workshop in Boulder, where he employs his Tetris skills at arranging glorious heavy metal machinery. He wears pencils, plays typewriters and guitars, and relishes collaborations with writers, artists, musicians, and publishers.


giovanni singletongiovanni singleton, failure to obey: tracking the fugitive self through sight and sound
In this course we will explore “the fugitive self,” body and soul, primarily through a fusion of sight and sound. “Failure to obey” currently (and usually) elicits deadly consequences. Here, however, it represents an invitation to boldly create and enter a transcendent state wherein such “failure” becomes a tool of radical self-possession. In addition to writing, daily instruments include physical movement and vibrational gestures. As Rumi has observed, “This being human is a guest house.”  Expect to shelter in and out of place.

Former debutante giovanni singleton’s debut collection Ascension, inspired by Alice Coltrane, received the 81st California Book Award. She is founding editor of nocturnes (re)view, a journal dedicated to innovative work of the African Diaspora and other contested spaces. Her work has appeared in Poetry, on two hundred pounds of Nomadic Ground coffee, and in North American Review, Best American Experimental Writing, What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers, Resisting Arrest, and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology. Excerpts from her AMERICAN LETTERS: works on paper were exhibited in the Smithsonian’s American Jazz Museum and San Francisco’s First Visual Poetry and Performance Festival.




Ronaldo WilsonRonaldo Wilson, Side-Eye and the Political Others
Side-Eye in its informal mode is a sidelong glance expressing disapproval or contempt. If who is suspect is what is suspect, how might the indirect and peripheral reveal the political subject and collective selves? This class will engage with News, Secrets, and Embodiments by way of intra-linear and disruptive modes (Collage, Sound, Movement) and artists (Linzy, Jordan, Yu, Kentridge, Vicuña et. al) to reveal multiple ways into our writing practices.    

Ronaldo V. Wilson, PhD, is a mixed media artist, scholar, and the author of Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man, Poems of the Black Object, Farther Traveler: Poetry, Prose, Other, and Lucy 72. Co-founder of the Black Took Collective, Wilson is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  

Reed Bye

Reed Bye’s most recent publications are Fire for Thought, What’s ThisCatching On, Broke Even (a CD of original songs), and Join the Planets: New and Selected Poems. He has just retired after nineteen years on the core faculty of the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University, where he taught poetry writing workshops and courses in classic and contemporary literary studies and contemplative poetics. He continues to teach in the new Kerouac School Low-Residency MFA.


MFA LECTURE: Richard Froude