Naropa University 2018 Summer Writing Program

week one

“Now I will tell how bodies are changed into other bodies.” Ovid’s poetics have always been a trope for trauma and possibility both; for how the new emerges out of violence and/or epiphany. In attending to embodied criticality––the leading edge of radical change out of which the new body or collective emerges––we’ll be pressing our writing toward a kind quickness, a flexibility beyond genre, an aliveness:  think of a flock of starlings forming and reforming their collective intelligence, instantaneously as they dodge predators; think of the flashing, emergent idea that results through artistic collaboration; or the findings and insight of a conversation with a friend; think how the lyric and friendship share a deep grammar of intimacy upon which their being depends; think of the poem––the idea of the poem––new in the mind, new in the voice, in performance, or in the field of the page; think of the (collective) body––community––that may yet emerge critical and resistant to the unraveling of the (shared) world that characterizes The Capitalocene. We’ll think through the dangers specific to hypervisible bodies in this era of surveillance and disciplinary regimes. We’ll yet stay tuned to the lyric intelligence, that ancient matrix, predating the technologies of writing and erasure––what resources and rhythms of being might we find there to lead us to the critical edge of the utopian, and nameless image. We’ll necessarily experiment with a range of (temporary) genres and forms; we’ll write towards and under the flag of that ardor and clear, critical intelligence with which Diane Di Prima began the Revolutionary Letters: “I have just realized the that the stakes are myself / I have no other ransom money, nothing to break or barter but my life / my spirit measured out….”               

Lisa Robertson :: The Nameless Image

As for we who are fanatics of form, what do we make of the image? This is my current curiosity. 

The Nameless Science is what Agamben called Aby Warburg's life-long study of the movement of images. In pursuit of this science, we'll look to cosmological descriptions of the work of images in Lucretius, in Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, and in Agamben's account of trobar lyric. We'll consider some contemporary artists' use of literature as an image— Marcel Broodthaers, Renée Green, Karl Larsson. Among poets we'll turn to Ethel Adnan, Baudelaire, Pascal Poyet. How might images speak, and what is their life in politics? We'll posit the lyric poem as the potent shelter of a communal image of resistance.

Lisa Headshot


Lisa Robertson is a poet and essayist; her books of poetry and essays include: Debbie, An Epic; The WeatherOffice of Soft Architecture; Nilling; Cinema of the Present; Magenta Soul Whip; and most recently, 3 Summers; as well as the chapbook, Starlings. This year she is the inaugural recipient of the CD Wright award in Poetry, from The Foundation for the Contemporary Arts in New York. She lives in France.








Hoa Nguyen :: Matrix Mix: Archetypes and Myth

Robert Duncan wrote “Poetry is [a] matrix of surviving, evolving, and changing entities,” and in this workshop we’ll sound-out, and explore ourselves and our writing practices through that tripartite vocabulary of survival, evolution, and change. We’ll work with the matrix and mix of archetypes, myth, fairytales, and folksongs. Writers can expect to read, and write in response to numerous prompts, exercise, and experiments; through this workshop we’ll seek to obtain multiple strategies to create architectures of reality made of words.

Hoa Headshot


Hoa Nguyen is the author of a dozen chapbooks and five books of poetry including: As Long As Trees LastRed Juice: Poems 1998-2008; and Violet Energy Ingots, which was a finalist for the 2017 Griffin Prize for poetry.








Tracie Morris :: Embodying Voice Through Performance (Of The Page)

[Recording Studio]

Uttered poetry precedes poetry on the page by millennia, yet we rarely think about how essential one is to the other when talking about “serious” work. This conventional academic perspective will be challenged and overturned through this experiential workshop. We’ll investigate how voice and page-based writing connect to the body, articulation, rhythm, and to sound itself. Everyday, we’ll write by hand, exploring that first performance of the body and the page. We’ll do physically-enacted exercises and experiments––wear loose comfortable clothing for warm-ups––that connect these two realms of writing. We will be be able make use of the Naropa Recording Studio for several sessions, recording our own work and/or creating in collaboration with one another.  Curiosity in vocal technique, for public speaking (singing is also welcome but not required), and a range of poetic styles is required for full participation in this workshop.

Tracie Headshot


Tracie Morris has been a college professor for over 20 years. She teaches at Pratt Institute in the Performance and Performance Studies MFA program that she founded and designed. Tracie holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Hunter College, CUNY) and a PhD in Performance Studies (NYU). She is co-editor of Best American Experimental Writing 2016 with Charles Bernstein. Her most recent books include, Hard Kore/Per Form (Selected and New) 2017; in English and French joca seria; and “Who Do With Words.” Tracie is also a singer, actor and certified vocal coach. 








Selah Saterstrom & Kristen Nelson :: Divinatory Poetics

In this workshop we will consider what conditions must be present in order to best position our multiple selves in the guts of the flux, all while remaining sentient and oriented towards our most pressing work. Through divinatory methods and experiments, we will generate writing (fiction, poetry, cross-genre), and ritual-installations as a way to engage with our writing-based questions, as well as deepen our practice and contract with our chosen mediums.

Selah Headshot


Selah Saterstrom is the author of the novels Slab, The Meat and Spirit Plan, and The Pink Institution. (all published by Coffee House Press). Her book of essays, Ideal Suggestions: Essays in Divinatory Poetics won the Essay Press Book Prize and was published last fall. She teaches and lectures across the United States and abroad, and is the director of Creative Writing at the University of Denver.

 Kristen Headshot

Kristen E. Nelson is a queer writer, performer, literary activist, LGBTQ+ activist, and community builder. She is the author of the length of this gap; and two chapbooks: sometimes I gets lost and is grateful for noises in the dark; and Write, Dad. Her work appears widely including in Bombay Gin, Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Tarpaulin Sky Journal, Trickhouse, and Everyday Genius, among others.





Trace Peterson :: Poet as Journalist: Affect, Hypervisibility, Erasure, Resistance

Where are poets "reporting from" when attempting to write something urgent or necessary in this state of political emergency which for many of us is also personal? For whom do we want to document phenomena, when in time, how, and why? What roles might our genders, sexes, bodies, and inner life take up as resistance/counter-force when the state tries to make us "fake news," when it tries to erase the existence of marginalized experiences while policing their hypervisibility? In this course we will build radical poetic devices for textual and interpersonal resistance through development of improvisatory writing prompts, collaborative group activities, and contextual-autobiographical readings of poems by Amir Rabiyah, Samuel Ace, Micha Cárdenas, kari edwards, Ching-In Chen, Trish Salah, Stephanie Burt, Max Wolf Valerio, TC Tolbert, Joy Ladin, and other trans and nonbinary authors.

Trace Headshot


Trace Peterson is a trans woman poet, critic, and editor. She is the editor/publisher of EOAGH, which has won two Lambda Literary Awards including the first Lammy in Transgender Poetry. She is co-editor of Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics; and co-editor of Arrive on Wave: Collected Poems of Gil Ott. Her recent work appears in The Best American Experimental Writing 2016; From Our Hearts to Yours: New Narrative as Contemporary Practice; and TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. Since 2015 she has taught an innovative literature course in Transgender Poetry at Hunter College. She has also taught transgender studies / women’s studies at Yale University, and workshops at The Poetry Project at St Marks. Her first collection of poetry is Since I Moved In.







Lewis Warsh :: Coming Up For Air

This workshop will focus on the way autobiography overlaps with fiction, and how the past is fictionalized as a way of keeping it alive. Our writing projects and experiments will include working with secrets, memories, observations, overheard conversations––multiple points of you. We’ll engage both traditional and experimental forms and approaches, and give a close look at the writing of Anna Kavan, Paul Bowles, Clarice Lispector, Jean Toomer, Lydia Davis and Dale Herd, among others. As much time as possible will be spent generating, reading, and discussing our work.

Lewis Headshot


Lewis Warsh’s most recent books include Out of the Question: Selected Poems; Alien Abduction; One Foot Out the Door: Collected Stories; and A Place in the Sun. He is the editor and publisher of United Artists Books and teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at Long Island University (Brooklyn).








Tongo Eisen-Martin :: Let Unity Do The Work

The objective of this workshop is to share strategies for writing and editing poems generated by the idea that your poetry is a part of your one human experience taking place in and revealed by an interconnected reality. The view of craft as component can wall away potential insight and inhibit writing. Writing strategies that flow from the reality that craft does not have to be a metaphysical, separate entity from you strengthens all internal processes of liberation, importantly including your art. From political to unpopulated realities of the world, all continuums of existence can emerge together in a line of poetry within a cooperation to produce insight. You can let the infinite, natural occurring unities of reality do the work for you on the page.

Tongo Eisen-MartinTongo Eisen-Martin is a movement worker, educator, and poet who has organized around issues of human rights and self-determination for oppressed people throughout the United States. His curriculum on extrajudicial killing of Black people titled "We Charge Genocide Again," has been used as a teaching and organizing tool throughout the country. His poems have been published in Harper’s Magazine and the New York Times Magazine. His book "someone's dead already" was nominated for a California Book Award. His latest book of poems "Heaven Is All Goodbyes" was published in the City Lights Pocket Poets Series and is on the shortlist for the California Book Award and Griffin Poetry Prize decided this June. 







April Sheridan :: Call and Response

An artistic practice can be a sturdy shield against social and political climates, but it can also be isolating. Participants in this workshop will sharpen letterpress printing and design skills through reactions to/interactions with our community. We will use two prompts a day, one that nourishes the self, the other that nourishes the community, one will become a poster used as a disruptive social object and the other will be bound into a book.

April Headshot


April Sheridan is a letterpress printer/educator who is interested in the potentially disruptive nature of printed matter. For a decade she managed the studios at the Center for Book and Paper Arts, Chicago. As an advocate for book arts education she has spoken at St. Bride Library, London and at the &Now Conference, CalArts. She is currently a teaching artist at Spudnik Press Cooperative.






Reed Headshot


Dharma Arts: Reed Bye’s most recent publications are Fire for Thought, What’s This, and Catching On. A CD of original songs, Broke Even, 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








Ruth Headshot


SPECIAL GUEST: Ruth Ellen Kocher is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Third Voice; Ending in Planes; Goodbye Lyric: The Gigans and Lovely Gun; and domina Un/blued; which won the 2014 PEN/Open Book Award. She lives in Erie, CO and teaches Poetry, Poetics, and Literature at the University of Colorado–Boulder.






samuel headshot


Samuel R. Delany is the author of over 20 novels including Dark Reflections, Dahlgren, and Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders. His shorter fictions are collected in Aye, and Gomorrah & Other Stories, and in Atlantis: Three Tales. Winner of multiple Nebula and Hugo Awards, as well as the J. Lloyd Eaton Lifetime Achievement Award in Science Fiction, in 2002 Delany was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. He is the author of the collection of essays The Jewel-Hinged Jaw; and the memoir Times Square Red, Times Square Blue. Delany writes widely on the topics of  mythology, memory, language, sexuality, and perception.