Naropa University 2018 Summer Writing Program

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If not another long century of capital’s hegemony, if not the extension of this era of mass incarceration, if not the hospital as fulcrum for profit rather than care, if not land as a maze of borders, reifications, extractions, occupations, if not the climate turned into an engine of extinction and against inhabitability, then the other side of the forest. But what paths, actions, and strategies will signal the way, take us there. How We Get Free, is the title of the recent, crucial history of the Combahee River Collective, and remains a driving question. How can we extend the essential work done by the black feminists of that anti-racist and anti-capitalist intentional community? What are the lessons to be drawn and sustained from the Occupy movement, from the water protectors of Standing Rock, from the free schools and networks of mutual aid that emerge, flourish, and often disappear. And what can writing (and other cultural forms) add to the energies and bodies solidarity must assume for us to find ourselves survival-dancing on the other side of the forest.

In Robert Pogue Harrison’s Forests: The Shadow of Civilization, he speculates that poetry, and the work of poets may yet come to seem a decisive act of preservation, and “safe-keeping” of essential human values in the face of climate disaster with all its attendant extinctions, erasures and disappearances–– and almost immediately the image of Cecilia Vicuña’s precarios come to mind as images precisely from that other side of the catastrophe. We’ll think about the possibilities of somatics and sentences, and other technologies for expression, for summoning, for envisioning; we’ll hold together as a community and collective trusting in the chance of inspiration, in the possibility of the temporary autonomous zone if not utopia proper––can you see the tree-line?       



Anne Boyer :: How To Go From

"However solid things appear, let me prove that even these are porous…" ––Lucretius  

This is a workshop in change. Starting with literary form as an instrument of our own changed minds, we will experiment with words and sentences, metabolism and materiality, time and space, too. We will think together about the forms inherent to existing as bodies, the forms particular to historical circumstance, and the forms we have not yet been allowed. My hope is that we can learn through our investigations how to transmute this to that or conjure out of anything whatever it is we might need. We will read both poetry and prose and write both or either as necessary.

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Anne Boyer's latest book is A Handbook of Disappointed Fate, a collection of essays and fables about love, death, poetry, and other impossible questions, published this year Ugly Duckling Presse. Before that, she wrote a book of poetry called Garments Against Women. She is currently finishing a book about cancer, care, and having a body inside of history called The Undying., and which will appear from FSG in 2019. She is the winner of the 2018 Cy Twombly Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. She teaches literature, philosophy, and writing at the Kansas City Art Institute.





CAConrad :: Occult Poetics & (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals

We will investigate how occult and paranormal experiences and practices of poets in the past show us the way to trusting these same forces are also alive and at work for us today.  Each student will be given a crystal at the beginning of the week which we will use to build poetry rituals for translating tree and plant languages and for entering dream portals.  Poetry that speaks with dirt and water, revealing the music connecting us, showing us how to tip our lives in the direction of building, nurturing and sharing more than we take and destroy our planet. 

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CAConrad's 9th book is titled While Standing in Line for Death.  Among their other titles is The Book of Frank which is now available in 9 different languages.  They have received fellowships from Pew, Lannan, Banff and RADAR, and their book ECODEVIANCE won the 2015 Believer Magazine Book Award.  Publishers Weekly says, "Conrad consistently surprises, and few, if any, American poets are doing more visionary, disorienting, and wonderful work today."






Duriel E. Harris  :: Toward A Revolution We Can Live For–––

[Recording Studio]

Attuned to and inspired by the vitalizing and transformative powers of play, dance, and the work in utterance, in this workshop we will create digital audio pieces animated by, what South African performance/installation artist/curator Khanyisile Mbongwa calls, a revolution we can live for. Exploring sound’s capacity to permeate, pervade, and charge environments and bodies, we will work with the interplay of voice, sound, and digital technology to create works for performance and/or installation. Further, Call & Response Ensemble’s “Experiments in Joy” and Liz Lerman’s Format for Critical Response will be adapted as essential frameworks for the generation of new work.  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. Our focus will center on the differential poetic event.

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Duriel E. Harris is a poet, performer, and sound artist; she is the author of No Dictionary of a Living Tongue, Drag and Amnesiac and coauthor of the poetry video Speleology. Current undertakings include “Blood Labyrinth” and the solo performance project Thingification. Harris is an associate professor of English in the graduate creative writing program at Illinois State University and the Editor of Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora.








Cedar Sigo :: Strategies for Dailiness

How does the quality of dailiness show up in our writing? Does simply dating our work provide safe passage for the next piece? How does this willingness to date our material color its content? The poet Joanne Kyger once described her own practice as pertaining to “the local, the ordinary, the non-motivated sense of just being.” This approach leaves the poet open to many varieties of writing, Political rant, diary, collage…so the tracking of time becomes the stitch that holds a sequence together. We will address these risks through our reading of a wide range of “daily” poets including Sei Shonagon, Anne Waldman, Larry Eigner, James Schuyler, Lorine Niedecker and others. We will read through these writers aloud together, learn a bit about their lives and make new work––everyday–– based on our findings, and thereby make every day new.

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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 editor of There You Are: Interviews, Journals, and Ephemera, on Joanne Kyger. He is the author of eight books and pamphlets of poetry, including: Royals; Language Arts; Stranger in Town; Expensive Magic; and two editions of Selected Writings. He has taught workshops at St. Mary’s College, Naropa University, and University Press Books. He lives in Lofall, Washington.









Dan Beachy-Quick :: Economy Of The Dark Wood

In the middle of his life, Dante get lost in a dark wood. I hear in that word other words, the bewilderment of homonyms: wood, wold, word, would, world. The hidden estrangement in those syllables reveals interconnections otherwise occult—that wandering and wondering, ethics and phenomena, all are related. We will enter into such confusions to find out how we might, through poetry, renegotiate the terms of the easier economies of art, desire, life. Reading will be necessarily eccentric—Dante to Keats, Plato to Hejinian, Thoreau to Anacreon. Fusing together the ancient and the contemporary, our writing will emerge from these immersions.

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Dan Beachy-Quick is a poet and essayist, author most recently of a collection of essays, fragments, and poems, Of Silence and Song. Some of this other books include: North True South BrightSpell; Circle's Apprentice (Winner of the 2011 Colorado Book Award in Poetry); Wonderful Investigations; and This Nest, Swift Passerine.  His work has been supported by the Lannan and Guggenheim Foundations, and he teaches in the MFA Program at Colorado State University.




Margaret Randall :: “This Machine [of Words] Kills Fascists”

Nothing combats fascism like art! Where is the other side of the dark forest, and how do we get there in these dangerous times? What paths, actions, and strategies signal our way, and nurture our greatest creative power for holistic healing? We’ll study some extraordinary voices of resistance—Adrienne Rich, Richard Vargas, Mary Oishi, Janice Gould, V.B. Price, Daniel Borzutzky, and others––to gain insight in how writing can be a form of political insight and action. Through the workshop we’ll explore our own pathways for writing and activism, build our own impenetrable barricades.

Margaret Randall


Margaret Randall lived in Latin America for 23 years (Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua). When she came home in 1984, the government found her writing subversive and ordered her deported. She beat the charge in 1989. Randall has more than 100 published books, and in 2017 received Chihuahua’s prestigious Medalla al Mérito Literario.







Tonya Foster :: Activating the Afterlife

In this workshop we’ll engage the theme of “ephemeral archive,” and seek to create a space for improvisation & play through writing & listening; we’ll build collections, and forge new work from our ephemeral collectivity. We’ll interact––in real-time––with artifacts, archives, objects and footage; we’ll write through and experiment with a whole spectrum of forms and genres in order to conjure up, and consider the “afterlives” of objects, of racialized histories, of ancestors, and of our own experiences. We’ll try inhabit and write from the “ephemeral archive” as an intimate, active, constructed, and constructivist space; we’ll write and think towards what Jose Esteban Munoz calls “affective reimagination,” and indeterminate play, a joining of past and present in view toward possible futures.    

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 Tonya M. Foster is the author of A Swarm of Bees in High Court, and coeditor of Third Mind: Creative Writing through Visual Art. A poet and scholar, her writing and research focus on ideas of place and emplacement, and on intersections between the visual and the written. She is the recipient of awards from the Mellon and Ford Foundations, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Macdowell Colony. Tonya is an Assistant Professor of Writing & Literature at California College of the Arts, and is completing a PhD in English at the Graduate Center at CUNY. She is a maker of exquisite gumbos, red beans and rice, and citrus pound-cakes.








Julia Seko :: Letterpress Spaces: Radical Envisioning Through Type

[Harry Smith Printshop]   

Get your hands dirty by constructing typographical autonomous zones, letter by letter. Students will learn about design and the basic techniques of letterpress printing.  We’ll create community by setting type, mixing ink, folding paper, and running machinery, and surprise ourselves with what comes off the presses. 

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Julia Seko is a letterpress printer, book artist, and proprietor of P.S. Press.   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. 









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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 40 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.






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SPECIAL GUEST:  Andrew Schelling is a poet, essay writer, land-use activist in the American West, and translator of poetry from the classical Sanskrit. His recent book, Tracks Along the Left Coast: Jaime de Angulo and Pacific Coast Culture, is a folkloric account of wilderness encounters, linguistics, poetry, medicine power, and creation tales. Forthcoming from Shambhala Publications is a volume of Bhartrihari, poet & linguist of seventh century India. Schelling teaches at Naropa University






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MFA LECTURE: Mairead Case