Naropa University 2018 Summer Writing Program

Gimme Shelter


As we think about how to continue writing through the disaster of The Capitalocene––and what it means to be truly contemporary with our time––the urgency of the task is clear: to make the world otherwise than this brutal economy and world-system. However, where to locate the forms of agency that might avail to see us through to new forms of life is more of an open question. We know that art alone is not revolution, and yet we still home in on its emergent possibilities to be the unpredictable event that propels, sustains, transforms, to be at once “essence, science, and vision…our magic weapon to create and recreate the world and our selves as a part of it,” as Amiri Baraka argued at a past Summer Writing Program (and argues still in the archive). This search for agency and collective action will inflect our time together––our temporary community, troupe, band, cell, and assembly.  We’ll explore the possibilities for new social forms in experimental performance and poet’s theatre, in the underground bookstore (and reading group) as a site for the committed study and imagining upon which the work of art and lived social critique depends. We’ll test the open question that writing always is through experiments with the line, the sentence, the song, the bodies that articulate them all; we’ll listen and abide with one another in conversation and debate, always staying open to the happy accident of collective work, the shock of recognition in the new friend, that is the ground and pleasure of collaboration. And through it all––and continuing–––we’ll take the final imperative and urgency of Jackson Mac Low’s “Social Project 2” as our signal energy, desire, dream: “FIND A WAY TO END WAR // MAKE IT WORK”    


Dawn Lundy Martin :: Information Overload: Resisting The Technological Present & Creating New Futures

The disciplinary apparatuses of the state have taken forms of which we are newly aware. They watch and document under the auspices of providing safety for citizens. We, in turn, provide almost everyone with excess access to what we do, who we believe ourselves to be, and what we think. Is counter documentation possible? What does it mean to attempt to speak against power? What narratives, forms, languages, gestures, and means toward performance can help us create future selves liberated from the overabundance of record? In this course, we will work toward anti-dossiers that resist totality and imagine new heretofore unimagined futures.

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Dawn Lundy Martin is a poet, essayist, and conceptual-video artist. She is the author of four books of poems: Good Stock Strange Blood; Life in a Box is a Pretty Life, which won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry; DISCIPLINE; A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering; and three limited edition chapbooks. Her nonfiction can be found in The New Yorker, Harper's, and elsewhere. Martin is Professor of English in the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh and Co-director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics. 





Anne Waldman :: Restless Utopias

“That has no hope of the world and cannot change the world to its delight.” -- William Carlos Williams

This workshop will invoke writing apotropaically as antidote to the technologies of control. How do you want to live? Inside perpetual cryptosystems with cryptomoney? “Wake up with Alexa?”(the domestic robot).  Government in the sense we have understood it with all its downsides seems moot.  Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are the new centers of power. Where is the poet and artistic community in all this? We will invoke Donna Haraway’s “oddkins” and her sense of The Chthulucene (times of the chthonic). We’ll keep company with Gary Snyder’s “Buddhist Anarchy,” and Fred Moten & Stephen Harney’s The Undercommons, as well as Bernadette Mayer’s Utopia, and my own volumes Manatee/Humanity and Trickster Feminism. We will look at historical artistic communities: Black Mountain; The Poetry Project at St Mark’s; Naropa University; and The Nuryorican Café.  What poetry will we write and sing and sign for the next 100 years?  Underground, or as cyborgs, or on Mars? We will write our Utopias with the practices of investigative poetics, collaboration, empathy, divination.

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Anne Waldman is a poet, performer, professor, editor, cultural activist is a cofounder with Allen Ginsberg of the Jack Kerouac School and former director of The Poetry Project at St Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery.  She is the recipient of the Shelley Memorial prize, the Pen America award for 1000 page The Iovis Trilogy and the Before Columbus Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the author most recently of Jaguar Harmonics; Voice’s Daughter of A Heart Yet To Be Born; Extinction Aria; and Trickster Feminism to be published this year by Penguin.  She performs and works around the world, most recently at Jaipur Literature Festivals in India and Boulder, 2017, Casa de Lago, Mexico City 2017, and POETAS, Madrid 2018.








Rodrigo Toscano :: A Poetics of Face Time

Politically aimed performance is not about doing kooky extroverted things, or adding bells & whistles to texts. It rather begins as a clear-headed apprehension of the potentials of distributive meaning making between speakers and listeners as continuously refreshed by words themselves. Words act as the relays between brain-to-brain and Brainhead. Brainhead can be thought of as a commons of proposed social values resonating in the present moment. Asshead, is the ceaseless quivering of nervous energy that live bodies bring to a space. We will work towards toggling the two heads into overtly calibrated poetics by way of unpacking the forces inherent in our own texts as well as in others. 

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Rodrigo Toscano is the author of 8 books of poetic works including Collapsible Poetics Theatre, which won the the 2007 National Poetry Series; and most recently Explosion Rocks Springfield. Spanning genres from poetics theatre to prose poetry, his work has been anthologized in Diasporic Avant Gardes, Imagined Theatres, In the Criminal’s Cabinet, Earth Bound, and Best American Poetry. He has worked for the Labor Institute (United Steelworkers) as project director for 19 years, working on educational / training projects that involve environmental and labor justice, health & safety culture transformation, and immigrant worker rights. He lives in New Orleans. 






Thurston Moore ::  OUT, DEMONS, OUT!

A workshop focused on the elevated and activist poetics from a constellation of underground twentieth century writers and musicians: British writer Anna Mendelssohn (aka Grace Lake). Taking her inspiration from the Paris student risings in May 1968, Mendelssohn became a political radical in Britain; she was convicted of conspiracy to cause explosions as part of The Angry Brigade, a ruling she insisted was unjust. After her release she raised a family, resumed her education and devoted her life to art and to poetry. d.a. levy: American writer, artist and publisher based in Cleveland; levy would become infamous for losing himself in the search for infinity discovering an important spiritual outlet in Buddhism, and publishing like-minded poets via his Renegade and Seven-Flowers Press. Sun Ra composer and poet, born in Birmingham Alabama although ultimately originating from Saturn. Sun Ra wrote poetry extolling the consciousness of the universe to ring true to the belief all poets are to be angels. The Fugs (Tuli Kupferberg, Ed Sanders, Ken Weaver, Lee Crabtree and others) the group of American  avant-folk rock troubadours comprised of radical poets; we’ll look at their work leading up to the 1967 “levitation of the pentagon” from whence the mantra “out, demons, out!” comes.

As a workshop we’ll leap into the vortex and creative worlds of these poetic activists and artists; we’ll keep notes and quotes, and write creative responses, in poetry, prose, lyrics, scripts for performance––any and all other maverick texts inspired by the worlds we encounter in these underground histories.

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Thurston Moore moved to NYC at 18 in 1976 to play punk. He started Sonic Youth in1980. He edited the music and literary fanzines KILLER, Sonic Death, and Ecstatic Peace Poetry Journal and started the Ecstatic Peace records + tapes label. He has worked collaboratively with Yoko Ono, Merce Cunningham, Cecil Taylor, Rhys Chatham, Lydia Lunch, John Zorn, Takehisa Kosugi, Glenn Branca and Mary Jane Leach. He has composed music for films by Olivier Assayas, Gus Van Sant, and Allison Anders. He presently records and tours both solo, with various ensembles and with his own band who’s most recent recording is Rock n Roll Consciousness. He is senior editor of Ecstatic Peace Library, the poetry imprint Flowers & Cream and has edited books at Rizzoli and Abrams. His own writings have been published through various imprints. Since 2011 Thurston Moore has been He has been on faculty at the Naropa University summer writing program. He resides in London.






Steven Taylor :: Songworks

[Recording Studio]

We discuss various genres of song, drawing upon the seminal 1950s Folkways Anthology of American Folk Music and our own preferences in music. Starting day two, we are a band. Each member develops an original song with the group. During the week, we make studio recordings. At the end of the week, we put on a show. No prior experience required. 

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Steven Taylor has been a member of The Fugs since 1984. He holds the PhD in ethnomusicology from Brown University. He is currently recording the songs of William Blake as set by Allen Ginsberg and himself, and is editing a book-length conversation between Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs entitled Don’t Hide The Madness.









Aaron Cohick :: Underground/Public

[Harry Smith Printshop]

The printshop is a space of articulation and collaboration, where vision & voice can unite and be distributed out into the world. This workshop will be about poetic possibilities: of a visual and material text, of time and space, of collaboration, and of the printed word-image as a kind of public art. Participants will use simple and direct experimental letterpress techniques to create a series of collaborative broadsides to exist in a multiplicity of public spaces.

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Aaron Cohick is a letterpress printer/artist/publisher based in Colorado Springs, CO. His work focuses on the intersection of technology, experimental writing, and artists’ publications. He is the founder and proprietor of the NewLights Press, and is also the Printer of The Press at Colorado College.









Julie Carr & Gesel Mason :: Confrontation/Conversation: Writing & Moving Our Bodies Into Action

In this class, we will explore collaborations between dance and text, or more broadly, writing and performance in which the conversation/confrontation between bodies is activated and agitated. Through reading, watching, writing and moving we will both study and practice the long and continuing history of bringing the written word into contact with the moving body, and bringing the performing body into public and/or political action. Readings will include works by Peggy Phelan, Ralph Lemon, Marina Abramovic, among others. Screenings will include videos by Okwui Okpokwasili, Bill T. Jones, David Rousseve, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, William Pope.L, and others. Students will be asked to participate in a range of practices and actions, and to invent some of your own. The week will conclude with each student creating a performance that brings text and movement together.

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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 three critical prose and experimental essays: Surface Tension: Ruptural Time and the Poetics of Desire in Late Victorian Poetry; Objects from a Borrowed Confession; and Someone Shot My Book. Carr’s co-translation of Leslie Kaplan’s Excess-The Factory is due out from Commune Editions in 2018, as is a mixed-genre work, Real Life: An Installation is With Tim Roberts, is the co-founder of Counterpath Press, Counterpath Gallery, and Counterpath Community Garden in Denver. She was a 2011-12 NEA fellow and is an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder in the English department and the Intermedia Arts Writing and Performance.
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Gesel Mason is Artistic Director for Gesel Mason Performance Projects and Assistant Professor in Theatre & Dance at CU Boulder. She was a member of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Ralph Lemon/Cross Performance Projects. Mason utilizes dance, theater, humor, and storytelling to bring visibility to voices unheard, situations neglected, or perspectives considered taboo. Her most recent choreographic project, antithesis, utilized the work of Audre Lorde to challenge how female sexuality is perceived, performed and (re)presented. 







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Robert Spellman, a student of Naropa University’s founder Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, has practiced and taught Buddhist meditation and art for forty years. 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 has been on Naropa’s faculty since 1993 in the Visual Arts, MFA Theater, and graduate Religious Studies programs









MFA LECTURE: Serena Chopra