Beyond Beauty: Poetry as Expansion and Resistance


Workshop meets over four Sundays:

  • Sunday, July 11, 12:00-2:00 pm CT
  • Sunday, July 18, 12:00-2:00 pm CT
  • Sunday, July 25, 12:00-2:00 pm CT
  • Sunday, August 1, 12:00-2:00 pm CT


  • Tuition: $100
  • Location: Zoom virtual workshop
  • Deadline: Registration closes Sunday, July 11, 11:30 am, CT

Tution Assistance Available!

Beyond Beauty: Poetry as Expansion and Resistance


From Poe’s assertion, “'The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world,” to John Keats’s enigmatic reflection, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” the voices of the conventional literary canon return, again and again, to Beauty as a cornerstone of poetic work. We are told that our poems’ success is always in conversation with Beauty, to be found in everything from our subject matter to our word choice to the human body itself. This class pushes back at the primacy of Beauty in all its forms, giving us room to reclaim, resist, or even reinvent our relationship to the capital B in this aesthetic category. What kinds of poetic topics, poetic forms, and human lives exist in Beauty’s shadow?

Looking to poets like Carmen Giménez Smith, who writes, “I liked my poetry to smell like I had forgotten my deodorant,” we challenge ourselves to push beyond poetic Beauty as we’ve come to know it. The subjects and styles we are taught to see as Beautiful often reveal their own unspoken political and historical assumptions buried in our aesthetics. Through readings, writing exercises, and workshop discussion, we will both expand the category of Beauty to include people and topics too often left out of poems, as well as explore the way that aiming beyond Beautiful language can fold exciting textures, necessary truths, and raw humanity into our poetic lines themselves.

Guiding Texts include:

Carmen Giménez Smith, Ross Gay, Kim Hyesoon, Morgan Parker, Joyelle McSweeney, Layli Long Soldier, Anaïs Duplan, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Julia Kristeva, and more


Jessica Lawson (she/her/hers) is a Denver-based writer, teacher, and activist. Her debut book of poetry, Gash Atlas (forthcoming 2021), was selected by judge Erica Hunt for the Kore Press Institute Poetry Prize, and her chapbook Rot Contracts appeared summer 2020 (Trouble Department). A Pushcart-nominated poet, her writing has appeared in The Rumpus; Entropy; Dreginald; Yes, Poetry; The Wanderer; Cosmonauts Avenue; and elsewhere. She is currently at work on her second book project, a portrait of bodily vulnerability at the intersection of poverty, sex, and trauma. 


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