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Our everyday lived experiences, even in their most benign, are rich in poetic imagery and existential metaphor. The coffee pot in the morning, the conversations with friends, the show you have been shamelessly binge watching, all serve as material worth creative examination. How do we translate that to the page? Furthermore, how do we translate that to the page well?
In this 3-week workshop, we will draw on the legacy of confessional poetry to investigate the craft of writing from experience or the poetic “I”. Our goal will be to expand upon a literary canon that engages with the self in powerful ways and learn to use those methods in our own work. Together, we will hone our skills of description, imagery, rhythm, punctuation, and critical analysis. A sub-focus of the workshop will be to create a daily “writing practice” through various writing exercises, both ancient and experimental.
We will read poets such as Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Lucille Clifton, John Keene, Maggie Nelson, Bernadette Mayer along with Danez Smith, Franny Choi, and Ocean Vuong. Classic critical theory such as Foucault, Barthes, and Baudrillard are integrated into the lessons. We will also take inspiration from other art forms such as visual art, film, and music.
This workshop will be a space for generating, refining, and communing around writing. A typical session will begin with a writing prompt and time for sharing, followed by a reading discussion. We may watch a video clip of an experimental documentary, listen to a jazz arrangement, or analyze a surrealist painting. We will focus the first session on generating work, the second on refining and revision, and the third on wider implications of personal writing. At the end of the three sessions, you can expect to have at least one polished piece and the tools to continue and deepen your practice.
You do not have to identify as a confessional poet to take the workshop. The only requirement for participation is a notebook, an open mind, and a love for language. Writers from all backgrounds, styles, and genres are welcome.
Micky Bayonne (they/them) is a poet and educator whose work explores themes of identity, place, disaster, and ecology. Originally from Louisiana, they hold an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in Poetry. Micky is the current Provost Visiting Writer in Poetry at the University of Iowa.
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