Self-Portraits: Describing, Naming, Transforming
In this workshop, we will consider how the self-portrait as form/mode in poetry can lead to surprise and discovery when working with autobiographical material. We will discuss the powers and possibilities of “self-portrait with…” and “self-portrait as…” We will investigate the border between self-portrait and persona poem. Models will include poems by Nico Amador, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Aracelis Girmay, and Eduardo Corral. Visual art will also guide and push us to reimagine what it means to describe, name, and transform a self.
Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, the GLCA New Writers Award, and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. The collection was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and named one of the best of 2017 by The Brooklyn Rail, Entropy, Library Journal, and others. His work has appeared in many publications, including Poetry, Tin House, Poem-a-Day, The Best American Poetry, Bettering American Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Chen earned his MFA from Syracuse University and PhD in English and Creative Writing from Texas Tech University. He lives in frequently snowy Rochester, NY with his partner, Jeff Gilbert and their pug dog, Mr. Rupert Giles. Chen is the 2018-2020 Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University.
Trying on Another Poet’s Clothes
Sometimes trying on another poet’s “clothes”—their voice, their diction, their vocabulary, the way they make lines and sentences, even the look of the poem on the page—frees us up to write things excitingly different from what might ordinarily have occurred to us. It’s like a visit to another poetic world, and we return afterward to our own voices refreshed and invigorated. In this generative workshop, we’ll give a close reading to one of the great love poems of the 20th century, William Meredith’s “The Illiterate,” which uses a very specific rhetorical structure. Then we’ll look at two poems by other poets that perform riffs on Meredith’s poem, and finally we’ll write our own variations, exploring how wearing different clothes can take us on unexpected journeys.
Patrick Donnelly is the author of four books of poetry, Little-Known Operas (Four Way Books, 2019), Jesus Said (a chapbook from Orison Books, 2017), Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin (Four Way Books, 2012), and The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003, since 2009 part of Copper Canyon Press), which was a 2013 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Donnelly is director of the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place, Robert Frost’s old homestead in Franconia, NH, now a center for poetry and the arts, and he has taught at Smith College and Colby College. Donnelly’s translations with Stephen D. Miller of classical Japanese poetry were awarded the 2015-2016 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. Donnelly’s other awards include a U.S./Japan Creative Artists Program Award, an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and a 2018 Amy Clampitt Residency Award.
The The Way to a Poet’s Creativity is Through The Ear
Creativity can’t be easily controlled, but it can certainly be influenced. In this generative workshop we’ll take a few tidbits from modern neuroscience and put them to good creative use. Starting with a homolinguistic translation of a short poem, we will create our canvas. We will re-work our translated poems under the influence of music and work toward a new ability harnessing factors outside ourselves to get the neurotransmitters firing in a different way. Working with our created material we will experiment with different music and auditory cues.
Maudelle Driskell, who lives in Franconia, New Hampshire, is the executive director of The Frost Place. She holds an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College and is the recipient of the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, awarded by Poetry magazine and the Modern Language Association. Her first poetry collection, Talismans, was published by Hobblebush Books in 2014. She was a featured poet at Vanderbilt University’s Millennial Gathering of the Writers of the New South. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Kenyon Review, CAIRN, New Orleans Review, All Shook Up, The Made Thing, The Cortland Review, and Inch, among others. She is a past winner of the Pablo Neruda Award for Poetry in Translation and the Agnes Scott Writer’s Festival chosen by Eavan Boland, and many others. Driskell volunteers with poetry and arts organizations and serves on several boards.
The Art of the Unsaid
What is off the page in a poem is often as important as, or more important than, what is on the page. For example, in conversation, we often glean more of what is being said by noticing the unsaid: body language, tone of voice, rhetorical style, which topic is avoided or which word repeated; in other words, we read between the lines. In a poem, we also read between the lines, building an off-the-page narrative by connecting far-flung images, words and phrases, line to line, and by sifting, adding, combining and synthesizing the visible and invisible parts of each line as we read. How and why does a poem leave things out? How do we construct meaning in poems without all the information? In this workshop we will use readings and generative exercises to explore the unsaid as it relates to interpreting, enjoying, and/or making sense of a poem.
Joan Houlihan is the author of five books of poetry, most recently, Shadow-feast (Four Way Books, 2018). Other books include Hand-Held Executions: Poems & Essays (2003); The Mending Worm, which received the 2006 Green Rose Award from New Issues Press; The Us (2009) which received a Must-Read distinction from the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and Ay (2014), a sequel to The Us, both from Tupelo Press. In addition to publishing in a wide array of journals, including Boston Review, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Arts, Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, Plume and Poetry, her poems have been anthologized in The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (University of Iowa Press, 2005); The Book of Irish-American Poetry, 18th Century to Present, (University of Notre Dame, 2007); The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins, (Clemson University Press, 2016), and The Eloquent Poem: 128 Contemporary Poems and Their Making (Persea Books). She has taught at Columbia University, Emerson College and Smith College, and she currently serves on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is Professor of Practice in Poetry at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Houlihan founded and directs the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.
Header photo ©2018 by Lindsay Elitharp