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Reunion Workshops

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As part of the 25th Anniversary Reunion, Cave Canem fellows, alumni, and faculty are invited to register for one-session workshops. Workshops are scheduled for Monday, June 14 through Friday, June 18, and will be hosted 11am-2:30pm ET on Zoom.

Workshop descriptions are below and include general workshops (for poets wishing to workshop poems they’ve already written) and generative workshops (for poets wanting to produce new work). Instructors include Camille Dungy, Vievee Francis, Airea D. Matthews, Lenard D. Moore, Tracie Morris, Harryette Mullen, Carl Phillips, Ed Roberson, and Patricia Smith.

Poets may enroll in 1-2 workshops, and should use this form to select their first, second, third, and fourth workshop preference. Enrollment will be determined on a first come, first served basis. (For example, if a registrant’s first and second choices have reached capacity, they will be placed in their third preferred workshop.) Starting June 7, Cave Canem staff will be in contact to inform registrants which workshop they will join.

 

Monday, June 14 (11am-2:30pm ET)

General Workshop
Ed Roberson
Participants submit poems ahead of time to be workshopped in session.

General Workshop (FULL)
Patricia Smith
Participants submit poems ahead of time to be workshopped in session.

Generative Workshop
Vievee Francis
Description forthcoming.

The interiority and creative visualization: access to practice
Tracie Morris
How does the body, particularly the Black body, compose itself? In this generative workshop, we’ll use creative visualization, editing, and performative techniques to get to new aspects of creative practice and page-based work. This is an experiential, class with some moderate physical components so wear loose, comfortable clothing for part of the work.

 

Tuesday, June 15 (11am-2:30pm ET)

General Workshop (FULL)
Harryette Mullen
Participants submit poems ahead of time to be workshopped in session.

General Workshop
Carl Phillips
Participants submit poems ahead of time to be workshopped in session.

Testing the Thought: Re-Vision as Critical and Communal Practice (FULL)
Airea D. Matthews
This workshop offers a process and critical strategies for literary revision. It focuses on the historical reconstructive practices of Roman authors at the end of the republic and offers a contemporary approach to re-visioning as a form of social agency and active collaboration. Participants will experiment with a poem of their choosing and implement a process that allows for a re-imagined text—free of the initial constraints and impositions of the draft. 

To Make a Poem Dance on the Page
Lenard D. Moore
What objects or sayings connect us to our hometowns? How does the culture identify and illuminate this particular place? What tales, myths and truths emerge when the poet explores such territory? Are there specific elements that lend themselves to capture our hometowns in a compelling way? How do we document our experiences? In this workshop, participants will read the work of poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Sharon Olds, A.R. Ammons, Joy Harjo, Kimiko Hahn, Cornelius Eady, and Toi Derricotte, though probably not all of them. We will discuss certain poems. Then participants will write their own poems in different poetic forms. We will read them. There will be peer review and workshop leader feedback. If time permits, we will also discuss revision.

 

Wednesday, June 16 (11am-2:30pm ET)

General Workshop
Camille Dungy
Participants submit poems ahead of time to be workshopped in session.

Bricks and Stitches: Patterns and Poems: A Generative Workshop (FULL)
Carl Phillips
One definition for poetry is “patterned language, meaningfully interrupted.” With that in mind, we will look at how repetition works as a poetic strategy, the risks of repetition, and the possibilities that emerge from knowing when to break the pattern. After some discussion of the varieties of repetition, we’ll put what we’ve learned into action and write our own poems.

Generative Workshop
Patricia Smith
Once you realize that your writing is not simply a recreational activity, that it’s utterly necessary in order for you to move yourself from day to day with some level of sanity, you will undoubtedly feel drawn to craft poems that absolutely no one wants to read or hear. For instance:

  • There’s the poem about the hollow you feel after the loss of someone you love, something you love, or just love itself. Or that poem about that thing in your history that makes you so strange. (Who wants to hear about your sad little life?)
  • There’s the poem that tries and tries to make sense of our current hot societal slop. Another Trump sonnet? (You’re running out of shades of orange.) Triolets as tales of the trigger-thrilled? Yet another white supremacist pantoum? Corona as persona? Endless elegies? (Who wants to hear—again—about our sad, violent little lives?)
  • The elusive “2020, what a year, huh?” poem that hopefully staunches her newfound habit of bathing in grain alcohol and screaming into your cupped hands. (Again—your sad little life.)

This workshop will chronicle all the ways there are to handle the most difficult, oft-tackled poetic topics in ways that stun you and captivate your reader.

 

Thursday, June 17 (11am-2:30pm ET)

General Workshop
Vievee Francis
Participants submit poems ahead of time to be workshopped in session.

General Workshop (FULL)
Airea D. Matthews
Participants submit poems ahead of time to be workshopped in session.

Starting from Scratch: Out of Nothing Comes Something (FULL)
Harryette Mullen
No matter how long we have been writing, composing a new work can feel like starting from scratch, as if we’d never written before. Facing the blank page can seem like beginning with zero. However, if you’ve ever practiced meditation, and tried to clear your mind of stray thoughts, you know that the mind is never blank or empty. Even as we sleep, our minds are creating, composing dreamscapes. The uneasiness of that frozen moment, when staring at a blank page, subsides in the moment that we start to write, when congealed thoughts thaw and words begin to flow.

In this generative workshop, we will discuss the matter of beginning anew, along with basic “recipes” for starting from scratch. We will practice several different exercises that writers can use when facing the blank page, in order to speed the transition “from nothing to something.” Although the dictionary definition of “from scratch” states that no ingredients or materials are prepared ahead of time, it is useful, for this workshop, to have at hand a notebook, writing tool (pen, pencil, etc.), dictionary, newspaper or magazine, a favorite poetry collection or anthology, and any other interesting books you enjoy browsing.

From Merriam-Webster Dictionary: To create something from scratch is to make it without any ingredients or materials prepared ahead of time. The scratch in from scratch originally referred to the starting line of a race “scratched” into the ground, from which all runners would be starting without a head start.

 

Friday, June 18 (11am-2:30pm ET)

General Workshop
Lenard D. Moore
Participants submit poems ahead of time to be workshopped in session.

General Workshop
Tracie Morris
Participants submit poems ahead of time to be workshopped in session.

Black and Green and Bold
Camille Dungy
In this generative workshop, we will practice ways to write poems that celebrate the greater than human world even as they are honest about the social and environmental perils facing us today.

New Poems from Old Aesthetics (FULL)
Ed Roberson
Time and cultures have proven elements of what makes poetry,
or, poem proofs of what elements poetry is to be constituted.

But, the proofs, not as poems, but as dictums, as rules, are tired, old, boring,
and outdated –– as the new and young are wont to say.

So, if we are the new, our poetry has to come up with, or at least be
new and of our time proof that our language is poetry. We want

 to not turn over, make new, or to displace, but to stand up as poetry.
There is a difference.

In this workshop, we poets gonna rattle,    all the old terms,
bring it on.