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Workshops

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Erica with participant.jpgSince 1999, nearly 1000 emerging poets have participated in Cave Canem’s community-based workshops, rare opportunities to work with accomplished poets for free or low-cost fees. Limited to an enrollment of 12-15, ten-session workshops offer rigorous instruction, careful critique, and an introduction to the work of established poets—all within the welcoming environment of our Brooklyn, NY loft.

 

Fall 2020

Ekphrasis and the Body
Omotara James

Traditionally, an ekphrastic poem describes or gives voice to a visual work of art. When we are moved by a piece of art, we usually experience it viscerally, before we process it intellectually. In other words, we experience art in the body. The body not only houses these experiences, but contains every memory that has shaped us: individually and collectively. The body is also the subject of countless works of art, going back to the cave paintings. Therefore, the body is one of the oldest, most politicized site in history. In this ten-week online workshop, we will work to subvert the traditional definition of ekphrasis as description. In these current times of global upheaval, uprisings and revolution, the question of who gets to determine what we label as art is more relevant than ever. By shifting the artistic gaze, we begin to decolonize the art and photography world. Ekphrastic poetry is a way of confronting the historical politics responsible for the global canon of art. Ekphrastic poems help create a discourse around these works. Sometimes the most political thing one can do is to create room for oneself within the canon: ekphrasis as a means of representation. In this workshop, participants will map the poetics of their identities and experiences with weekly discussions of contemporary poems that explore the body. In combination with visual prompts, in-session writing, and peer-workshops, participants will learn to harness the language and image of the body to craft ekphrastic poetry. Participants will respond to visual prompts that include personal photos and artifacts, modern visual art and sculpture, photojournalism, and music media from popular culture. This workshop will include readings by Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Vievee Francis, Jericho Brown, Phillip B. Williams, and more.

Dates: Wednesday evenings, 6 – 9:00 pm (October – December)

Where: Virtual

Who’s eligible:
  • Adult, New York City-based poets of color at the early-to-intermediate stage of their writing endeavors.
  • Individuals who are not enrolled full-time in a degree-granting program.
  • Individuals who commit to attending all ten sessions.
  • Writers who have not published more than one collection of poetry with a commercial press.

Please note:  This is a 10-week commitment; if you anticipate absence from more than 2 sessions, please do not apply.

To Apply: Please upload a document (with your name on every page) including:

  • Maximum of 5 pages of poems (no more than one poem per page) written in any style.
  • Single-page cover letter that includes a bio and the following information, if applicable: (1) Cave Canem workshops you’ve attended, including instructor and year;  (2) previous publications and poetry prizes; and (3) what you wish to accomplish in the workshop.

Click here to apply. Applications are due September 9, 2020. By submitting your application, you agree to the aforementioned terms of eligibility and commit to attending all ten sessions.

This is a tuition-free workshop. Selection is by lottery, with preference given to applicants who are not Cave Canem fellows and who have attended fewer than three workshops.

Omotara James is the author of the chapbook, Daughter Tongue, selected by African Poetry Book Fund for the 2018 New Generation African Poets Box Set (Akashic Books). Born in Britain, she is the daughter of Nigerian and Trinidadian immigrants and a former social worker, in the field of Harm Reduction. She is a recipient of the 2019 92Y / Discovery Poetry Prize and has received two Pushcart Prize nominations and one Best of the Net nomination. Omotara’s work has received support from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Colgate Writers’ Conference, the Home School and the Academy of American Poets. Her work has appeared in such publications as The Paris ReviewThe ReclusePOETRYThe Academy of American PoetsThe BelieverLiterary HubPoetry Society of AmericaWinter TangerineNo TokensPlatypus Press, and various anthologies. Omotara holds an MFA in Poetry from New York University and a BA in Creative Writing from Hofstra University. She lives in New York City.


Dream/Memory/Ecstasy
Ladan Osman

“Maturity is when you start feeling the motion of time as if it is a sensuous caress.”
—Fatema Mernissi

This workshop explores the language/system of the mind in memory (re)construction, dreams, and in the alternative reality of hallucinations or visions. We will explore artistic, spiritual, and scientific inquiries of self-image making while thinking about how the process of recalling/reconstructing those images encourages a flexible understanding of time. How can we translate the images that stay with us, awake or asleep? How can we recognize and communicate themes that recur inside us? Also, how can we produce artifacts from these explorations?

We will explore poems, writings, media, and other artworks to deepen our understanding of impressions, recollections, and expressions. The end goal is to become familiar with personal imagery banks, to investigate commonalities, and to discuss divergences with higher levels of specificity. This will encourage us to critically and aesthetically engage image systems in our poems, and challenge our obsessions. Materials include poetry by Lucille Clifton, Aracelis Girmay, Dionne Brand, Donika Kelly, and Mahmoud Darwish; films by Joseph Gaï Ramaka, Lucrecia Martel, Walé Oyéjidé, Sunao Katabuchi, Ama Lou, and Mahalia John; photography by Liz Johnson Artur, Nuits Balneaires, and Ming Smith; music by Laura Mvula and Nicholas Brittell; and writings by Jamaica Kincaid and Christina Sharpe.

Dates: Monday evenings, 6 – 9:00 pm (October – December)

Where: Virtual

Who’s eligible:
  • Adult, New York City-based poets of color beyond the beginning stage of their writing endeavors.
  • Individuals who are not enrolled full-time in a degree-granting program.
  • Individuals who commit to attending all ten sessions.
  • Writers who have not published more than one collection of poetry with a commercial press.

Please note:  This is a 10-week commitment; if you anticipate absence from more than 2 sessions, please do not apply.

To Apply: Please upload a document (with your name on every page) including:

  • Maximum of 5 pages of poems (no more than one poem per page) written in any style.
  • Single-page cover letter that includes a bio and the following information, if applicable: (1) Cave Canem workshops you’ve attended, including instructor and year;  (2) previous publications and poetry prizes; and (3) what you wish to accomplish in the workshop.

Click here to apply. Applications are due September 9, 2020. By submitting your application, you agree to the aforementioned terms of eligibility and commit to attending all ten sessions.

This is a tuition-free workshop, funded by The Jerome Foundation. The instructor will review applications and select up to 15 participants, with preference given to individuals who are not Cave Canem fellows and who have attended fewer than three workshops.

Ladan Osman is a Somali-American writer and filmmaker. She’s the author of Exiles of Eden and The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony, winner of a Sillerman First Book Prize. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Lannan Foundation, and the Fine Arts Work Center. Her first short film (co-directed), Sam Underground, profiled the 2020 American Idol. Osman’s next film projects are love letters to artists and their cities. She lives in Brooklyn.

 


Funder, New York City Fall and Spring Workshops: Jerome Foundation

Funders, Poetry Conversations Workshops: This program is funded in part by Poets & Writers through public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; Amazon Literary Partnership; conEdison Consolidated Edison Company of New York; National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Whiting Foundation.

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