Poetry as Activism and Social Change: A Generative Workshop

Saturday, May 25, 2019 - 10:00am to 2:00pm

Class Meeting: Saturday, May 25, from 10:00 PM - 2:00 PM (half hour for lunch), in the Poetry Center Conference Room 207

Registration opens April 15, 2019 at 11 AM. REGISTER HERE

The Nation posted an article on August 20, 2018 titled, “Poetry Is Everywhere,” with the subheading, “Far from “going extinct,” as it was once predicted, poems are viral, vital—and invincible.” The power and impact of poetry is on the rise, as a way for our nation to turn inward to understand our social, political, and economic inequities. On a panel, poet and professor, Joshua Bennett, talked about the state of dis-information in the political life of the United States. He said, “Either we are doing the work of making a better world, or we are doing something else.” What does it mean to be a poet in the current climate of our nation? What does Bennett mean by “doing something else”? Poets and artists by intrinsic nature look beyond the veil of what is, to expose the seams necessary for social change. Do poets have an obligation to call failed systems and structures into question? Is poetry activism? If so, what makes poetry activism? This generative workshop will consider the role that art, and specifically poetry, plays in activism and how the necessity of voice in poetry is prevalent now, more than ever. We will read and discuss poems designed to challenge, upheave, and disrupt the status quo, from poets such as Terrance Hayes, Jennifer S. Cheng, Tommy Pico, Claudia Rankine, Eduardo C. Corral, and Danez Smith. Workshop exercises will explore voice as a powerful instrument of social change, leveraging the page as an expression of social consideration or deconstruction, reclaiming language and poetic forms to the individual and the marginalized, and viewing a single poem as part of a larger conversation in poetry. Generated poems will be workshopped in dyads and in small groups through at least two short, round-robin methods for greater touch-points of consideration. Come ready to talk, ready to write, ready to interact, and ready to explore poetry as an art of activism.