ClassThe Art of History: Poems Engaging the Past
"Poetry is a political act because it involves telling the truth," June Jordan wrote. But the stories we receive about history are riddled with silence, absence, and distortion. So what exactly does it mean to tell the truth about history in poems?
The complexity of writing history both poses challenges and offers possibilities for our writing. Guided by texts from poets including Robin Coste Lewis, Layli Long Soldier, Suji Kwock Kim, Rita Dove, Natasha Trethewey, and Sharon Olds, we will consider poets' diverse strategies for working with the past. Students will write poems that engage with histories of various scales—personal histories, community histories, global histories, imagined histories.
Class time will be divided between workshop (50%), in-class writing (20%), and reading and discussion (30%). You can expect weekly writing prompts, craft discussions at the intersection of form and politics, and the chance to workshop two poems. You will come away from the class with drafts of 5 poems (including 1 revision), specific techniques for revising your own work, and strategies for writing about history.
Students will be responsible for a $5 fee to cover the cost of photocopying course materials. This class is best suited for poets with a sustained writing practice.