24PearlStreet Workshops and Events

Ocean Vuong The First Step Backward: Memory as Creative Force Poetry February 1 to February 5, 2016 Number of Participants: 12 Price: $500 Format: 1 Week Asynchronous Workshop

This new intensive course will examine the myriad ways in which memory works on the artistic practice. You will investigate the ways in which the body, memories, and scars are living relics of the past, seeking to honor past moments while learning from them new ways of composition. Ultimately, you will look at memory as a potent creative force of the now.

This course will examine the myriad ways in which memory works on the artistic practice. We will ask questions and complicate the aged concept of “linear time,” permitting ourselves to explore memory on our own idiosyncratic terms, one where the past is perpetually a part of who we are and how we create. Our very bodies are living relics of the past, their scars healing only to announce themselves as thick, vibrant moments of a lived life. We will seek to honor them as well as learn from them new ways for composition. What would happen if we allow ourselves to lie, extrapolate, and trouble our personal truths? The hope is to offer to ourselves a more forgiving and malleable exploration of the past, with all its joys, terrors, and beauty, in ways that privilege not replication–but discovery.

Ultimately, we will look at memory not merely as a concept of recollection, but a potent creative force of the now. Even when we feel we have nothing to say, we have lived and have seen through our bodies, and when the past is allowed to emerge into the present, it, and we, will inevitably speak.

Following the class, each student will receive a detailed email about their work, with ideas about moving forward.


Ocean Vuong is the author of Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). A 2014 Ruth Lilly fellow, he has received honors from Poets House, The Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and a 2014 Pushcart Prize. His poems appear in Best New Poets, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, Poetry, Tri-Quarterly, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the 2012 Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he lives in New York City.

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