The Poem and Its Shadow
Sometimes it seems we spend our lives trying to write the same poem over and over. Bring such a poem. We will workshop it the first session and spend the rest of the week writing shadow versions of this same piece daily. We will use a variety of formal possibilities, from documentary to concrete to closed form, and look at many contemporary poets as launch pads. You might end up loving your first version of the poem. You might end up more unsettled. You might find the version you’d been waiting for on Tuesday. You might realize you have a book where you thought you had a single poem. You will regardless leave with a ton of ways to generate the poems you write from here on out. The conversation around your pieces will be formal, yes, but also political. What role does the poem have in its historical moment? What is its moment? What does it want to do in the world? Who is it speaking to? Who is it speaking for? All formal decisions are bound in ethical ones and will be treated as such. Courage and will in approaching your work and each other are required.
Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Solmaz Sharif holds degrees from U.C. Berkeley, where she studied and taught with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and New York University. Her debut collection Look (Graywolf Press) was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award and 2017 PEN Open Book Award. In 2017, Sharif was the recipient of the 27th annual PEN Center USA Literary award in Poetry for Look. Sharif has published poetry in the New Republic and Poetry, and has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.