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The Brave New Work: Writing Inspired Poetry

The prescient poet and feminist Audre Lorde once wrote, “It is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are – until the poem – nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt… The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.”

It is no wonder then that in these first turbulent decades of our new century, there has been an explosion in American literature of profoundly inventive women poets.

In this class, we will draw from the examples of their brave new work to create our own. The selected texts by Franny Choi (Soft Science), Natalie Diaz (When My Brother Was An Aztec), Patricia Lockwood (Motherland, Fatherland, Homelandsexuals), and Claudia Rankine (Citizen) – touch on such broad-ranging themes as technology, genocidal violence, mythology, rape culture, and police brutality. They show how writers use form, scheme, language, voice, and sound to create works of art that not only thrill, but also awaken and enlighten us.

We will use our reading and related prompts to create and refine our own poetry of this strenuous and strange 21st century.

Instructor: Michelle R. Smith is a writer, educator, cultural facilitator, and native Clevelander. She is the programming associate for Literary Cleveland and a working artist for Lake Erie Ink. She is the author of the poetry collections Ariel in Black (2015) and The Vagina Analogues (2020). She has been published in poemmemoirstoryMeridians: feminism, race, transnationalismThe Normal School, and The Gasconade Review. She has been a featured reader, instructor, and panelist at The Lakewood Public Library, The East Cleveland Public Library, The Cuyahoga County Public Library, The Cleveland Museum of Arts, Cleveland Drafts – Brews + Prose, PNC Fairfax Connection, Case Western Reserve University’s Writers House, and Literary Cleveland’s Inkubator Conference. She is also the creator, co-producer, and director of BLAX MUSEUM, an annual performance showcase for Northeast Ohio artists open to all forms and dedicated to honoring notable black figures in American history and culture. Michelle’s favorite novelist is Toni Morrison, and she splits her “favorite poet” title between Ntozake Shange, Sylvia Plath, Victoria Chang, and Saeed Jones.

Details: The Brave New Work: Writing Inspired Poetry takes place on Tuesdays May 4, 11, 18, & 25 from 6:00-8:00pm remotely through Zoom.

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