Week One Workshops and Faculty
Documentary Poetics Interface Between Writing & Research
Documentary Poetics is not owned or claimed by any particular poetry “school.” It looks to the past and the future, not being a product of conceptual poet-modern consciousness. One might do research on the latest computer or find gems in dusty libraries and used bookstores; there are annals in the strange offices and sub-basements and attics of the mind. Investigation, scholarship, sousveillance, dream, nightmare, endangered species/cultures/languages that need reclamation. Family histories, lineage trees, the possibilities are exciting and myriad. What needs our attention and a writer’s hand as we hunker down with our various and sundry projects?
Charles Alexander and Cynthia Miller: Find, Set, Print, Act, Sing!
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Naropa University, and considering the “Documentary Poetics Interface” theme of the week, our project in the Print Shop will have multiple characteristics. First we will find, through research in the Naropa Library and through our own resources, shards of writing by Naropa “elders” such as Joanne Kyger, Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Robert Creeley, Chogyam Trungpa, Jack Collom, and Robert Duncan. As we gather work, we will consider the role of these writers, and of Naropa, in transformations of American poetry and poetics of the last four decades. We will proceed to combine these shards of writing to what we might call a “grand collage,” set them by hand, and print them on the Vandercook Press, working with artist Cynthia Miller on design and possible illustration. If time allows, for our presentation to the larger Naropa congregation, we will create a performance of our work that may be either dramatic or musical or both. The workshop will be an engagement of creativity in sight, sound, and intellection.
Charles Alexander is an artist, poet, bookmaker, and founder/director of Chax Press. Author of 5 full-length books of poetry and 10 brief chapbooks of poetry, editor of one critical work on the state of the book arts in America, author of multiple essays, articles, and reviews. Most recent book of poetry is Pushing Water, published by Cuneiform Press. Some Sentences Look for Some Periods, a chapbook, has just been released by Little Red Leaves. Has taught literature and writing at Naropa University, University of Arizona, and elsewhere. Currently at work on Collected Essays and a new book of poetry. He is a past recipient of the Arizona Arts Award, and has been chosen to participate in the TAMAAS Poetry Translation Project in Paris. He lives in Tucson, Arizona, with his partner, the painter Cynthia Miller.
Cynthia Miller holds degrees from the San Francisco Art Institute and the University of Arizona. She co-founded Dinnerware Artists Cooperative, served on the Tucson Pima Arts Council Board of Directors and the Boards of Chax Press and Tucson Poetry Group (POG), She creates paintings and installation sculptures with forays into the commercial art world, including illustration for books and music media. Recent work includes original art for poster design for the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival and the Dreaming New Mexico Project. Recent exhibitions include New Paintings at the Cue Art Foundation (New York City), participation in Bridges, an Exchange Exhibition with artists, and a show at the Temple of Music and Art Gallery in Tucson, Arizona. She is represented by Etherton Gallery. A teaching artist for over twenty years, she has taught at the Tucson Museum of Art School, the University of Arizona Extended University, Arizona International College, The Learning Curve , and The Drawing Studio. She has received the Distinguished Arizona Artist Award, an Arizona Commission Individual Painting Fellowship, and a Diamond Addy award for Country Music album art design from the Nashville Advertising Federation. Her work is in the collections of Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson International Airport, J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles, and many private collections.
Dodie Bellamy: Poetry and History
There are endless examples in which contemporary poets are addressing history, both personal and collective. The use of historical material in poetry allows us to speak of absence and the hidden; to reinvent archaic mindsets; to embrace erasure, collage, and cut ups. Poetry can translate the past into new dialogues. Be it angry or pleasure centered or even frivolous, when our poetry looks beyond the personal, it gains depth and resonance and social purpose. To expand our poetic tool kit, we will practice a range of document-based formal strategies used by authors such as Sergio González Rodriguez, Ariana Reines, Stacy Doris, D.A. Powell and David Trinidad, Linh Dinh, Donna de la Perriere, Douglas Kearney, Yedda Morrison, Eileen Myles, N. NourbeSe Philip, Steve McCaffery, and William Burroughs.
Dodie Bellamy is a novelist, poet, critic and cultural journalist. Her most recent book, from Les Figues, is Cunt Norton, a conceptual project that takes the second edition of the Norton Anthology of Poetry and sexualizes it in the language of porn and desire. Her chapbook Barf Manifesto was named best book of 2009 under 30 pages by Time Out New York. Other books include the buddhist, Academonia, Pink Steam, The Letters of Mina Harker, and Cunt-Ups, which won the 2002 Firecracker Alternative Book Award for poetry. With Kevin Killian, she is editing the Nightboat anthology New Narrative: 1975-1995. Forthcoming from Ugly Ducking is The TV Sutras, a cross-genre text about cults and charismatic bedazzlement. Semiotext(e) is publishing When the Sick Rule the World, her third collection of essays, stories, and memoirs. The press will also issue as a chapbook her reflections on the Occupy Oakland movement, “The Beating of Our Hearts,” in conjunction with the 2014 Whitney Biennial. She teaches in the writing programs at Antioch Los Angeles, California College of the Arts, and San Francisco State.
Lee Ann Brown: Poetry in the Arc Hive
What is your obsession? How will you manifest the complexities of what you witness in poetry? How do poets use research in different ways than scholars do? How can we redefine the archive? What is the relationship of documentary and archive? If honey is poetry, and we are the bees, what are the forms of our new hives? In this workshop, we will get busy engaging with texts, tools, and questions of the relationship between archival research, methods and implications of direct documentation, and sampling and remixing as tools for poetry. Encounters with others’ works will be central to our explorations of new possibilities for poetry put forth by new tools and modalities. This workshop will emphasize the creation of daily new work, as well as a theorizing and practical planning for our own future extended poems as systems of knowledge and investigation.
Lee Ann Brown’s recent books of poetry include In the Laurels, Caught (Fence Books) and Crowns of Charlotte (Carolina Wren Press), a project for North Carolina. She is co-editor of Far from the Fields of Ambition (Lorimer Press), a tribute anthology for Black Mountain College,and is founding editor of Tender Buttons press. Collaborations include Bagatelles for Cornell with Karen Randall (Propolis Press), Sop Doll: A Jack Tale Noh and The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, a song cycle based on her rewritten ballads and hymns. Poems have recently appeared in The Brooklyn Rail and Underwater New York and in anthologies, Sonnets: Translating and Rewriting Shakespeare, Not for Mothers Only: Contemporary Poems on Child-Getting and Child-Rearing and I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women. She has had poetry fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The Howard Foundation, and The Fund for Poetry and residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Djerassi Artists Residency, Yaddo, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Rocky Mountain Women’s Institute and Foundation Royaumont. Lee Ann Brown has an MFA from Brown University, and is now Associate Professor of English at St. John’s University. She was born near Tokyo, Japan, raised in Charlotte, NC, and lives in New York City and Marshall, NC.
Rebecca Brown: Documenting Our Monsters
The word “monster” shares an etymology history with “demonstrate;” the monster we see or write demonstrates or shows us not only itself but something else and bigger – a warning? a mark of being special? a lesson in how to survive? In this workshop, we will create new work generated by mining and fictionally “documenting” the monsters or losers lurking, thriving, gnarling through our memories, dreams, subconscious, family stories we’ve heard, texts we’ve read and god knows what else. We will look at internal and external sources that gave rise to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in order to inspire the creation of our own reality based but weirder, stranger and larger than life verbal monsters.
Rebecca Brown is a writer, visual artist and curator. Author a dozen books published in the US and abroad, Brown’s books include American Romances (City Lights, 2009, winner of the Publishing Triangle Award); The Last Time I Saw You; The End of Youth: The Dogs: A Modern Bestiary; Annie Oakley’s Girl; and The Terrible Girls (all with City Lights) and The Gifts of the Body, (HarperCollins). Her Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary was published by Granta (UK), University of Wisconsin Press (USA) and Asahi Shimbun, Japan. Her altered texts and installations have been exhibited in the Frye Art Museum, Hedreen Gallery, and Simon Fraser Gallery (Vancouver, BC). She has been awarded a Stranger Genius Award, Boston Book Review Award,Pacific Northwest Booksellers ‘Award, Lambda Literary Award and (twice) the Washington State Book Award. She co-edited, with Robert Corbett, Experimental Theology, (Seattle Research Institute, 2003) an anthology of responses modern views of God and godlessness, and with Mary Jane Knecht of the Frye Art Museum, Looking Together: Writers on Art (University of Washington Press).
Brown wrote the libretto for The Onion Twins, a dance opera in collaboration with Better Biscuit Dance and has collaborated with numerous other dancers, musicians, theater and visual artists. She has taught and lectured in the US and abroad and is currently Artist in Residence at University of Washington, Bothell, and on the MFA in writing faculty at Goddard College, Vermont.
Julie Carr: Outside / Outside Myself There is a World”: Writing Through Public Feeling
In this class, we will examine some key texts that fall under the category of “affect theory.” These text argue, in various ways, that emotions are not private, personal, or even individual, but that they are instead, shared, public, and therefore always political. We will read poets who seem to engage with this concept of “public feeling,” and we will pursue research-based writing projects and experiential exercises that trouble the borders of self and other, of inside and outside, and of private and public. Theoretical texts will include excerpts of works by Jennifer Doyle, Lauren Berlant, Judith Butler, and Fred Moten. Poetry texts will include works by C.D. Wright, Rob Fitterman, M. NourbSe Philip, Susan Howe, and Heimrad Backer.
Julie Carr is the author of five books of poetry, most recently 100 Notes on Violence, Sarah-Of Fragments and Lines, and RAG. She is also the author of Surface Tension: Ruptural Time and the Poetics of Desire in Late Victorian Poetry. She lives in Denver and teaches at the University of Colorado. With Tim Roberts, she directs Counterpath Press and Counterpath Gallery.
Kevin Killian & Norma Cole: The Desiring Effect
Documents—not only finding them but putting them together—how? What is occasion, what motivation? Do we move towards an outcome, or in rhythms? Suturing, tacking, pasting and sculpting not only literary texts, but film, light and sound, food, garbage; the senses and gestures. In response to the deaths of our friends—Bay Area poets Stacy Doris, Leslie Scalapino, kari edwards and Barbara Guest—the two of us took their words and created a theater work called Afterglow (2013). We will be reading their writing, as well as something from Adam Frank’s About Time: Cosmology and Culture at the Twilight of a Big Bang, the poetry of Rae Armantrout, and the stories of Ray Bradbury. And bring to the class the documents of your trip “here” to Naropa for the first week of SWP 2014, and we’ll act all these documents out by the end of the week. We use documents pretty much as the alchemists of old used elements—to hasten the desiring effect, to return life to the inanimate.
Kevin Killian, one of the original “New Narrative” writers, has written three novels, Shy (1989), Arctic Summer (1997), and Spreadeagle (2012), a book of memoirs called Bedrooms Have Windows (1990), and three books of stories, Little Men (1996), I Cry Like a Baby (2001), and Impossible Princess (2009). He has written three books of poems, Argento Series (2001), Action Kylie (2008), and Tweaky Village (2014). With Peter Gizzi, Killian has edited My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer (2008)—which won the American Book Award—for Wesleyan University Press. Wesleyan also published Killian and Lew Ellingham’s acclaimed biography Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance in 1998.
Born in Toronto, Canada, poet, painter & translator Norma Cole moved to France in the late’60s. Returning to Toronto in the early ‘70s, she migrated to San Francisco in 1977, where she has lived ever since. Her most recent books of poetry include Win These Posters and Other Unrelated Prizes Inside, Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988—2008, Spinoza in Her Youth and Natural Light. TO BE AT MUSIC: Essays & Talks made its appearance in 2010 from Omnidawn Press. Her translations from the French include Danielle Collobert’s It Then, Collobert’s Journals,Crosscut Universe: Writing on Writing from France, and Jean Daive’s A Woman with Several Lives. Actualities, her collaboration with painter Marina Adams is forthcoming from Litmus Press. She has been a contributor to SFMOMA’s blog Open Space.
Cole has been the recipient of awards from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry, the Fund for Poetry, the Creative Work Fund, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Cole has taught at many schools, including the University of San Francisco, Saint Mary’s, and San Francisco State, and was a Regents’ Lecturer at UC Berkeley.
Thomas Sayers Ellis: The Short Unhappy Marriage of Image and Info
If photography is a way of seeing, then it might follow that writing is a way of thinking, full of equally arousing decisive moments that blur the lines between documentation and aesthetic practice. In this workshop, we will search the interiors of photographs (and the exteriors of sight/research) in an attempt to discover and explore the samenesses and differences between scientific looking and poetic knowledge. The students will bring 5 small images to workshop, preferably ones that have no relation of authorship to the student. We will read writing by photographers, writers, and poets who have committed their passions to destroying the false boundaries between visual and written expression, as well as those who able to make one serve the other with organic and deceptive, technical flare. There will be handouts, odd objects, and consonant removal surgery!
Photographer and poet Thomas Sayers Ellis received a MFA from Brown University in 1995. He is the author of Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems (Graywolf Press, 2010) and his first collection The Maverick Room (Graywolf Press, 2005) was awarded the John C. Zacharis First Book Award. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Open Door, Tin House, Grand Street, Poetry, The Nation, and Best American Poetry (1997, 2001, 2010). He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award and has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Fine Arts Work Center, and Yaddo. He teaches in the low-residency Creative Writing Program at Lesley University and has worked as a photographer for UFCW Local 342 in New York City. His photographs and photo essays have appeared in Poetry, American Poet, The Massachusetts Review, Jubilat, and Transition. His exhibitions include “(Un)Lock It: The Percussive People in the GoGo Pocket” (The Gallery at Vivid Solutions in Washington, D.C.); “D.C. As I See It” (Leica Store/Gallery); and “Go-Go Swing” (The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities). Mr. Ellis is the Poetry Editor of The Baffler and currently a Visiting Writer at the University of San Francisco where he teaches in the Graduate Writing Program.
Kyoo Lee: Cogitøgraphy 3.0: Thinking-Writing-Reading … Still?
Thinking-writing-reading forms certain triceps of the mind, as performatively vocalized in The Tale (1980) by Meredith Monk, where the last line, “I still have my philosophy~” loops back into the first, “I still have my hands~” via the piano-player who hehahos her way in and out as if born tickled. This daughter laughter fuels the text that weaves and waves itself out of itself, leaving that Latinic ego modernly undone—or redone. Indeed, at the end of the day, “how can it be denied (quâ ratione posset negari) that these hands and this body are mine?,” as one queries in The Meditations (René Descartes, 1641), in passing. What, now? What next? Turning to such auto-bio-graphic “stillness,” this course looks into that “zero point/degree” of auto-documentary zones, for which poets are said to be “always headed” (Durs Grünbein, “Outline of a Personal Psycho-Poetics,” 2010). How and where does research become re-search and vice versa; when does one stop/restart in this universe of embodied minding? Unpacking the tripartite dynamics of cogitøgraphy, we will try and “work it out” while working through an organic mix of theoretical essays on those (t)issues, which will also help us explore our own cogitøgraphic traces and trajectories.
Kyoo Lee, the author of Reading Descartes Otherwise: Blind, Mad, Dreamy, and Bad (2012), and a co-editor of WSQ (Women’s Studies Quarterly) on “Safe” (2011) and CPR (Critical Philosophy of Race) on “Xenophobia & Racism” (2014, forthcoming), is Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York, where she teaches a wide range of courses at all levels, intro and doctoral; from Modern European Philosophy to Classical Chinese Philosophy; from Critical/Feminist/Gender/Justice/Race Theories to Neuro-phenomenological Theories of Reading. An accidental beneficiary of a blended education topped with a dual doctoral training in Continental philosophy (Warwick Univ., PhD) and literary theory (London Univ., ABD), she writes and lectures widely in the interwoven fields of the Arts & the Humanities, and her current projects include three separate, strangely related books on Daodejing (Laozi), The Passions of the Soul (Descartes), and The Second Sex (Beauvoir), along with an expository monograph on what she terms “Xenoracism.” Also a translingual reader of all things poetic as well as prosaic, since 2002 she has been a member of Poetry Translation Center based in the UK, where she collaborates on translating Korean poems into English among others.
Dawn Lundy Martin: Information Overload: The Perversity of Knowing
The disciplinary apparatuses of the state have taken forms of which we are newly aware. They watch and document under the auspices of providing safety for citizens. We, in turn, provide almost everyone with excess access to what we do, who we believe ourselves to be, and what we think. Is counter documentation possible? What does it mean to attempt to speak against power? What narratives, forms, languages, gestures, and means toward performance can help us create future selves liberated from the overabundance of record? In this course, we will work toward uncovering the effects of surveillance on writing and imagine strategies for refusing those effects. Together we will generate anti-dossiers that resist totality and information accumulation (secret or other).
Dawn Lundy Martinis the author of A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering (2007), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize; Discipline(2011), selected by Fanny Howe for the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize; Candy (Albion Books 2011); and the forthcoming Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (Nightboat, 2104). She is the co-founder of the Third Wave Foundation in New York, a member of the Black Took Collective, and is an associate professor in The Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh.
Farid Matuk & Susan Briante: Data Fields & Power Grids
In this workshop, we will look to the archival and the corporal, to external documents as well as to the meticulous recording of our lived experiences. Taking our inspiration from poets as diverse as Olson and Mayer, we will attempt to not only “dissect the web” as Rukeyser calls it, but to locate our place within it. We will explore research methods (archival investigation, field-notes, sampling, collecting) as well as forms that foreground these methodologies. Throughout the week, we will also consider how the singular lyric subject can register, recontextualize, and resist all manner of data.
Farid Matuk is the author of This Isa Nice Neighborhood (Letter Machine, 2010), recipient of a 2011 Arab American Book Award, finalist for the Norma Farber First Book Award, and chosen by Geoffrey G. O’Brien for the Poetry Society of America’s New American Poets series. Matuk is also the author of several chapbooks including, most recently, My Daughter La Chola (Ahsahta, 2013). New poems appear in Third Coast, Iowa Review, Poets.org, Critical Quarterly, The Baffler, and Denver Quarterly, among others. He serves as contributing editor for The Volta and poetry editor for Fence. He lives in Tucson and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Arizona.
Susan Briante is the author of two books of poetry: Utopia Minus (Ahsahta Press, 2011)and Pioneers in the Study of Motion (Ahsahta Press, 2007). Of her most recent collection, Publisher’s Weekly writes: “this book finds an urgent language for the world in which we live.” Briante also writes essays on documentary poetics as well as on the relationship between place and cultural memory. Some of these can be found in Creative Non-Fiction, Rethinking History, Jacket and The Believer. A translator, Briante lived in Mexico City from 1991-1997 working for the magazines Artes de México and Mandorla. She has received grants and awards from the Atlantic Monthly, the MacDowell Colony, the Academy of American Poets, and the US-Mexico Fund for Culture. She is finishing work on a new collection of poems, The Market Wonders, inspired by the current economic crisis. Briante lives in Tucson, where she works as an associate professor of creative writing at The University of Arizona.
Ariana Reines: Marguerite Hardass Birth Chart Sessions
Named, in cloying good humor, to honor of the rigor of Marguerite Duras, you and I will work out some important themes starring the heavenly fact of your birth. The course will read 10-15 pages of your writing against what the French call “your sky.”
Ariana Reines is the author of The Cow (Alberta Prize), Coeur de Lion, Mercury, Thursday, and TELEPHONE, a play, commissioned by The Foundry Theatre in 2009, with two Obies. She has made performances for many venues, including The Museum of Modern Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Swiss Institute, and Le Mouvement Biel (Switzerland), and has translated three volumes from the French. Recent teaching at University of California Berkeley (Holloway Lecturer), Columbia University, and The New School; new writing in ADULT, The Boston Review, and Harper’s. She practices astrology in Queens.