The University of Arizona Poetry Center- Spring 2017 Course Descriptions and Scholarship Information


Spring 2017 Course Descriptions and Scholarship Information
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Poetry Center Spring 2017 Course Descriptions and Scholarship Information

The Classes & Workshops program offers 6 Classes for Spring 2017. Enrollment opensDecember 6, 2016. We’re pleased to announce the classes now, and to present the course descriptions here below and on our web site. Please review and enroll beginning December 6.

Seats in class are reserved for 4 scholarship recipients each term. The four Campau/Inman Scholarships are awarded on the basis of need and cover the entire tuition of any single class. Selection is by lottery, and the Scholarship Applications may be submitted beginning now, and through January 11, 2017.

Basic course information:

Disorienting the Essay: Finding Form in Personal Nonfiction, with Katherine E. Standefer. 1/23-3/30. Learn more.

Ecopoetics & Your Next Poem: A Weekend Workshop, with Brenda Hillman. 1/28-1/29. Learn more.

Outsider Literature: Writing from the Urgent Edges, with Robert Snyderman. 2/13-3/27. Learn more.

Documentary Storytelling in Prose, with Lisa O’Neill. 3/22-4/26. Learn more.

Writing Resistance and Recovery, with Hoa Nguyen. 3/25. Learn more.

Oracular Writing: Living Images, with Annie Guthrie. 4/8-5/13. Learn more.

Registration will be available online only, at the Poetry Center’s Submittable page, beginning December 6, 2017. If you do not have a credit or debit card, or for another reason cannot pay online, contact Brian Blanchfield at (520) 626-3765 or If you need assistance in selecting the right course for you, don’t hesitate to contact Brian and he will be glad to advise you.

For more information about whether you qualify for the Campau/Inman Scholarship, and for a link to the simple online application, please visit our Scholarships page.

Class meetings: Eight Mondays, 6-8pm, from January 23 to March 20, 2017 (excluding March 13), in the University of Arizona Poetry Center Alumni Classroom 205.

What is the best way to tell a given story? How can we press form to enlarge, deepen or propel the stories we tell?  What levers are there to pull? In this introductory prose course, we’ll read across the creative nonfiction spectrum, from longform journalism to lyric essays, from narrative memoir to hermit crab essays, exploring how the same story might be told in different ways. Together, we’ll discuss craft elements like chronology, creative research, and narrative distance, considering how these drive the structure and possibilities of a work. Weekly readings will include work by nonfiction writers whose methodologies and practices will be instructive.

Central to this class is a group workshop, each participant submitting an essay of their own for feedback and providing comments on their peers’ work. Through in-class writing, lively conversation, and independent revision, participants in this class will excavate, chisel, and transform their own stories, dynamically seeking the form their personal narratives want to take.

Class Meetings: Three sessions: Saturday, January 28, 10am-Noon and 2-4pm; Sunday, January 29, 1-3pm, in the Poetry Center Alumni Classroom Room 205.

January in Tucson brings many species of birds coming through, and the microseasons of the desert are numerous. Are the thrashers and cactus wrens louder, and are the mockingbirds possessed of mid-western accents? Surely the Catalinas are clearer when there is less mining to the south of town; what is elsewhere known as winter is a time of blossoming and unfolding. Yet, for all the joys of our noticing, we find ourselves in a time of ecological peril under a new administration, facing political changes that may not bode well for species or land.

In our two-day workshop, we will be thinking about our surroundings, about how reading and writing inventive poetry that challenges our notions of what constitutes the “nature poem” can aid our relationships to the environment. We will start with an optional social gathering on Friday night, and on Saturday and Sunday, we will present new ecological poems, read from an ecopoetics anthology, enter notes in our journals, and encounter some of the flora and fauna. As a participant, you will be asked to cross boundaries of what you think nature poetry is. For the first Saturday session, you should bring copies of a new daring poem—one that has yet had no readers; it can be inspired by your reading (reading suggestions will be forthcoming.) We will discuss poetry from a perspective of our own environmental concerns and study the work of poets who have addressed ecological issues in their bioregions, questions of poetic form, ideas of nature and spirit and so on. For the subsequent sessions, you’ll be asked to write new work arising from our discussions.  Please obtain The Arcadia Project (eds. Corey and Waldrep, Ahsahta Press, 2012) and please bring this book to the workshop.
Class Meetings: Six Monday evenings, 6-8pm, February 13 to March 27 (excluding March 14), in the Poetry Center Conference Room 207.

“Outsider Art” or “Art Brut” entered Western cultural consciousness in the early 70s to value works of visual art produced in isolation, or in environments (often institutions) unlikely or hostile to the arts. These works profoundly challenged pre-conceived notions of tradition, training, and audience, yet also reflected many similar aesthetic and ethical impulses of the Avant-Garde. The works expressed subversive and deeply innovative representations of everyday life, often from a radically humble, deprived, or oppressed source.

In this dual workshop-seminar we will explore this tradition specifically in literature, including fiction, poetry, song, and text-based visual art. We will expand the notion of “Outsider Art” to incorporate those who must alter what art is and what art is for in order to make it within their inherited environments and burdens. Through our own original prompted writing, and through discussion of a survey of “outsider literature,” we will consider the relationships between innovation, limitation, and censorship. Works among laborers, traditional healers, the incarcerated, genocided, disabled, and gender queer will prompt ethical and aesthetic conversations, as well as open opportunities for participants to begin writing projects that might reconsider the stakes and methods of composition and distribution. It will be our job not to imitate, but rather to learn from and take seriously what “outsider” practices mean to the writing life.

Class meetings: Six consecutive Wednesdays, 6-8pm, from March 22 to April 26, 2017, in the University of Arizona Poetry Center Conference Room 207.
While most people think of film when they hear documentary, writers have long been documentarians of their time. They draw not only from their own experiences but also from the culture, people, and places that concern and interest them in order to investigate, curate, and create meaning. In this six-week nonfiction writing course, we will think about and practice what it means to document. We will read journalistic pieces, essays, prose poetry, and hybrids of these by authors committed to documenting, analyzing, and reflecting on the times they live in—authors like Joan Didion, James Baldwin, Lauren Redniss, Maggie Nelson, Sarah Stillman, Claudia Rankine, and others.
All nonfiction writing is rooted in the self because the “I”—or eye—decides the angles explored, the questions asked, the lenses used, the information included or discarded, the subject matter and voices included. Our backgrounds, identities, and areas of interest and expertise determine what and how we write. Rather than strive for neutrality—which is itself a construct rooted in who has power, authority, airtime in a culture—we will acknowledge and address the subjective in documentary writing, engaging the more challenging work of situating the self.  We will become documentarians: practicing research and reporting methods and embarking on “gonzo” missions, and experiments of documentation in different forms, to generate writing. We will explore the ways in which research, interviews, and external source material can enliven our work by adding context. Students will generate writing and workshop one piece generated during the course.
Class Meeting: Saturday, March 25, 12pm-2:30pm, Poetry Center Conference Room 207.
In this two-and-a-half-hour workshop seminar, we will struggle with and confront history, place, and possession(s) as we form creative answers to how works of art may act as a practice of resistance and recovery.  As we engage modes and invite entry into enhanced receptivity to creatively address what Fred Moten calls modernity’s socio-ecological disaster, participants in this workshop will become familiar with and enact multiple creative writing strategies and go home with even more suggestions and prompts to enact future writing.
This is also a workshop that will “work” and our works will take shape via reading, listening, visualizing, and interacting as we develop in-class writings and arrive at a shared critical vocabulary. The workshop will include revision strategies, critical poetic terms and concepts, plus a bibliography of texts and author names for future reading.

Class Meetings: Six consecutive Saturday mornings, 10am-12:30pm, April 8 to May 13, in the Poetry Center.

Writers are in the business of raising images: from memory, from the dead, from the subconscious, from dreams, from the collective conscious, from the imagination, from art, from physical and metaphysical experiences.

Images contain information that can guide us in how to proceed in our writing projects.  They contain histories, archetypal symbology, biological context, they reveal perceptual, metaphorical, and emotional orientations.  An immersive, contemplative relationship with the images that make up our writing/days will, in many cases reveal a pathway to creation and completion.

In this class we will experiment with and investigate the images in our work and in our lives, validating them as just leaders and wise containers, practicing revision and new writing through the constraints that they suggest and by the ways that they provide.

Oracular Writing is a method of writing rooted in principles of observation, inquiry, receptivity, and encounter.  Working the principles, students will engage in thought-experiments and “missions” in order to generate new work.  This class is purely generative and offers immersive experiential writing that offers a view of writing as a continuum, rather than as a product or achievement.  More laboratory than workshop, this class emphasizes experiential critical thinking and rigorous practice/play, emphasizing the self-in-world aspects of artistic practice. All artists, writers and thinkers welcome.
Copyright © 2016 The University of Arizona Poetry Center, All rights reserved.
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1508 E. Helen St.

Tucson, AZ 85721


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