Poetry is a vital force for resistance and creating change, but how do we channel our rage? How do we reclaim language structures, break bonds, and move our audiences towards a potential for bettering our collective society?
In this workshop, we will examine poems that construct resistance to the powers that oppress us— this could be an internal structure in the form of the poem, subversions of hierarchical texts, visual or graphic intrusions, speaker positioning, overt or subtle — all in the goal of exploring how we, as literary citizens, confront, engage, and depose our oppressors?
Poetry is a tool in many cultures to allow spaces for dissent, and many poets have lost or risked their lives simply to cultivate that nuanced space. Think about that for a moment. What many of us post in a tweet could imprison us were we but born in another location. What does resistance look like—feel like—-sound like— here in America? At this moment in time? Where does it fall short? How do we push it further? We may examine the work of Douglas Kearney, Tommy Pico, Joy Harjo, Myung Mi Kim, Kwame Dawes, Harryette Mullen, CA Conrad, Eileen Miles, Jorie Graham, Elizabeth Bishop, Natalie Diaz, Arielle Greenburg, and/or Danielle Pafunda. Please bring a poem of resistance that you can read to the group (or show live performance of, etc.).
If you have some of your own resistance writing, then you can bring that too, but I ask that you bring the work of a poet you admire to share. If you are simply curious about how to engage this process, then come ready to inquire deeply into these texts. Ideally, students will leave with fresh concepts for their writing explorations.
Bevil Townsend, formerly published under Ellie Tipton, is a poet, feminist, and political junkie––sometimes in reverse order. She has written two books of poetry, Birdsong & Buckshot: An Elegiac Echo and One Hell of a Woman. Her work has been translated into Farsi and has appeared in the North American Review, Forklift Ohio, and Rhino among other places. She has been the Managing Editor at Poet Lore and the Poetry Editor at So to Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language & Art. She currently curates the DC-based "In Your Ear" reading series, which has been running for over twenty-five years. Also, she created two entire human beings in less than two years.