In his book The Life of Plants: A Metaphysics of Mixture, philosopher Emanuele Coccia writes that “the living being is an environment for the world in the same way in which the remaining things of the world are the environment of the living individual. Influence always goes in both directions.” In this workshop, each of us will identify a single object of attention (a particular thing, creature or environment—living or dead, animate or inanimate) at the outset, and then explore it in writing for the duration of our time together, sharpening and expanding our reception, perception and depiction of it through each new poem we write. Drafts may accumulate as one long poem in parts, or as a series of related poems; our aim will be to transfer the energy of our chosen creature, place or object into the bodies of our poems. Weekly writing prompts will be inspired by poetic series such as Eleni Vakalo’s “Plant Upbringing” and Lydia Davis’s “The Cows,” and individual poems by Yusef Komunyakaa, Liu Xia, Lucille Clifton, Lydia Davis, Francisco X. Alarcón, Ana Luísa Amaral, Elizabeth Bishop, Federico García Lorca, Jack Spicer, James Schuyler and Wong May. Influenced and motivated by these voices, Coccia’s words and Simone Weil’s assertion that “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity,” we’ll trust that the longer we look at and into our subjects—the more time and energy we offer them in the space of our poems—the more clearly and vibrantly they’ll shine through the words we choose to embody them. In discovering and rediscovering their richness, we’ll attempt to learn more about ourselves and our voices as poets.
Emily Hunt is a poet, artist, educator and arts professional. She holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst and is the author of the poetry collection Dark Green (The Song Cave, 2015), named a “Must-Read Poetry Debut” by Lit Hub. Her most recent works are Company (The Song Cave, 2019), a poetry chapbook, and Cousins (Cold Cube Press, 2019), a book of photographs. Hunt has been a visiting writer at the University of Richmond, Reed College and UC Santa Cruz, and has taught writing at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, Westfield State University, Juniper Summer Writing Institute, Omnidawn Publishing, Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop and elsewhere. She has worked for a variety of museums and arts nonprofits, including the Poetry Society of America, the Poetry Foundation, the Contemporary Jewish Museum and Action Books.