In All That’s Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity, city philosopher Marshall Berman writes that “our past, whatever it was, was a past in process of disintegration; we yearn to grasp it, but it is baseless and elusive; we look back for something solid to lean on, only to find ourselves embracing ghosts.” In this online workshop, we’ll make poems from the rubble of our memories, play in the ruins. Who was here before us? What belongs to us? Does anything? What responsibility do we have to the place to which we have arrived? We’ll consider more specifically what it is to be gentrified: who is the gentry, the gente? When are we the gentrifier? What is it to write in the face of nameless, endless change? Where and what is home? When do we turn to the new? How do we do that and still respect the past?
Sheila Maldonado is the author of one-bedroom solo (Fly by Night Press, 2011) and that’s what you get, forthcoming from Brooklyn Arts Press. She is a CantoMundo Fellow and a Creative Capital awardee as part of desveladas, a visual writing collective. She has served as an artist-in-residence on Governors Island for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and as a Cultural Envoy to Honduras for the US State Department. She teaches creative writing for the City University of New York and holds degrees in English from Brown University and poetry from the City College of New York. She grew up in Coney Island and lives in Washington Heights.