This two-session, online workshop will be devoted to close-reading groundbreaking writers from the past—with generative writing prompts based on those readings tailored to help writers of the present. Together we’ll read and discuss the work of the marvelous Marvin Bell, Wanda Coleman, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Etheridge Knight, Diane Di Prima and Jack Gilbert. The workshop is open to writers and readers of all levels and will be a place of encouragement, invention and community. In the first half of each session, we’ll close-read the poems together, reading like writers and discussing craft choices that we can apply to our own work. In the second half, students will be given specially tailored prompts, time to write and a chance to share at the end if they’d like. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom. Each session will also be recorded for everyone registered—so if students cannot make a session in real time they can still delight in the lesson and materials afterward.
Emily Sernaker is a writer, educator and human-rights professional based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the Sun, New York Times, Ms. Magazine, McSweeney’s, Los Angeles Review of Books, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, the Rumpus, New Ohio Review and more. Over the last few years she has teamed up with Brooklyn Public Library to organize free, intergenerational, human-rights poetry programming, including Holding Space for Grief events, an Interfaith Poetry Reading, and Global Citizen poetry classes. She has worked as a staff member at the International Rescue Committee and New York Peace Institute and is currently an adjunct professor at the New School. Her anthology and creative guide Your Favorite Poet’s Favorite Poet is forthcoming from Clarkson Potter Penguin Random House in 2025.