Trauma and Recovery: Negative Capability and the Middle Way

Traumatic experiences overwhelm our ability to cope, and they complicate our relationships with ourselves, others and the world. One way to rebalance, in spite of the reality of an ongoingly unjust, harmful world, is through the exploration of the untapped potential of the self. In this five-week online workshop, prompts will be used to explore how experiences of traumatic events may have shaped self-image, and to allow poets to revisit and/or revise the power and voices of their poems’ speakers, while acknowledging the world’s negative capability. In 1817, the poet John Keats defined negative capability as a writer’s ability to accept “uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason,” which he contended was a key feature of strong writing. Similar concepts, such as dialectical thinking and radical acceptance, were reified millennia earlier in spiritual practices such as Buddhism and have since been incorporated into most commonly used psychological treatments for traumatic stress. Our poems, like our psyches, gain strength when they accurately capture the reality of the world’s suddenness, unpredictability and multiplicity instead of reducing it. In this hybrid healing and creative class, poets will be supported in working towards post-traumatic and creative growth at their own paces. Surveys will be administered prior to the workshop to inquire about and support poets’ specific needs, including emotional safety and creative goals. Using prompts and techniques from Natalie Shapero, Charif Shanahan, Diannely Antigua, danez smith, adrienne maree brown, Cathy Linh Che, Tarfia Faizullah, jt tamayo, alán peleaz-lopez, Carol Gilligan and others, poets will practice crafting their own poems and have the option to participate in a constructive, supportive workshop about the expression of these types of experiences. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Sunday, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.

Workshop Details

  • Teacher: Marina Weiss
  • Level: II
  • Dates: Mar 5–Apr 2, 2023
  • Time: Sundays, 3:00–6:00 pm (ET)
  • Location: online via Zoom
  • Cost: $395
  • Class size: 5–10 students
  • Registration deadline: SUN, FEB 26, 2023
  • Earlybird discount: $15 off through SUN, FEB 12
Marina Weiss

Marina Weiss

Marina Weiss (MFA, PhD) is a clinical psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Innovation in Mental Health at the School of Public Health at the City University of New York. In her training as a therapist, Marina has specialized in integrative modalities to support recovery from trauma and post-traumatic growth, and she has trained in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Marina also holds an MFA in poetry from NYU and is the author of a chapbook, Misprison, which was selected by Aracelis Girmay for the Get Like Us prize from Rabbit Catastrophe Press in 2017. The title poem from the collection was also selected by Eileen Myles for the 2018 So to Speak poetry prize. Marina’s work has been published in Tin House, Colorado Review, Gulf Coast and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn.