The foundation of this workshop will be dream journals—which are exactly what they sound like—or sunset journals, for those who cannot remember their dreams. For the latter, participants would choose a place / environment to sit and write stream-of-consciousness journal entries daily at sunset. (Dream & sunset journals can be changed day-by-day.) Students will also keep “images of interest” journals, where they collect images they find themselves drawn to in their day-to-day lives and use them as structures to guide their poems. All poems for the workshop will be written in the vein of found poetry, as students will swap their journals with other students and create their poems using only other students’ journals, writing about the images and ideas they find themselves interested in and drawing upon the words, ideas and experiences of their fellow poets. Each student will also be contributing lines each week to a communal word bank, from which everyone can use whichever lines they wish (these may culminate in a cento at the end of the course). A few examples of prompts for workshops include writing about a vulnerable moment or time in a poet’s life, and after the poem is finished, inserting a moment of joy; another will ask students to write about themselves as a metaphor (a flower, an animal, anything), and after the poem is finished, writing in a literal revealing of the poet in the poem.
Together we’ll be reading, studying and responding to poems by Etheridge Knight, Assata Shakur, Wendy Trevino, June Jordan, John Murillo, Nate Marshall, Nazim Hikmet, Camille Dungy, Mahmoud Darwish, Noor Hindi, Ross Gay, Li Young Lee and Adele Elise Williams, among others. Students will also be asked to bring in poems (not written by them) to share. We’ll closely be using June Jordan’s essays “Waking Up in the Middle of Some American Dreams” and “For the Sake of People’s Poetry” as maps for our own work and where we intend to go with it.
Anthony Thomas Lombardi is a Pushcart-nominated poet, editor, organizer, activist and educator. He is the founder and director of Word is Bond, a community-centered reading series partnered with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop that raises funds for transnational relief efforts, bail funds and mutual aid organizations, and he serves as a poetry editor for Sundog Lit. He has taught for the Borough of Manhattan Community College, Polyphony Lit’s Summer Editorial Apprenticeship Program and community programming throughout New York City. A recipient of the Poetry Project’s Emerge-Surface-Be Fellowship, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Poetry Foundation’s Ours Poetica, Guernica, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, North American Review and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn with his cat, Dilla.