Making Something New: Where Imagination Enters the Poetic Process

Let’s say it out loud: I fear I’m not as creative as I’m supposed to be as a poet. Omg. What if everyone discovers my secret? I’m a fraud, not an artist but an aimless wanderer who wandered up on something good that very one time. Please. Look at the world we live in! The bland force of late capitalism and the propriety of adulthood works hard on us. The habitual speech of politicians, corporate America and social media is a linguistic quicksand we wade through as poets. And it’s fun to counteract. It’s what we do. We say things in a new way. We displace and disrupt speech as usual. We restore meaning. But how? How do we relocate the creativity and imagination of our younger selves? What is imagination exactly? How do we recognize it when it shows up and how does it show up in our process? Is it internal inspiration from a mystic thunder perfect mind? Or is it external—a poetics of attention, what we notice and use? This high-energy, three-hour craft lab will be like speed-dating the populace of our dormant imaginations. We’ll cycle through strategies, examples and prompts, looking at poems by poets such as K. Iver, Mary-Alice Daniel, Ama Codjoe, Vievee Francis, Joshua Burton, Carl Phillips and Will Alexander. We’ll address imagination at every stage of the process, from forming an idea to revision.

All participants will have access to a cloud recording of the craft lab for one month afterward.

Craft Lab Details


Joy Priest

Joy Priest is the author of Horsepower (Pitt Poetry Series 2020), winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, and the editor of Once a City Said: A Louisville Poets Anthology (Sarabande, 2023). She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Fine Arts Work Center fellowship and the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review. Her poems are forthcoming in the Nation and Los Angeles Review of Books, as well as in commissions for the Museum of Fine Arts–Houston (MFAH) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In the fall of 2023, she will join the University of Pittsburgh’s Writing Program as an assistant professor of African American / African Diasporic Poetry.