“Pardon my heart if it ruins your party,” writes Marcus Jackson. “It’s a large, American heart and has had // a good deal to drink. It’s a pretty bad / dancer—too much feeling, too little technique.” In this craft lab, we’ll explore what it means to take up space on the page though it might “ruin the party,” so as to get past self-censorship and one’s own inner demons of fear and doubt. How can you, in times of such troubling uncertainty, unleash unbridled joy onto the page? How can you hit an inner “reset” button and start from a new, fresh perspective that celebrates who you’ve always been, including the good and the bad, the loud and the quiet, the clear and the dim? For inspiration we’ll read poets like Jackson, Ada Limón, Ross Gay, Diane Seuss and Darrel Alejandro Holnes. We’ll examine different approaches to unleashing your most unbridled candor in three phases: (1) identifying what’s holding you back, whether it’s self-censorship or something that’s haunting or silencing you, keeping you in a state of paralysis and limbo; (2) sheathing these demons in language, tropes and poetic forms grounded in things you love; and (3) hitting the “reset” not by letting go of what’s holding you back but jumping off from it into new territory and fresh pages. For each phase, you’ll be given writing exercises and poetry prompts, and you’ll be given takeaways at the end of the lab on how to move forward in your poetry, even in writing of the past, and how to keep curiosity, hope and sheer audacity alive in such trying times.
All participants will have access to a cloud recording of the craft lab for one month afterward.
Craft Lab Details
Rosebud Ben-Oni is the winner of the 2019 Alice James Award for If This Is the Age We End Discovery (2021) and the author of turn around, BRXGHT XYXS (Get Fresh Books, 2019). Her chapbook 20 Atomic Sonnets, which appears in Black Warrior Review (2020), is part of a larger future project called The Atomic Sonnets, which she began in 2019 in honor of the Periodic Table’s 150th Birthday. She is a 2013 CantoMundo Fellow and the recipient of a 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry. Her work appears in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Tin House, Guernica and TriQuarterly, among others. In 2017, her poem “Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark” was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC and published by Kenyon Review online. Recently, her poem “Dancing with Kiko on the Moon” was featured on Tracy K. Smith’s The Slowdown. She writes for the Kenyon Review blog.