In this weekly drop-in class, we’ll explore the relationship between the self and the city, looking at how poets have dramatized this relationship over the past two hundred years. Whereas some poets depict the city as a great alienating force, an exhausting, maddening, soul-sucking adversary, others depict it as a site of transcendent possibility, a conduit for connection and transformation. And some see it as both, showing a relationship constantly in flux. What does the city mean to you? What drew you to New York City in particular, what dreams and mythologies and compulsions brought you here? How does your sense of the city now compare to your sense in the past? How has it shaped your selfhood? We’ll read works by a range of city-dwelling writers including Charles Baudelaire, Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, Federico Garcia Lorca, Frank O’Hara, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, C.K. Williams, Lynda Hull, Mervyn Taylor and Timothy Speed Levitch as we write poems exploring our own selves and cities. Sharing of poems written in class will be encouraged but optional. (Note that drop-in classes are not a forum for critique of work; students looking for critique should register for multi-week workshops.)
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Named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture” by Brooklyn Magazine, Jason Koo is the founder and executive director of Brooklyn Poets and creator of the Bridge. A second-generation Korean American poet, he is the author of the poetry collections More Than Mere Light, America’s Favorite Poem and Man on Extremely Small Island and coeditor of the Brooklyn Poets Anthology. The winner of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center and New York State Writers Institute, he earned his BA in English from Yale, his MFA in creative writing from the University of Houston and his PhD in English and creative writing from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is an associate teaching professor of English at Quinnipiac University and lives in Beacon, NY.