Behind every good writer is a good reader. Together in this seven-week online workshop, we’ll demystify the idea that poetry is for the select few and explore the art form through the lens of legacy and community. Drawing from the instructor’s Your Favorite Poet’s Favorite Poet Anthology (in development), which includes 27 interviews with some of today’s most inspiring and innovative poets, we’ll read the work of poets recommended by Sharon Olds, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Kimiko Hahn, Vievee Francis, Hanif Abdurraqib, Tyehimba Jess and Ada Limón. In addition to looking at the poet pairings in conversation, students will generate new work through prompts related to the poems being discussed. Prompts will focus on structure, poetic devices, subject matter, inspiration and creative process. Students will learn to trace the influence one poet has had on another and see how these poets applied a move they picked up from one of their heroes. For example, we’ll look at how Ada Limón studied Muriel Rukeyser’s use of anaphora in her poem “Waiting for Icarus” and deployed the device in her own poem “The Conditional.” We’ll spend four weeks studying poets’ work and generating writing in class in response to what we’ve read, and three weeks workshopping poems. At the end, students will write a poem in conversation with a favorite poem of their own. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Wednesday, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.
Emily Sernaker is a writer and human-rights professional based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the Sun, New York Times, Ms. Magazine, McSweeney’s, Los Angeles Review of Books, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Rumpus, New Ohio Review and more. Over the last few years she has teamed up with Brooklyn Public Library to organize free, intergenerational, human-rights poetry programming, including Holding Space for Grief events, an Interfaith Poetry Reading, and Global Citizen poetry classes. She has worked as a staff member at the International Rescue Committee and New York Peace Institute and is currently an adjunct professor at the New School.