Taking Persona Personally
We often think of a chorus as the part of a song we can’t get out of our head. It’s no coincidence that the ancient Greek root of the word implies a collective singing and dancing of poetry. In ancient Greek drama, the chorus was a persona both one and many—a group of voices speaking and moving together that would periodically interact with the characters on stage as part of the plot while also providing contextual information for the audience directly. The chorus was both inside and outside the action at once. “The ideal spectator,” as scholars have noted, representative of a larger collective experience, in contrast to the individual “hero.”
In this five-week online workshop, we’ll consider ourselves—our many selves, those different versions of us across every time and place that we have lived—to create our own personal poetic landscape. By creating poems out of our composite lived experience, we’ll begin to feel time as less linear and more spherical, allowing many different versions of ourselves to speak at once—in essence creating a chorus of selves, a unique landscape in which we’re both the actors and spectators of our own lives, both the speakers and audiences of our own poems. We’ll explore different interpretations of the chorus (by Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles) and the work of contemporary poets who expertly use multiple voices to create unique, tactile landscapes from their lived experiences, including Anne Carson, Cynthia Cruz, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Andrew McMillan, David Wojnarowicz and others. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Saturday afternoon, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.
Cea / (Constantine Jones) is an interdisciplinary Greek-American thingmaker. They are a member of the Artist+ Registry at Visual AIDS, where they also serve on the Archives Committee, as well as a member of the collective, What Would An HIV Doula Do?. They facilitate creative writing workshops at the City College of New York, Brooklyn Poets, Liminal Lab and elsewhere. They are the author of the hybrid text, In Still Rooms (The Operating System, 2020) and a collaborative chapbook with Portuguese visual artist Vicente Sampaio, BALEEN: A Poem In Twelve Days (Ursus Americanus, 2021). Their work has been performed or exhibited at various venues across NYC and Tennessee.