“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.” Charles Dickens wrote these words many years ago, but they still hold true for 2018. As poets, we might ask, then: how can poetry keep up with the times? How can the poem be a kind of personal documentary informed by the news of what’s going on in the world? In this workshop, we will consider the ways in which the poem is a site for observation, for critique, for disobedience and obedience. We will consult with a variety of information sources to help generate content and inspire different formal technique. We will read work by writers that have used the poem as a way to speak to and about current events, including William Carlos Williams, Frank O’Hara, Allen Ginsberg, Claudia Rankine, Aracelis Girmay and Daisy Zamora. Through the lens of poetry, we will chronicle everything from politics to popular culture.
Vanessa Jimenez Gabb is the author of Images for Radical Politics, which was the Editor’s Choice in the 2015 Rescue Press Black Box Poetry Contest, and the chapbooks midnight blue and Weekend Poems. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as Time Out NY, jubilat, Sixth Finch, VIDA, Big Lucks, Bone Bouquet and the Brooklyn Poets Anthology, and in 2012 she cofounded the literary project Five Quarterly. She holds an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College–CUNY, where she was the recipient of the 2010 Himan Brown Award, and she has taught English and creative writing at St. John’s University and Newark Academy, where she is currently on faculty. She is from and lives in Brooklyn.