R&B, Poetry and Me

“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul,” said Plato. No wonder some of the greatest poets in this country made soul music and its progeny, R&B, in the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s. In this five-week online workshop, we’ll read, discuss, write and workshop poems about and inspired by Motown, Soul and R&B. Poets we’ll read and discuss include A. Van Jordan, Jericho Brown, Monica Hand, Danez Smith, the BreakBeat Poets and many others. We’ll also be closely listening to music from Tevin Campbell, Anita Baker and Toni Braxton to Lauryn Hill, Luther Vandross, Ella Mai and Solange. Each week we’ll listen to and discuss music and a sampling of poems, complete writing exercises and prompts, and workshop one another’s poems—offering constructive, considerate and detailed feedback. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Thursday night, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.

Workshop Details


Darrel Alejandro Holnes is the author of Migrant Psalms, forthcoming from Northwestern University Press in 2020, and Stepmotherland, forthcoming from Notre Dame Press in 2021. He is also the coauthor of PRIME: Poetry & Conversations, an Over the Rainbow List selection by the American Library Association, and the coeditor of Happiness, The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, published to commemorate the United Nations International Day of Happiness. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in creative writing, the CP Cavafy Prize from Poetry International, the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize from Letras Latinas, and the Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize from Northwestern University Press. His poems have been published in American Poetry Review, Poetry, Callaloo, Best American Experimental Writing and elsewhere in print and online. He is an assistant professor of creative writing and playwriting at Medgar Evers College—CUNY and also teaches as part of the arts faculty at NYU Gallatin.