The Past Is in Progress
Truthfully the lie of it all is much more honest, because I invented it.
When broken apart, the word “re-vision” implies a kind of newness, seeing something familiar again as if for the first time. A poem, like the past, cannot be boiled down to one objective version—rather, an experience can be told and retold endlessly from different perspectives, allowing for many unique interpretations to orbit around the story’s heart. We see this tradition at work in poetry and music alike, from poem cycles and persona poems to folk songs and the blues. In this seven-week online workshop, we’ll first draw on various poetic and musical structures to explore the consequences of re-visiting / re-viewing / re-telling different versions of our past across many poems, in an attempt to get at the heart of our memories. From there, we’ll construct our own unique poetic landscapes, no matter how fantastic or surreal, to re-view our past and ultimately re-vision our future. To be clear, the goal is not to “revise” the poem-object in the traditional sense, but more consciously to catalogue the symbols, structures and landscapes that make up the stuff of our poems. Essentially, what do we keep going back to—and why? As we do our re-visioning, we’ll engage with various traditional and contemporary versions of folk songs, the blues, and works by Suzane-Lori Parks (The America Play), Laura Grace Ford (Savage Messiah), Tory Dent (Black Milk; HIV, Mon Amour), Theresa Hak-Kyung Cha (Exilee / Temps Morts) and Tony Duvert (Odd Jobs; District). Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Saturday afternoon, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.
Constantine Jones is a queer Greek-American thingmaker raised in Tennessee and currently housed in Brooklyn. Author of the debut poetry collection In Still Rooms (The Operating System, 2020) and a Visual AIDS Artist+ Member, their work has found homes in the PEN Poetry Series, Blood Tree, Stone Pacific, Hematopoiesis and Fugue, among other publications. Their poem “Screening” was selected by Mark Doty as runner-up in the 23+ age bracket of our Whitman Bicentennial Poetry Contest. They teach creative writing at the City College of New York, where they earned an MFA.