In this world built with the engines of empires, injustice remains incessant and relentless. If accountability, i.e. the cardinal bone of any attempt at justice, is rarely afforded, one must, inevitably, begin to contemplate revenge. It’s through revenge that we can attempt to ensure our losses matter in a world that would like to prove otherwise. Of course, in the Western world, we’ve come to think of revenge as a dangerous game: “an eye for an eye” starts a never ending cycle that multiplies wounds and often perpetuates the original harm. But what if, instead of thinking of revenge as reinflicting and reenacting harm, we begin to expand our view and think of revenge as rescue? Are there ways to consider that the human impulse for revenge is merely a prompt? Can revenge be an opportunity to transform ourselves, to enact change? Can revenge be an occasion for beauty? In this six-week online workshop, we’ll use the practice of poetry—and the myriad possibilities it affords—to investigate the idea and practice of revenge. We’ll look at poets who have investigated and attempted revenge, and we’ll also spend time with other kinds of media, like The Count of Monte Cristo, and perhaps The Avengers movies (the most successful movies of all time that also happen to be, mainly, about revenge). We’ll spend time thinking alongside one another and write new work together every week—though we’ll be focused more on generation and discovery and less so on critique. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Sunday, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.
Bernard Ferguson (they/them) is a Bahamian poet and essayist. By great luck, they’re the winner of the 2019 Hurston/Wright College Writers Award and the 2019 92Y Discovery Contest, among other awards. Their work has been supported by NYU’s Global Research Initiative, New York’s Writers in the Public Schools, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. By the kindness of friends and editors, their work has been featured, published or is forthcoming in the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, the New York Times Magazine, New Yorker, Paris Review, Georgia Review and elsewhere. Ferguson has taught creative writing at New York University and numerous New York public schools.