The Sexual Self

What makes us uncomfortable makes us better poets. There’s nothing more unsettling than our inner desires and submerged identities. Our sex and sexuality make us human, make us possess and become possessed, give birth to new identities and destroy former selves. In this workshop, we’ll embrace our bodies and minds in order to dig deep into our bizarre dreams, nightmares, obsessions and memories to understand the complexities of the sexual self. We will learn and relearn how to use persona in poetry, both personally and voyeuristically—and in this way, intertwine the real with the surreal world of power play, tension and suspense, while gaining insight into the self’s true identity and capability for change and reinvention. Readings will include poems by Milton, Adrienne Rich, Kym Hyesoon, Robert Hass, Louise Glück, Claudia Rankine, Richard Siken, Srikanth Reddy, Lucille Clifton, Richard Brautigan and many more. In addition, we’ll look at visual art, films and music as secondary sources and aids, including work by Klimt, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Rachmaninoff, Wong Kar Wai, Hitchcock and Sun Ra.

Workshop Details


Joanna C. Valente is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015) and Marys of the Sea (ELJ Publications, forthcoming 2016). Her chapbook XENOS is forthcoming from Imaginary Friend Press in 2016. Some of her work appears or is forthcoming in the Huffington Post, Columbia Journal, Similar Peaks, Paris-American, BORT Quarterly and Tinderbox, among other places. She earned her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College and in 2011 received the American Society of Poets Prize. She is the founder of Yes, Poetry and is the chief editor for Luna Luna Magazine. She lives in Sunset Park.