Poetry as Activism

September 27, 2018
6-7PM
Room 212, Hodges Library, University of Tennessee


In the wake of traumatic events or in the midst of national arguments, we turn to poetry. After the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Maggie Smith's "Good Bones" was read online by millions. After the killings of black men and women by police, Jericho Brown's "Bullet Points" is shared on social media again and again. In the last few years of national political strife, the National Endowment for the Arts says poetry readership is at an all-time high for the new millennium.

In this workshop, we will be talking about how today's poems try to shift our understanding of the world, and we will write new poems using those techniques. Through their use of perspective, question, repetition, and more, speakers of contemporary poems take their reaction to an event and turn it into proactive reflection on self and community. This workshop will ask: what is active when poetry comes alive to you, and how do we use those elements of poetry to help us become more alive to ourselves and others in the face of current events? Poets we read together may include Fatimah Asghar, Rickey Laurentiis, Ada Limón, Jamaal May, and Maggie Smith.

Jeremy Michael Reed is a PhD candidate in English and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee. His poems are published in Still: The Journal, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere, including the anthology Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing. He's the editor-in-chief of Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts, associate editor of Sundress Publications, co-director of The Only Tenn-I-See Reading Series, and assistant to Joy Harjo.

This event co-sponsored by the University of Tennessee Creative Writing Program and is free and open to the public.





What Work Is: An Investigation of Labor and Art

October 16, 2018
6-7PM
Room 212, Hodges Library, University of Tennessee


In this workshop, we'll read and write poems about labor. In the first ten minutes, we'll introduce ourselves by sharing how our labor and creative pursuits do and not intersect and cultural attitudes about poetry and identity. For example, we might discuss access to poetry in our communities, attitudes we held toward poetry growing up, and the potential and limitations of poetry to document issues in our communities. Then we'll take twenty minutes to investigate issues of class, race, gender, and form in poems from Natasha Trethewey's Domestic Work (2000) and Charles Reznikoff's Poetry: 1918-1975 (1989). We'll take ten minutes to brainstorm images and consider how elements from our working life might shape a poem thematically and formally. For example, how might the way we measure time, organize information, or talk at work translate into how we use white space, line length, tone, or voice? How can we incorporate the sensory and vernacular experiences of everyday labor into art? How have our family's work experiences influenced our outlooks? After brainstorming, we'll take fifteen minutes to draft of a poem and use the remainder of the time to share work as a group. Our goal is to leave the workshop better acquainted with labor poetry, inspired by intersections of work and art, and motivated to share art with communities outside of the academy.

Allison Pitinii Davis is the author of Line Study of a Motel Clerk (Baobab Press, 2017), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award's Berru Award for Poetry and the Ohioana Book Award, and Poppy Seeds (Kent State University Press, 2013), winner of the Wick Poetry Chapbook Prize. She holds fellowships from Stanford University's Wallace Stegner program, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Severinghaus Beck Fund for Study at Vilnius Yiddish Institute. Her poetry has appeared in Best American Poetry 2016, The New Republic, Crazyhorse, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. She is a PhD student at The University of Tennessee.

This event co-sponsored by the University of Tennessee Creative Writing Program and is free and open to the public.




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