Magnolia City, Space City, Bayou City, Crush Town, Big Heart—would a city by any other name hustle as hard? In this one-day generative workshop, we’re gonna try to find out! We will experiment with different angles from which to write about place by studying various examples of writers obsessed with place, from Ai to Italo Calvino to a few of our own homegrown poets. Houston is a distinctive city with its own rich, if sometimes complicated, history. Our own personal feelings towards Houston may also be complicated and shift from day to day. However, we are no one’s “New York of the South” (have you ever asked someone in NYC how to get to Hue-ston Street only to be told it’s actually pronounced House-ton?). And while Houston has its own identity, it’s also a city with many faces, literally and figuratively. My Houston may not be your Houston, and that’s one of the beautiful aspects of this place: how large and filled with multitudes. The goal of our class is to, as Valzhyna Mort said, push through “what used to be just smoke” in order to reveal the “fire that gave it birth.” Expect to leave with three to four drafts or seeds to new poems.
Benjamin Garcia is a 2019 Lambda Literary Fellow, and his first collection of poems, THROWN IN THE THROAT (Milkweed Editions, Fall 2020), was selected for the 2019 National Poetry Series by Kazim Ali. He received his MFA from Cornell University and currently works as a Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Educator in the Finger Lakes region of New York. He grew up in Houston’s East End and graduated from Milby High School. He had the honor of being the 2017 Latinx Scholar at the Frost Place, 2018 CantoMundo Fellow at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in: The Missouri Review, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Kenyon Review, Crazyhorse, and Best New Poets 2018. Find him on twitter: @bengarciapoet