In Pursuit of the Strange: Unsettling Habit through Diversity of Style


7 Wed. Nights Writing Poetry
with Kaitlin Rizzo
Oct 4 – Nov 15  // 6 – 9pm

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artwork by El Mictlart


In this in-studio workshop, we will resist any preconceptions we might hold about poetry through the goggles of habit. We will pursue new velocities, stylistic oxygen, and stillnesses through a diversity of forms. We will sample a range of styles from contemporary poetry—from the hypnotic ghazals of Agha Shahid Ali, to the narrative swirl of Larry Levis, Joyelle McSweeney’s Death Style poems, Roberto Tejada’s soundscapes, and the torqued sonnets of Wanda Coleman. We will aim to fling ourselves beyond our poetic comforts to arrive at language and music which feels new to us. By estranging ourselves we may encounter a version of ourselves in our writing which might have otherwise remained hidden. We will prize what is strange, what is uncanny. We will ask what does the modernist dictum “make it new” mean anyway, in a burning world? How do we turn this dictum on its head when disaster is both new and familiar—surreal, yet often pushing the bounds beyond shock? To be shocked and surprised is to catalyze change. To make something strange is a way to delineate it more clearly for a constant reexamination. We will think through some of these ideas as we bring in new poems and respond to weekly prompts.

Kaitlin Rizzo is a writer, researcher, and translator working on a series of projects related to the life of Baroque painter, Artemisia Gentileschi. Her most recent writing can be found or is forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, Plume, and the anthology Shreela Ray: On the Life and Work of an American Master. She has been a Finalist the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry and the Olive B O’Connor Fellowship in Poetry. Kaitlin lives and teaches in Houston, where she is a Co-President and Founder of the Adjunct English Society, which advocates for sustainable wages for contingent faculty at the University of Houston.

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