In the past two years, we have witnessed and experienced immeasurable grief. How Am I Supposed to Write in a Pandemic? is a gentle poetry course designed to help people write through some of the feelings and thoughts that have stayed with us during this time. It is designed as a low-stakes communal approach to writing when you don’t know where to begin.
Together we will study poems in the form of lists, short films, and live performances to deepen our understanding of craft. We’ll also discover the joy of poetry again through experimentation, visual poems, freewrites, and guided discussions. Course texts highlight LGBTQIA+ writers of color with special attention to spoken word poets like Imani Davis, Azura Tyabji, and Ebony Stewart.
A class open mic is included to strengthen our bond as a class and develop connection in this isolating time. The final session includes a Q&A where students can ask questions about writing, publishing, and promoting their work.
Students can expect to write 6 new poems, engage in collective study, learn about the professional literary world, and become part of a supportive writing community. This class is open to writers of all experience levels.
See Accessibility Guidelines specific to the virtual writing class here: https://tinyurl.com/writepandemic
Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- 6 new poems, including a visual poem
- Information on publishing & promotion work, applying for grants, and MFA programs
- Gentle & generative prompts plus a supportive group writing environment
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Each week we will read and watch poems in class and engage in group discussion. We will respond to writing prompts and share work aloud. There is no homework because this is meant to be a low-stakes “welcome back” to writing.
Week 1 - Introductions & List Poems: What I Did During the Pandemic
Week 2 - Processing the Pandemic: Memory, Grief, & Responsibility
Week 3 - Visual Poems
Week 4 - Desire & Delights
Week 5 - Class Open Mic
Week 6 - Q&A: Publishing, Promoting, Grants, & MFAs
Ariana Brown is a queer Black Mexican American poet from San Antonio, TX. She holds a B.A. in African Diaspora Studies and Mexican American Studies, an M.F.A. in Poetry, and is pursuing an M.L.S. in Library Science. Ariana is a 2014 national collegiate poetry slam champion. She is the author of We Are Owed. (Grieveland, 2021) and Sana Sana (Game Over Books, 2020). She has been writing, performing, and teaching poetry for over 10 years. Find her work online at www.arianabrown.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @ArianaThePoet.
“The course affirmed that my writing and my demons are valid, and that the stories that are most important to me are worthy of being written. It rejuvenated my belief in myself as a writer, my sense of urgency about producing new work, and opened horizons for future writing projects. So grateful for the space and guidance of an awesome facilitator!”
“I loved the focus on POC and queer poets. I've taken other poetry courses before that were great, but did not explicitly touch on many of the topics around identity and lived experiences that did come up in this course. Ariana's teaching was also lovely, thoughtful, deep, and overall such a great learning experience.”
“My favorite part of the course was getting introduced to new poets both in our readings and in class. Prior to the pandemic, I yearned for poetry community as well as opportunities for affirmation as a writer. I was reminded of those desires in this class. I especially loved watching the performances of some of our readings- I don’t have experience reading my work aloud and so I loved getting to know different ways a poem can take form via performance.”
“Brown’s collection, SANA SANA, is simultaneously revelatory and familiar; like its title, the poems within aim their gaze towards healing but not healing in a conciliatory way; here Brown looks to heal by swishing a finger through the wound and holding the blood up to the light. Which is to say, Brown's writing is for the ache, for the scab, for the scar, and the ghost pain, ‘It takes love to name the damage / on one’s own body.’ And this is a collection about naming, about forgiving, about the music of memory and the invention of self and history in order to survive.”
“The virtue that I have long admired in the poems of Ariana Brown is the warmth that is directed upon the audience. And these poems know and identify their audience with gentleness and gratitude, even—or especially—when the audience is the self. Even death links its fingers with praise, even dislocation is met with a crawl back to some familiar affection. I am thankful to once again be witness to these poems that welcome and make space for the people who most need it. And for how Ariana Brown sets a lens on the world that is critical, but always caring.”
“Kamau Brathwaite, in THE LAZARUS POEMS, writes: ‘so much undone to be undone.’ And it is this very recovery work that runs through Ariana Brown’s urgent, beautiful, desiring WE ARE OWED. Hers is a poetics of restoration and relation. A ‘work on the words’ that re-minds me with the lyric’s capacity to clarify, as with this moment when the kiss confronts (or is in tension with) the nation: ‘Quiero salir, salir, salir, / to love no nation, to kiss / my mirror with the mouth / I own.’ In this book, Ariana Brown scrutinizes the isolations on which white supremacist ideology so brutally depends, and traces her particular Black consciousness to mark a route into kinship, unknowing, touch, ‘water / & the stories / we passed / through it.’ "