Online | Poetry | Workshop

6-Week Generative Poetry Workshop: Ecopoetics in a Time of Environmental Crisis

Ecological disasters, species extinctions, climate refugees… in a time of dramatic change, how does poetry navigate these new landscapes? Demarking itself from traditional nature poetry, ecopoetics offers new perspectives that emphasize the interconnectedness of all Earth beings and work against the idea of a distinction between nature and humankind, that subtends many hegemonic systems of extractivism and oppression.

Organized in weekly themes, this generative course will invite participants to discover some ecopoetic approaches to the present environmental crisis through the work of living, contemporary poets from various cultural backgrounds and environmental experiences. For example, we will explore works by Juliana Spahr, Craig Santos Perez, Donika Kelly, Franny Choi, Juan Felipe Herrerra, W.S. Merwin, and many more! Before each session, participants will be invited to read poems that will guide discussions about traits and techniques of ecopoetics and that will support experimentation of their own ecopoetic voice. Each class will comprise a discussion, a generative writing time on the weekly topic, and a workshop of poems by participants.

This course is open to poets of all experience levels interested in discovering ecopoetics and in generating new work within a supportive and respectful environment. Participants will have the opportunity to workshop two poems, and will come out of the course with multiple drafts and a better understanding of ecopoetics.

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.  

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- A supportive and inviting environment in which to safely experiment and generate new work

- The opportunity to discover exciting, contemporary ecopoetry from various cultural backgrounds and environmental experiences

- Thoughtful discussions and constructive feedback to grow into your own writing

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

- Complete the weekly readings (4-5 poems) and engage in the class discussions

- Be open-minded and respectful

- Be willing to experiment with new techniques, forms, or ideas

- Write two ecopoems, and give written and verbal feedback on fellow classmate's submitted ecopoems

COURSE SKELETON:

Week 1: Welcome and introduction to ecopoetics: eco-anxiety

Week 2: Remembered & dismembered: diverse experiences and memories of places

Week 3: If Earth could talk: question of representation

Week 4: Ghosts of the Anthropocene: addressing the future

Week 5: Hope: sounding Earth

Week 6: Conclusion

Beatrice Szymkowiak

Beatrice Szymkowiak is a French-American writer. She is the author of RED ZONE, a poetry chapbook. Her work has also appeared in several poetry magazines including Terrain.org, The Berkeley Review, The Portland Review, OmniVerse, The Southern Humanities Review, and many others. Exploratory and experimental, her poetry investigates the new environmental trajectory of the Anthropocene. She graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2017, and obtained a PhD in English/Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2022.

Testimonials

"Beatrice Szymkowiak’s lyric eco-poetry, situated in Posthumanism and Object-Oriented Ontology, is highly inventive, experimenting with self-imposed constraints, erasure, collage, neologisms, and an acute attention to the economy of language so that each word is essential, nothing wasted. In her hands, language is deconstructed and reinvented to serve a vision of interconnectedness that resists, at every turn, human exploitation of the rest of the natural world."

Brenda Cárdenas, PhD author of several poetry collections, Milwaukee Poet Laureate 2010-12

“In a complex meditation on the destructiveness of war and the persistence of nature, poet Beatrice Szymkowiak explores France’s Zone Rouge, the area so devastated by war that people are still forbidden to enter, where things still blossom and explode. Where “crows burst” above the land of “unexploded explosives.” Where “slow soil & / shrapnel” yield to “a murmurration of starlings.” In the long poem “Fleury-Devant-Douaumont,” the page itself becomes the zone, mined & grenaded & shrapnelled by words, words that begin to merge, becoming neologisms of compost—“betweenroots,” “shrapnelspades,” “inboots.” In the end, despite human interventions, “yellow-bellied toads frogs salamanders / crested newts thrive” and “corpses tuber / into russets.” Szymkowiak has written a crucial book, especially critical as the entire globe quickly becomes a Red Zone.”

Jon Davis author of several collections of poetry and recipient of a Lannan Literary Award in Poetry and the Peter I.B. Lavan Prize from the Academy of American Poets

"After working on my manuscript for a year plus post graduating from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2017, I asked Beatrice Szymkowiak to review my working thesis manuscript in 2018....She helped tighten the poems, showed me where I was being superfluous in my diction choices, assisted with sound, and gave me guidance on form. Some poems she correctly perceived would be better as couplets, others she thought would be better if I moved the stanzas around, and in some cases she suggested I end the poems earlier than I had originally intended....Her editorial skills help me immensely, and now the manuscript is fully published albeit in two different collections. Without Beatrice’s comments I am not sure the poems would have been so successful. Her comments on my manuscript were a gift of time and attention. Anyone who has her review their manuscripts and poems will come away with a stronger body of work and insight, and much to contemplate."

Angela Trudell Vasquez Madison Laureate Poet 2020-24

“On the very first day of class, my Professor Szymkowiak set a tone of acceptance and inclusion, a notion that should not go unrecognized. She fostered a growth within myself, as well as within my peers, that we can all build upon and a sense of courage to do so.”

former student from a Creative Writing course