Online | Poetry | Workshop

6-Week Online Poetry Workshop: Archival Materials & Research in Poetry

Diggin’ the Crates

This class uses the term "diggin' the crates" to represent the musical DJ, who peruses milkcrates to find records to sample and integrate into their musical sets. A good DJ is also a historian who recognizes and honors the origins of any musical track, not stealing it as a gimmick, but paying homage to music-makers of before. As poets, we often turn to historical documents, photos, maps, journals, and interviews to write about the past, sometimes, like a DJ, making a seamless conversation between the past and the present. How do we responsibly and appropriately access historical sources as we craft poetry today? How can we avoid appropriating others' stories and voices, or leaving out important ones; how do we interrogate the very ways history has been (often problematically) rendered, through our process and poetry?

In this class, best suited to poets who already have a practice and want to focus on developing strong use of archive texts and history, we'll read and engage with poets who access historical sources, be it their own, or others', as we delve into our own poetic projects, creating our own remixes of past, present and future. Each class begins with a freewrite and community-builder, leading to a mini-lecture with discussion engaging with literature, and closes with writing prompts. The latter classes will be more workshop-heavy, focused on offering comments and having dialogue around student work.

Students will leave this class with a greater understanding of how to examine their writing for opportunities to engage with research and historical texts, whether personal or public; they will consider, with a community of writers, aspects of difficulty they may encounter as they honor and give integrity to historical sources that are not their own; will explore the ideas of ethically bearing witness, polyvocality and multilinguality in poetry.

*No class April 5

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.  


- read works by primarily BIPOC authors who use historical texts (literary, historical, scientific and art) and inspirations;

- engage dialogue that deepens a sense of community and support and allows them to discuss contentious aspects of using history and archive

- write with prompts given by the instructor

- written and verbal feedback on new poems from peers and the instructor

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Reading several published poems (3-5 each week), writing to weekly prompts, and reading and giving written and verbal feedback on several peer’s writings each week.


Week 1-Week 2: Focus on published authors and discussing craft topics

Week 3: Prompts and student workshopping, continued craft discussions

Week 4: Prompts and student workshopping, continued craft discussions

Week 5: Prompts and student workshopping, continued craft discussions

Week 6: Revision, full circle reflections and putting the work into the world

Aimee Suzara

Aimee Suzara is a Filipina-American, Oakland, CA-based poet, playwright, and performer. Her poetry book, SOUVENIR was a Willa Award Finalist (2015) and her work has been published in many journals and anthologies. Her work has been supported by the YBCAway Award, Spirited Woman Award, National Endowment for the Arts; the One-Minute Play Festival, APAture, the Utah Arts Festival and many more. She's been teaching creative writing since 2001 and at the college level since 2006. In 2020, she was commissioned to write THE REAL SAPPHO, which was awarded grants from the Kenneth Rainnin Foundation and NEA. Learn more at / follow at Insta: @aimeesuzara.artist. Photo by Bethanie Hines.


“Aimee Suzara is a deep chronicler of our hopes, dreams, pains, and future. Borderless yet profoundly situated, she is the motherjoyscream we must wake up to. We need these poems more than ever.”


“Whether it’s a lychee tree or a fake Rolex, a science experiment or erasure, the poems in this collection act as findings, the bearer of family secrets; they perform myth and memory on the page. Broken, the voices are put together in an assortment of lyric and document, call and response. Historical time is in motion, frozen, revised, projected and Suzara is there to catch the sound of ‘left-behind time;’ it whispers and then it sings; it suggests and then it declares. Above all, it truly witnesses.”

Willie Perdomo author of WHERE A NICKEL COSTS A DIME and SMOKING LOVELY (winner of the PEN Open Book Award)

"While the 1904 World’s Fair displayed Filipino bodies for an American audience, Aimee Suzara’s poetry flips the script to question the ethics of the imperial gaze. Juxtaposing the exposition with her own migrations, she paints an intimate portrait of her family amid all-American landscapes, foods, music, dreams and disappointments. By engaging with a variety of archival material and a range of poetic modes (lyric, narrative, documentary, collage), Suzara keeps our attention on the voices, objects, and memories that we hold onto to survive. In the end, the poet asks herself, her ancestors, and us: “What do you brace, so as not to break”?"


"Aimee is a performer… I mean that she brings her authenticity and connection as a performer with her even as she is transferring that knowledge and experience to her students. Always embodying her art – I think this is what makes her a strong, vibrant instructor."

workshop participant

"Aimee Suzara is an incredible teacher, mentor, and performer. Through this class, she shared her knowledge in writing, capturing, describing, and telling stories that moved me to write and perform in ways I had never done before. I highly recommend taking a class with her, regardless of one’s level of training. Aimee worked with me 1-on-1, given my limited experience with writing skills, and allowed the writer in me to emerge."

workshop participant

"My skills in writing and performing changed for the best. I have more confidence in myself as a writer and performer; and the warm up exercises in particular were great because they helped me relax and get focused both during the workshop sessions and final performance."

workshop participant