“The very word is a can of worms, because it has in it both the sense of reverent concentration and focus, as well as the militaristic ‘Attention!’ the idea of responding to someone else's orders.” —Mary Ruefle
When we give attention to something, we enlarge its presence in our life. As Mary Ruefle points out, power and the possibility of envisioning otherwise both call us to attention. In this workshop, we will explore poetry as the art of the latter. With weekly writing prompts and close engagements of poems, we will develop practices of noticing. Guided by the work of poets such as Anna Akhmatova, Hala Alyan, Ellen Bass, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ross Gay, Aracelis Girmay, Angel Nafis, and Frank O’Hara, we will write poems out of dedicated and tender and playful engagements with our surroundings and our interiors. We will write poetry that tends to and takes care of what we love.
You can expect weekly writing prompts, craft discussions at the intersection of form and politics, and the chance to workshop two poems. You will come away from the class with drafts of 5 poems (including 2 revisions), specific techniques for revising your own work, and an enhanced practice of noticing that you can carry forward.
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.
- A playful, generous, and dedicated course environment where your work will be read rigorously
- One private Skype conference with the instructor to discuss your writing and identify strategies for your growth
- An approach to craft that considers the social meaning of poetic forms, accompanied and supported by readings and writing prompts
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Week 1: Welcome, Introductions, Course Overview and Expectations; Somatic Experience as Poetic Resource / What the Body Notices; Workshop #1
Week 2: Cultivating Practices of Attention in Daily Life, Workshop #2
Week 3: Holding What We Love in Language,#3
Week 4: Possibilities of Tenderness in Contexts of Pain and Violence, Workshop #4
Week 5: Imagining Otherwise, Workshop #5
Week 6: Work in the World: Possibilities and/of Publication, Workshop #6
Claire Schwartz is the author of bound (Button Poetry, 2018), selected by Aziza Barnes as a winner of the 2016 Button Poetry Contest, and poetry editor of Jewish Currents. Her writing has appeared in The Believer, The Massachusetts Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, The New Yorker online, POETRY, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. With Kaveh Akbar and Sarah Kay, she writes a column for the Paris Review called "Poetry RX." She received her PhD in African American Studies, American Studies, and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Yale.
“Oh, this little book broke me. The language here is staggering, the formal ambition and virtuosity obvious even at a glance, but what sets Claire Schwartz’s poems apart is their monumental compassion dealing with subjects—homelands, genealogies, taxonomies, and the violent histories and presents inherent to each—which, in their infinite complexity, defy all but the most earnest and searching poets. In a breathtaking longer piece, Schwartz writes, “I have a truth & a family—which do I serve?” It’s this sort of questioning, this sort of fearless interrogation of inheritance that elevates BOUND to a higher plane of art—it’s not just an incredible book of poems, it’s an incredible feat of empathy. I am a grateful student of its grace.”
“This is a wild-gorgeous dangerous howl of a book. The poems turn their unflinching gaze toward many of the embodied & external horrors and pleasures of the world with deft attention paid to line and music. In BOUND, Claire Schwartz manages to bridge that difficult gap between reportage and ecstatic song.”
“Claire is so caring, is a generous grader, and most importantly, holds space for everyone's experiences. She recognizes the power dynamics at play, always, and speaks them. She is just real.”
“Claire was fantastic! She always approached our section with thoughtfulness and kindness, fostering an environment in which everyone could speak her mind.”
“Her way of responding with such clarity and specificity made me feel heard/read in a really powerful way. She not only pointed me towards the parts of my writing that need the most development, but she also gave me a real boost in confidence.”