This week’s Chautauqua Writers’ Center workshops will explore poetry in “nuts and bolts” and prose in “time and space.”
Poet-in-residence Beth Ann Fennelly will teach “Sound, Syntax, Stanza, Magic, Nuts and Bolts” and prose writer-in-residence Kazim Ali will discuss “Writing Oneself in Time and Space.” Both Fennelly and Ali will read from their work at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22, in the Hall of Philosophy.
Fennelly is the poet laureate of Mississippi and author of the poetry collections, Open House, Tender Hooks and Unmentionables. She also teaches at the University of Mississippi.
In her workshop, students will delve into syntax and sound on a sentence-level to understand techniques poets use to“affect our emotions.” “I was just thinking about the places where pleasure comes from in language and how to design a class that would go to the root of where poetry comes from, which is pleasure, and use that to develop skills,” she said.
Musicality and sound are at the root of pleasure in poetry, Fennelly said.
“Really, I think where poetry comes from is that heartbeat that we hear of our mother in the womb and the pleasure of a rhythm,” she said.
Fennelly hopes that students leave the class with an “enhanced knowledge of poetic techniques.”
She would also like them to achieve “enough momentum” to carry what they learn beyond the workshop.
Ali’s prose workshop will cover the ways geography, history, ecology and writing interact.
Ali teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Oberlin College and is the author of the upcoming Silver Road: Essays, Maps & Calligraphies and Inquisition. He also judged the inaugural Chautauqua Janus Prize.
In an interview with Divedapper, Ali said he started thinking about writing differently when he lived in New York City.
“I started to learn a lot about interdisciplinary approaches to poetry that people were doing — a poem that has choreography, or a poem as a piece of music — and I started to think about sense and senselessness and the art of the poem itself,” he told Divedapper. “About language as a medium for something larger and more gestural.”
And landscape also plays a role in writing, which will be explored in the workshop. Ali discussed poetry’s relationship to one’s existence in an interview with Poetry Society of America.
“ … (W)e have a chance also, with our language, with the form and focus of our art to begin delineating the truth of our lives as it is and to start imagining on paper and in space the differences we hope to enact,” he told Poetry Society.
Both writers will give Brown Bags this week. Fennelly will deliver hers at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, and Ali will give his lecture at 12:15 p.m. Friday, July 27, both at the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.