Philip Metres to peer into ‘how our writing changes and how we’re changed by our writing’ in Brown Bag

Philip Metres thinks of being an author as embarking on a journey.


“We need to reflect on this process that we’re engaging in,” said Metres, a poet and professor of English at John Carroll University. “Especially how we find our subjects, and how our writing changes and how we’re changed by our writing.”

Metres, the Week Five poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, said that although his week-long workshop will involve “creating poems that wrestle with our pasts, wake us to the present, and help us dream into a better future,” his Brown Bag lecture will be based around his newest book of poetry, Shrapnel Maps.

At 12:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 28, on the CHQ Assembly Virtual Porch, Metres will give a Brown Bag craft lecture on Shrapnel Maps and the personal journey he embarked on that ultimately led to its creation. 

Metres said the idea for the book came out of a class he teaches at John Carroll University on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and from a wedding he attended.

“My sister got married to a Palestinian man in 2003,” he said. “My family went out to celebrate that wedding. Ever since then, it’s been something that I’ve been thinking about and reading about and talking about with people, listening to people.”

Metres said he hasn’t been immune to the effects of both the coronavirus pandemic and the social unrest that has swept the country. 

“I miss the gym, I miss seeing friends, I miss doing readings — I had all these readings planned that got canceled,” he said. “Since this all started, I’ve actually written a couple pieces to my family and my students, pieces that kind of speak to my hopes and fears moving forward.”

Those hopes and fears can be best summarized in a quote from poet W.S. Merwin that Metres tweeted: “Blake said the object of being human is to learn how to be human. And we might not be able to be human in time … to live up to our full capacities, in time to save ourselves or the world that is vulnerable to us. And that would be a greater tragedy than we can imagine.”

Tags : brown bagChautauqua Writers’ CenterJohn Carroll UniversityPhilip MetresShrapnel MapsWeek Five poet-in-residence

The author Chris Clements

Chris Clements is reporting on literary arts during his third summer with The Chautauquan Daily. He has previously written previews for the Interfaith Lecture Series and Sacred Song Services and covered literary arts digitally in 2020. Chris is a second-year grad student at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he is a Master of Fine Arts candidate in creative writing, specializing in fiction. He’s passionate about all things related to literature, music and film, especially author David Foster Wallace, jazz singer Cecile McLorin Salvant and the films of Paul Thomas Anderson.