Rion Amilcar Scott, John Repp to highlight importance of fictional forms, poetic odes in workshops

Many of the short stories in Rion Amilcar Scott’s collection, The World Doesn’t Require You, took years to mature into their current form.

“I had this story, ‘David Sherman, the Last Son of God,’ which I’d been working on for a very long time,” said Scott, a short story writer and the Week Eight prose writer-in-residence at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center. “When I wrote that story, I knew it was very good, but I felt that it would overwhelm the stories in my first book, so I decided to hold onto it until the point where I could write stories that were more its peer.”

At 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14 in the Hall of Philosophy, Scott, the author of the story collection Insurrections, will give a reading of his work. Scott will teach a week-long prose workshop, titled “Journey Through Fictional Forms.” He will be joined by the poet-in-residence John Repp, whose poetry workshop is titled “The Ode: Poetry of Celebration, Reverence, and Surprise.”

“I’ll be reading mostly from my most recent collections, the chapbook Cold-Running Current and The Soul of Rock & Roll, and I’ll be reading some poems from a new manuscript,” Repp said. 

He said The Soul of Rock & Roll is a chapbook of selected poems that came about during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I had no plan to put together a book of selected poems,” he said. “But I suddenly found myself looking back on everything. Part of it was that I retired from teaching, so I had all these boxes and books, and I was packing up my office. I just so happened to keep copies of earlier collections in my office and journals I’d been published in over the years.”

Repp’s week-long workshop at Chautauqua will focus on odes, he said. 

“There’s a long and rich and somewhat prolix tradition of odes in American poetry,” Repp said. “I found myself writing these pages-long poems of praise and titling them ‘Ode to X,’ and ‘Ode to Y.’ Once (Michael I. Rudell Director of Literary Arts Sony Ton-Aime) said that they were interested in having me come to Chautauqua, I proposed that my workshop focus on that.”

Repp said he plans on teaching his workshop “Socratically,” with an emphasis on allowing attendees to fully participate in their own learning and writing. 

“I taught for a long time,” he said. “ … I ask a lot of questions of my students. The first day of the workshop is going to be getting the engine built and oiled and fueled.”

Depending on the workshop, Repp said, students might submit their own poems to the class for review and critique. 

“My approach to teaching, in one word, is ‘inductive,’ ” he said. “When we talk about poems or anything else, I’m interested not in themes or lessons or anything like that, it’s just a question of how this thing behaves. How does this image lead to that image? It’s more of an investigative approach.”

Tags : literary arts

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.