Early naturalists perceived the taxidermied platypus as a composite beast. With its duckish bill, beaverish tail, and otterly feet, it offended the sensibilities of genera. Some dismissed the creature as hoax, deviant.
Audiences do seek comfort in the known. Therefore, it should not be surprising that writers and other artists encounter resistance, sometimes outright hostility from readers/viewers, who aren’t quite sure what to make of oddities of word and image that refuse to adhere to generic patterns or classifications.
How should we characterize unusual volumes like Maggie Nelson’s Bluets or Kazim Ali’s Bright Felon? Both books are likely to be found in the poetry sections of well-stocked bookstores, though both writers have expressed dissatisfaction with glib labelling.
The creators who will serve as models for this workshop are interested in boundary expansion. Participants will be introduced to examples by Nelson and Ali as well as to innovative work by Matthea Harvey, A. Van Jordan, Bianca Stone, Bhanu Khapil, and others.
While Marianne Moore’s “Poetry” introduced “real toads” into “imaginary gardens,” this workshop invites platypi to romp among them. Weekly prompts will invite borrowings from disparate sources as individuals craft mixed-form and/or mixed-media drafts to be submitted to the teaching artist and other participants for feedback.
Teaching Artist: Brenda Mann Hammack
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