Conjuring Women and the Contrary Craft of Poetry

Conjuring Women and the Contrary Craft of Poetry


October 7-November 3, Online

In Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive (2017), Kristen J. Sollée examines feminine figures from folklore and popular culture as agents of resistance. Among those identified by Sollée as challengers of spiritual, sexual, environmental and political power structures are: Lilith, Baba Yaga, Yamauba, Tituba, Marie Levau, Joan of Arc, Elvira, Dame Darcy, and Stevie Nicks. Sollée’s study will be one of several historical and cultural influences on this workshop, collaboratively led by Judith Roney and Brenda Mann Hammack. 

Lessons will touch on dimensions of witchery as personified by the hedge-witch, the termagant, the oracle, the bruja, and the druid. Each week, workshop participants will examine poems by contemporary female poets who have drawn on lore of various cultures in order to conjure their own spells of resistance. These poets are likely to include: Annie Finch, Lisa Marie Basile, Carmen Giménez Smith, Jenn Givhan, Kiki Petrosino, Shara McCallum, Ansel Elkins, Maureen Alsop, Lucie Brock-Broido, Vivee Francis, Donika Kelly and Emily Skaja.

Here is an example from Skaja’s forthcoming Brute

& where is that witch girl
unafraid of anything, flea-spangled little yard rat, runt
of no litter, queen, girl who wouldn’t let a boy hit her,
girl refusing to be It in tag, pulling that fox hide
heavy around her like a flag? Let me look at her.
Tell her on my honor, I will set the wedding dress on fire
when I’m good & ready or she can bury me in it.

—from “Brute Strength”


Teaching Artists


Judith Roney & Brenda Mann Hammack

Judith Roney’s diverse work has appeared in numerous publications. Most recently, her chapbook, Waiting for Rain, received an honorable mention from Two Sylvias Press, and Field Guide for a Human was a finalist in the Gambling the Aisle chapbook contest. Her poetry collection, According to the Gospel of Haunted Women, received the Pioneer Prize. She confesses to an obsession with the archaic and misunderstood, dead relatives, and collects vintage religious artifacts and creepy dolls. She teaches creative writing at the University of Central Florida, is a poetry reader for The Florida Review, and a teaching artist for The Poetry Barn in West Hurley, New York.

Brenda Mann Hammack is an Associate Professor of English at Fayetteville State University where she serves as coordinator for the BA in Creative and Professional Writing. She teaches seminars in folklore, creative writing, contemporary poetry, women's literature, and writing medicine. Her first book, Humbug: A Neo-Victorian Fantasy in Verse was released in 2013. Her poems, short stories, and photos have appeared in numerous literary journals, including Menacing Hedge, NILVX: A Book of Magic, Gargoyle Magazine, Anthropoid, Hypnopomp, Papercuts, A capella Zoo, Elsewhere Lit, 895 Lit + Art, The Golden Key, Mudlark, Arsenic Lobster, The North Carolina Literary Review, and Steampunk Magazine. Her scholarly articles can be found in SEL, Mosaic, Interfictions Online: A Journal of Interstitial Arts, Sirens: Collected Papers on Women in Fantasy and Victorian Hybridities: Cultural Anxiety and Formal Innovation, edited by U.C. Knoepflmacher and Logan D. Browning. She is managing editor atGlint Literary Journal. . Portraits from her encounters with feathered, furred and antlered folk can be found in her Instagram gallery @brendahammack.