How To Build a Platypus: A Trans-Genre Workshop

How To Build a Platypus: A Trans-Genre Workshop


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, as deviant.

We won’t be splitting or fusing any genes in this writing workshop, but we will be fragmenting and recombining genre features in order to build our own chimeras, sphinxes, platypi, and jackalopes in textual, visual, and/or digital form. 

Much like the graphic novelist, Lynda Barry, who describes her work as autobiofictionalography, the creators who will serve as models for this workshop are interested in boundary expansion, who aim to transcend a singular genre.

Participants will be introduced to Maggie Nelson’s Bluets and Kazim Ali’s Bright Felon, as well as to innovative work by Matthea Harvey, A. Van Jordan, Bianca Stone, Bhanu Khapil, and others. Weekly prompts will invite borrowings from disparate sources as individuals craft mixed-form and/or mixed-media creations. 

While Marianne Moore’s “Poetry” introduced “real toads” into “imaginary gardens,” this workshop invites platypi to romp among them.

August 6-September 2, Online

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Teaching Artist


Brenda Mann Hammack

Brenda Mann Hammack is an Associate Professor of English at Fayetteville State University where she teaches seminars in: creative writing; contemporary poetry; children's literature; women's studies; British literature and culture. Her first book, Humbug: A Neo-Victorian Fantasy in Verse was released by Misty Publications in 2013. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals, including Rhino, The Medulla Review, Gargoyle Magazine, Caveat Lector, Toad Suck Review, A capella Zoo, Mudlark, Arsenic Lobster, The North Carolina Literary Review, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Pedestal, and Steampunk Magazine. Brenda has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize on three occasions. Her scholarly articles can be found in SEL, Mosaic, Interfictions Online: A Journal of Interstitial Arts, and Victorian Hybridities: Cultural Anxiety and Formal Innovation, edited by U.C. Knoepflmacher and Logan D. Browning.

Painting top left:  Abril Andrade Griffith