“When we were young, we were told that poetry is about voice, about finding a voice and speaking with this voice, but the older I get I think it’s not about voice, it’s about listening and the art of listening, listening with attention. I don’t just mean with the ear; bringing the quality of attention to the world. The writers I like best are those who attend.” —Kathleen Jamie
“Man, sometimes it takes a long time to sound like yourself” —Miles Davis
This seminar, open to writers with all levels of experience, will explore the connections between finding one’s poetic voice and becoming an active listener.
Discovering this connection helps the writer envision their inner world as a complex and choral realm. From this point of view, we can harness our relationship to our environment and a much broader understanding of community, channelling that into engaging prose and poetry.
This approach has helped me situate and embrace my practice within a much broader activity that begins before and continues long after placing any words on the page.
Particularly suited to writers working in poetry and other lyrical forms, we will undertake this exploration through open dialogue, shared listening, and a study of some essential techniques gleaned from songwriting. The goal is to develop a capacity for deep listening as a portal to unlocking vibrant qualities in our writing.
Students will leave this class with a deeper understanding of what is meant by voice-driven poems, some familiarity with basic songwriting tools and an appreciation for the role of attentiveness in a writer’s life.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- A broader understanding of poetic voice
- Incorporate active listening rituals into a writing practice
- Experiment with songwriting and lyrical techniques as a way of unlocking voice
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will be expected to share brief audio recordings of their poetry or other short works, listen to and analyze music and sound, and engage in open conversation about the relationship between voice and listening.
First hour: Introductions. Discussion on voice, interpretations and implications for poetry and prose, and on the poetics of listening.
Second hour: Guided writing and listening exercises. Q&A with instructor.
Kwaku Darko-Mensah Jnr. is a Ghanaian-born, Montreal-based artist and writer who records and performs music as Kae Sun.
His genre-defying approach to music and writing is anchored in poetry and deals with existential musings on heritage, belonging and desire.
Beginning with his project Oceans Apart (2015), Kwaku has written and produced collaborative works in short film and installation art, with the above-mentioned piece featured in the travelling exhibition Future Africa Visions in Time (2015–2019)
His work has appeared in publications such as Exclaim, Complex, Vogue Germany and Vice Magazine. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.