Online | Poetry | Seminar

4-Week Online Poetry Seminar: Pump Up the Volume: Poetry & the Music Video

In this 4-week seminar, we will explore music videos, beginning with "Video Killed the Radio Star," reigning supreme in the 80s and 90s, and continuing to the enduring presence of music videos today. We’ll also examine how social media (like TikTok) serves as an extension of their power on popular culture.

What began as promotion work for a popular song, the music video started to be widely broadcast on television in the early 1980s, and singers and bands quickly began seeing this as another artistic opportunity to elevate their work. How and when did music videos, then, become like poetry in motion? What techniques were utilized in making them? Which videos today use poetic devices to create lasting artistic impressions, and in turn, how can poets be inspired by them?

We will be looking at the nature of how music videos heighten, elevate, and even complicate the lyrics of their songs, looking for motifs, metaphors and other poetic devices that might speak to how poets write about music specifically and pop culture in general. Together we will do some in-class writing exercises, with some additional prompts to help you further your poem drafts outside of class. We’ll draw inspiration from work by authors like Willie Perdomo, D. A. Powell, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Natalie Diaz, Porsha Olayiwola, and more.

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.


- Generate many new ideas and new work as possible

- Foster in lively, engaged discussion on the readings by poets writing about music/music videos

- Identify poetic elements in music videos as well as how music itself plays a crucial roles in film

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


The main goal of this class is for students to generate as much new work as possible. During this 4-week seminar, students should expect to have in-depth discussions on the assigned poems and participate in new generative exercises. Course reading load for each week is 2-3 poems and 1-2 essays of 4-5 pages; short videos will also be included.

While students are expected to generate new work in class and students may share some of their in-class writing inspired by prompts given by the instructor, there is not any formal workshop component to this course.


Week 1: Gotta Have My MTV: Origins

Week 2: Black Hole Suns to Hotline Bling: Poetic Elements in Music Videos

Week 3: Poets, Kill Your Darling {Radio Stars}: Poets on the Music Video

Week 4: If You Leave {Don't Look Back}: Music in Film

Rosebud Ben-Oni

Rosebud Ben-Oni is the winner of the 2019 Alice James Award for If This Is the Age We End Discovery, forthcoming in 2021, and the author of turn around, BRXGHT XYXS (Get Fresh Books, 2019). She is a recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and CantoMundo. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review,, The Poetry Review (UK), Tin House, Guernica, Black Warrior Review, Prairie Schooner, and Electric Literature, among others. She writes for The Kenyon Review blog and recently edited a chemistry poetry portfolio for Pleiades. Find her at


"In turn around BRXGHT XYXS, Rosebud Ben-Oni opens by summoning Matarose—her alter-ego “muse on roller skates”—a wildly original voice that channels K-pop, hip hop, and the intersectional mestiza soul of the entire borough of Queens to create a sound-driven howling lyric paean—an ecstatic queer broken love-song that’s equal parts Bonnie Tyler and bible, Prince and prayer, and 100% pure desire. Ben-Oni’s poems conjure fierce feminist magic to create a simultaneous ode and lament of a book that reminds us we are the sum of all the parts of our selves: our roots and contradictory loves, all the things we’re born into and out of, the corporeal experiences we only sometimes choose—and she brings it all home with power, humor, grace, and lines like this: “This is my blood and this / my body this time / you won’t betray me / I am your kingdom come.”"

Erika Meitner poet

"Mercy, these poems will reawaken a wilderness you swore you’d lost the map to. Ben-Oni is doing sacred work here, strutting across the asperous terrain of our modern world with a queer femme sovereignty that intoxicates and heals; at the center of each poem, a fragrant mosh pit. These are the ruthless texts we bitches deserve—poems that drive their readers into feral ascension—until the claws can’t be pulled back in."

Rachel McKibbens poet

"Rosebud Ben-Oni is her own genre.”

poet Dorothy K. Chan on “I Guess We’ll Have to Be Secretly in Love with Each Other & Leave It at That”

"When I started Rosebud’s workshop, I was looking to nurture a flare for creative writing that was in serious danger of dying out. Luckily, she was the perfect teacher to stoke that fire. Beyond putting together a syllabus that stretched our concepts of what poetry could be, she encouraged me and my peers to dip into the strange and the silly as we interpreted the prompts we were given. Her celebration of our growth and her thoughtful questions also gave me a model for feedback that I continue to employ when working through new writing with friends. I recommend to just about everyone I know that they try taking a workshop with Rosebud: she's a poet's poet, a teacher's teacher, and a champion for the kind of exploration, creativity, and fun that I needed to fall in love with writing again."

Patrick Mullen-Coyoy former student

"Poetry workshop with Rosebud was a wonderfully exciting and supportive space where I felt safe enough to experiment and take risks with my poems. Her writing prompts provoked me to ask deeper questions of myself and the class helped me grow immensely, both as a reader and a poet. The syllabus was rich in poetry, essays, music, and videos that encouraged lively classroom discussion and powerful, engaged writing. What strikes me most about Rosebud is her big-hearted generosity and genuine interest and delight in having her students succeed."

Yamini Pathak former student

"Rosebud is by far one of the best mentors I’ve had in a workshop setting. Her materials are thought-provoking and inspirational, and they challenge students to explore, play, and experiment. Her comments are always insightful and she creates a supportive environment where students are encouraged to be themselves, as well as to interact with each other both within and beyond the workshop. She’s generous in her feedback and with the time she dedicates to each student and is always willing to answer questions and help in any way she can."

Leonora Simonovis former student

“Rosebud Ben-Oni's poetry is exquisite and astounding. This is a poet who is going places.”


"I experience much boredom these days with the world and its predictable cruelties or poetry and its predictable safeties. This phenomenon of a book launches me with its wonder into space and the multiverse and then somehow discovers compassion where we might expect to find only absence of heat or light. Ben-Oni rides with and wrestles the horse of theory to the event horizon's brink, and at the point that empirical proof can take her no further, love transmutes undoing into possibility unimagined."


“Through these breathtakingly elegant poems, Rosebud Ben-Oni proves once and for all that poetry and science are sisters. If This Is the Age We End Discovery maps, like a series of carefully wrought equations, the physics of connection and loss. What does a love song echo against when it spins into space? What symmetries and risks are woven into our very code? How do we live wired for uncertainty, in the yawn of a universe we can’t control? Readers will find it impossible to escape this collection’s unparalleled gravitational pull.”