In this eight-week course, we’ll be studying queer poetry and pose by authors of color and examining how those poets broke traditional form as a vehicle for resistance. To that end, we’ll be looking at poems and essays from historical and contemporary queer writers such as Audre Lorde, Faylita Hicks, Safia Ehillo, Jacqui Germain, Jose Ortiz, Jericho Brown, Dorothy Chan, Tiana Clark, Franny Choi, and many others.
Each week, students will craft a poem in response to prompts that emerge from our reading. The goal of these poems should be to challenge us and push the boundaries of our traditional writing styles. Classes will consist of half discussion and analyzing readings and half workshopping and generating new work. This course is open to all experience levels, those new to writing and those with previous workshop experience.
During class discussions, students should expect to discuss how sexuality gets coded into aesthetics and innovative forms. What’s the relationship between sexuality and style? What formal traditions are broken in these writings, and how can queer artists apply these techniques to their own writing and step outside of the cannon?
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.
- A new understanding and appreciation for the impact of queer poetry and a new lens from which to view its place in and outside the literary cannon
- The ability to recognize and evaluate technical forms of poetry and the ability to break traditional forms—not only to challenge social constructs/norms, but to make a powerful social statement
- A new critical framework for which to navigate, access, critique, and examine poetry by queer authors of color.
- The ability to engage in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly
- Critical feedback from honest and authentic peers
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will be asked to respond to the reading assignments/selected poems on a weekly basis via class discussion and the class platform. Students will generate writing each week that will be workshopped by their peers and the instructor with the hopes of applying what we’ve learned from the selected weekly poems.
We will begin each class with 1-2 students giving a 5-10 minute, low-stress presentation about queer reading that excites them. This can be anything—an image, a video, a song, a poem, or paragraph—as long as it engages with queerness. At the end of the class, students will be required to present a final written project and presentation to the class, demonstrating how their writing responds to the work we’ve read in class.
Week 1: Persona Poem, Epistolary Form
Week 2: Address- Workshop and Reflect
Week 3: Breaking Love- Workshop
Week 4: Characterize Using Form; Vignettes and Recipes- Workshop
Week 5: Taking and Repurposing Forms
Week 6: Make a Mess
Week 7: Broken Sestina and Free-Verse
Week 8: Final Presentation - Notes on the Line
Khalisa Rae is a poet and journalist in Durham, NC that speaks with furious rebellion. She is the author of Ghost in a Black Girl's Throat. Her essays are featured in Autostraddle, Catapult, LitHub, and others. Her poetry appears in Frontier Poetry, Florida Review, Rust & Moth, PANK, Hellebore, Sundog Lit, and HOBART. Currently, she serves as Assistant Editor for Glass Poetry and co-founder of Think in Ink and the Women of Color Speak reading series. Her second collection Unlearning Eden is forthcoming from White Stag Publishing. Follow at @k_lisarae on Twitter. Her website is khalisarae.com
"GHOST IN A BLACK GIRL'S THROAT pursues agency, selfhood, and disturbing meditations on inhumanity. These poems deliver truth and rage with the precision of a visionary heart and the rancid tears of a poisoned ghost. This powerful collection bears witness to the fraught overlap between women’s bodies and minds. GHOST IN A BLACK GIRL'S THROAT reframes the Black body politic as sacrament, benediction, delicacy, and tenderness."
"These verses are timeless refrains sizzling on parched tongues. All praises for the testament of these poems that bring a full communion of blessed assurances to wise women daring oceans to erase our footprints and to wild girls chasing winds that steal the scent of herstory."
"GHOST IN A BLACK GIRL'S THROAT resurrects the ancestral spirits of the not-so-distant past. In the poems of Khalisa Rae, ghosts become guardians—protectors of black healing, black truth, and black power. They live in the boldness of 'Counterfeit,' as chants that proclaim, 'This black be authentic. This black be original. This melanated music be off the market.' They live in the graces of 'Body Apology,' as roots that require nurture—bodies to be 'planted,' not 'plucked.'They live in the lands of “Our Pastoral Blues”—stolen, appropriated, 'broken' but 'locked in formation, weaving.' Our hauntings, our ghosts, our pain—the deepest of hues, heavy and harrowing—live as we do in the here and now, awaiting rest. GHOST IN A BLACK GIRL'S THROAT honors the dead as the living, speaking new life into all that weighs on black women—by freeing the voices of those who have been silenced, bringing peace to the restless who are powerless no more."
"Rae considers the intersection of history and modernity in the American South in her provocative debut. Readers will be taken by the sometimes dangerous world Rae conjures."
"In the buoyant writings of Khalisa Rae, you will sense many influences. You can hear the loneliness and the husky crunch of Morrison’s Southern Gothic. You’ll find the graceful oratory of Maya Angelou woven with earthy visuals that call Zora Neale Hurston to mind. As such, GIABGT firmly plants itself in a longstanding tradition of outstanding Black women’s writing. Both spellbinding and spell-breaking, Rae’s earnest cries are calls to both action and freedom."
"This book and workshop was a gorgeous journey, poems that bear testimony to beauty, pain, healing, and haunting. A celebration of Black womanhood and an unearthing of family history as rebirth and renewal. Grateful to learn from these poems, too, in style and form, and how to meaningfully put together wide-ranging poems into a cohesive full-length collection. Rae deserves her flowers for this brilliant book"
"Hi I just wanted to say a big thank you for the workshop just now - it was absolutely amazing and got me out of a rut I’ve been in for the past week! Loved finding so many great new poets to read too."
"I really enjoyed your workshop with Luminaries the other day. I learned so much and would definitely take it again. "
"I received so many compliments on your workshop this past week. You should definitely host that again. It was one of the best workshops I have ever been to. "