Nests, Spirals & Blooms: Poetic Structure in the Natural World FULL-Wait List Only
Dates: 4 Tuesdays, October 5 - 26
Time: 6 - 8 pm PST
Instructor: Mia Ayumi Malhotra
“[T]hink of a fiddlehead fern, whirlpool, hurricane, horns twisting from a ram’s head, or a chambered nautilus,” writes novelist Jane Alison. “Those natural patterns have inspired visual artists and architects for centuries. Why wouldn’t they form our narratives, too?”
In this poetry workshop, we will examine a series of natural forms to deepen our writing practice and to discover new possibilities. How can a bird’s nest teach us creative process? What might a snail shell show us about poetic structure? In the company of poets like Camille Dungy, Forrest Gander, Danielle Vogel, Jennifer S. Cheng, Donika Kelly, and others, we will discover what it means to write in response to the (re)generative forms of the natural world.
This class will be highly exploratory in nature and accessible to all writers and artists who seek renewed inspiration from their surroundings. Each week, we will investigate a different natural form, examining its relationship to poetic and visual texts in order to fashion new work of our own. We will weave word-nests from memory and other scavenged material, map spirals of the self through time, cultivate the sensuous symmetry of poetic blooms, and more. Class readings will draw from a diverse range of texts, including contemporary works of poetry, botanical studies, art books, and natural history.
Through group discussion, writing exercises, and other creative prompts, we will unearth the ancient relationship between poetry and plants. It is no accident that the word “book” comes from “beech” or that, at its origins, the anthology is a “gathering of flowers.” Indeed, these shared roots may be just what we need to sustain our creative life as poets and writers.
Mia Ayumi Malhotra is the author of Isako Isako, a California Book Award finalist and winner of the Alice James Award, the Nautilus Gold Award, a National Indie Excellence Award, and a Maine Literary Award. She is the recipient of the Hawker Prize for Southeast Asian Poetry and the Singapore Poetry Prize, and she holds creative writing degrees from Stanford University and the University of Washington.
Mia's poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Yale Review, Indiana Review, and Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience.