“We are, I am, you are / by cowardice or courage / the one who find our way…”
—Adrienne Rich, “Diving into the Wreck”
If we think of “mothering” as a radical practice by which we affirm the possibility of life in all its forms, this poetry workshop will allow us to embrace and hold space for our emergent creative works, as well as for ourselves as writers. In this six-week class, we will examine the role of various craft elements (image, line, sound, form, etc.) in the work of women and nonbinary poets, whose writings might “mother” us—in the most expansive sense of the word—in our journey of creative becoming. Each week, we will write new poems and offer feedback on works-in-progress, approaching one another’s writing with holistic concern for our growth as artists. Together, we will co-create a workshop environment in which we might be nurtured as poets and mentored in our efforts to develop the skills and sustainable creative practices needed to craft meaningful literary works.
We will also approach a selection of mentor texts with curiosity and rigor, seeking to understand how each poet’s craft and lived experience might offer us a blueprint for becoming. From Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and Gwendolyn Brooks, to Paul Tran and Chiyuma Elliott, our weekly readings will draw from a variety of aesthetic sensibilities and backgrounds. Collectively, we will explore what it means to draw a sense of lineage from these poets, both canonical and contemporary, whose utterances enable our own, opening space for articulation where previously there was only silence. We’ll find that we have much to learn from these groundbreaking figures, whose journeys map powerful alternatives to the lives represented in the traditional literary canon—that old “book of myths,” as Adrienne Rich says, “in which / our names do not appear.”
Mia Ayumi Malhotra is the author of Notes from the Birth Year, winner of the Bateau Press BOOM Chapbook Contest, and 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.