University of Iowa

Poet-ing the Self: Memoir and the Lyric

Weekend July 27 to July 28 2019

Who are we and from where do we come? What are the narratives—true, false, somewhere in-between—that have shaped the music of our lives? How can the poetic form be used to interrogate the self in relation to the family, the world at large, and the world that we can’t often see—the world of the soul? This workshop seeks to create space for the poet to sing of herself/himself/themselves, of experience that emboldens and empowers, enriches and sustains narrative voice, though not just any narrative voice, but that which, at its core, is about the self, in an evolving world that disappoints, delights, sickens, saddens, and more.


This workshop is for anyone interested and invested in using the tenets of memoir to explore the poetic form. In our weekend, we will discuss how to craft poetry about the self that also incorporates tensions from the larger socio-political landscape, as well as relationships that bear on the self and the soul. We will read poems by poets such as Terrance Hayes, Elizabeth Alexander, Danez Smith, Morgan Parker, Charif Shanahan, Nicole Sealey, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Yona Harvey, and Ocean Vuong, among others. We will also use prompts and writing exercises to generate new poetry. The workshop welcomes all poets—beginning, advanced, and those in-between.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts; provide feedback on writing you bring from home or produce in our weekend.

Hybrid Forms