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Emily Dickinson Archives (poetic lab)

The class visited the Emily Dickinson archives in Houghton Library, led by curator Christine Jacobson.

Take 1-3 photographs of the poems with your phone of a poem or object in the case. Consider reframing the poems/lines/glass/objects in a unique way that helps us to read the poems through your lens.

Poems in vitrine were “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” and “Safe in their Alabaster Chambers”


Sky Hopinka (poetic lab)

Unconference Activity

Choose two themes/questions/insights you have on Sky Hopinka’s workin relation to the course discussion. Create organic group.


Creative Gesture

Discuss the questions you’ve raised. Now, working with your partner, create a creative writing prompt in response to Sky Hopinka’s films and/or writing. Consider the themes, dimensions, feelings, and textures brought up in class. Type the prompt and send or type on google doc. Discussion: Why did you chose to create this prompt? Please provide rational.

Result: Asma and Chen

Choose one example of a “secondary text (images, footnotes, concrete poems, video links, etc.)” from the book and create a creative writing piece that speaks to how “main text” and “secondary text” are defined and the interaction between them.

You could consider:

  1. Translate the chosen “text” into another form of expression (e.g. from footnote to concrete poem, from video links to video transcript) that fits with Sky Hopinka’s writing and films
  2. Rewrite a section of your choice into the Theresa Hak Kyung Cha/Claudia Rankine’s style and consider where (if anywhere) (part of) of it belongs in Cha/Rankine’s works.

How does the creative writing process inform your understanding of the main/secondary texts and the form of a book in general?

Result: Mary and Kelsey

Anti-Objects, Or Space Without Path Or Boundary by Sky Hopinka is a rumination on the prevalence of the language Chinuk wawa as descriptors of geography and to think of these images of signs and maps beyond their objecthood–as anti-objects. Think of a photograph or image that calcifies something important to your identity and describe it.

Result: Milo and Jess

Write about a location that makes you feel closer to a part of your identity from which you sometimes feel alienated. You might take inspiration from Dislocation Blues or other films by Sky Hopinka.


Claudia Rankine (poetic lab)


Jess Erion

“Such an unlikely site of death. But every winter, that’s what it is. All white, gray, brown, coming up out of the pavement. I wonder about the suffering of the students. We never get to hear them, crying. Where do they go to cry? The tears come in public, on trains, while walking. When you cry in the open, it’s as if it didn’t happen at all. There are no averted eyes, because they didn’t see you in the first place. Closed hearts, sullen mouths bleed contempt. Blood on the snow. Or is that blood? No matter. One day the snow will melt.”


Milo Davidson

The identity of the place is closely tied with the color of its buildings. I see a lot of burgundy, I often get lost in Harvard Yard. Sometimes, I wish strangers would hold hands. What if we lived in a world where everything could only be opened using three hands. Three is the number of red, of luck, much like the red-brick of this place. We are indistinguishable from our histories and the steps that trod before us. I passed the strangers! A stranger wearing red, as red as the three hounds. Why does this color dog me? Because I cannot distinguish it from green.


Chen Xiaocheng

I, Pensive—an innateness
of endless thought,
difficult to suppress.
Air bubbles up, life bubbles up,
from under the lazy water
the static of the television
when I held my hand to the
glass. I almost felt something.
Combination1 feels like static on the
an endless fizzing desperation.
this must be what numbness feels like.
But numbness was never really a problem, was it?
Change the Channel.
I listened, and did nothing.


Mary Neguse

there is kinship in shared city cadences
but city belongs to the king
the king. Yes, the king, who has died
leaving the city without a monarch.
We will be our own stately presence in the throne room.
I want to live with a crown and medieval fantasies. I want to read.
I turn off the screen and the fantasy disappears.
there is no king, no crown – just a city
with aching empty cadences.
I want to live inside its emptiness.


For Citizen, we completed two special poetic labs. One on tangible media and “animating” Citizen by LED lights, as well as discussion. In addition to the workshop, we spoke via Skype with scholar and feminist Alex Juhasz and poet Chet’la Sabree who conducted a workshop at Claudia’s home in New Haven for a special workshop on video, poetry, and race with filmmaker John Lucas, in conversation with Alex’s project “10 Tries, 100 Poems blog.”