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CHASING THE POEM / A Virtual Workshop Marathon for Emerging Poets

February 22 @ 7:00 pm March 15 @ 9:00 pm PST

From Tuesday, Feb 22, to Tuesday, Mar 15, Massy Arts and Massy Books host a virtual poetry workshop marathon for emerging writers, in four courses created by published Canadian poets to demystify poetry writing, to present useful writing prompts, to incite imagination, and to address political and linguistic points of view through poetic literature.

The classes – conducted by Neil Surkan, Ellie Sawatzky, Isabella Wang, and Hasan Namir – will be held through Zoom in an exclusively online method, with 2-hours long experimental courses that will mix literary theory, artistic expression, and chase the poem within attendees’ real of aesthetic delirium.

By the end of this writing marathon, students will have received feedback about their writing by artists in production, aware of the market’s demands – but also aware of poetry’s potential to take creativity beyond the limits of language. Chosen poems – if authorized by authors – will also be featured at Massy Art’s website, and social media platforms.

Click here to register for Chasing The Poem

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Chasing The Poem – A unique opportunity for emerging writers

Whether an emerging poet, unpublished author, poetry enthusiast, or someone searching for new ways of expressing their creativity – Chasing The Poem will connect our creative community in four exclusive courses:

Feb 22 – Tue – 7pm to 9pm – Zoom

Breeze/Blocks: Making Space in your Stanzas

by Neil Surkan

March 03 – Thu – 7pm to 9pm – Zoom

The Free Write

by Ellie Sawatzky

March 08 – Tue – 7pm to 9pm – Zoom

Where We Are Now: Poetry’s Place and Return to the Returning Body

by Isabella Wang

March 15 – Tue – 7pm to 9pm – Zoom

Languageless: Reconciling Between Languages

by Hasan Namir

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Mentors + Themes

Breeze/Blocks: Making Space in your Stanzas

by Neil Surkan

In his essay “On Poetry and Uncertain Subjects,” Jack Underwood writes that as a poet you must “deliberately build your poem as an open habitation; you have to learn to leave holes in the walls.” In this workshop, we will read, discuss (i.e., savour!), and write in response to poems by contemporary poets who innovatively engage language’s flexible counterpart: the blank space between words, lines, and stanzas.

The workshop will interplay craft-based analysis of poems by Emily Berry, Tracy K. Smith, and Franz Wright with brief writing exercises that participants can return to in future writing sessions.

In turn, we will wonder, How might engaging blank space invite readers in to collaborate? Where might an interruption or erasure open a poem’s possibilities?

When might silence say as much as any word?

Mentor’s words:

How might shaking up our language make us more attentive friends, partners, parents, allies, and neighbours? I love reading poems that draw me into a productive feeling of uncertainty – that challenge my assumptions and complicities. Writing poems, by extension, refreshes the way I use language and reminds me that every instance of communication is a marvellous opportunity to be gentler, subtler, and more open.

Bio:

Neil Surkan was born in Penticton, BC. He is the author of the poetry collections Unbecoming (Fall 2021) and On High (2018), both from McGill-Queen’s University Press, and the chapbooks Their Queer Tenderness (Knife-Fork-Book, 2020) and Super, Natural (Anstruther Press, 2017). His poems and reviews have appeared in numerous Canadian literary magazines. Neil earned a PhD in English from the University of Calgary in 2021 after completing an MA-CRW at the University of Toronto and a BA (Hons) at the University of Victoria. He currently lives and teaches in Nanaimo, on the traditional and unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, with Luca, Edi, and Lloyd.

Click here to purchase On High by Neil Surkan

Click here to purchase Unbecoming by Neil Surkan

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The Free Write

by Ellie Sawatzky

In this workshop, I will explore the concept of the “free write” and discuss improvisational writing as a practice. We will discuss all the ways in which the writing process can be hindered— “writer’s block,” perfectionism, time constraints, health constraints, distractions, etc.—and how free writing can help you enter a flow state, can help you say “yes” to your ideas more easily, and generate material in a low-stakes (and maybe even fun?!) way.

I will share my free writing practice, and introduce free writing from prompts. I will discuss timed free writing, from prompts and without prompts, and I will discuss my blog/Instagram account IMPROMPTU and what I love about writing from prompts. I’ll share some examples of my own poems that I’ve written during free writes and from prompts, and use some other poems as examples as well. Collective reading of poetry will be a component.

Then we will move through some exercises; we will create a collective word pool, I will offer non-prescriptive prompts, set a timer, and we will freewrite. I will allow time for sharing and discussion afterwards. It is my intention that participants leave this workshop feeling inspired and empowered to create work in a way that feels good for them.

Mentor’s words:

How to start writing? What to write about? Where to go from there? Free writing has helped me, personally, to bring more joy and ease to my writing practice, to say “yes” to my ideas, and to write in a way that fits my lifestyle and feels good for me. Join us for Massy Arts Society’s 2022 Poetry Residency, where you’ll receive tips, prompts, readings, and challenges to help you imagine or reimagine a writing practice that is surprising, invigorating, and liberating.

Bio:

Ellie Sawatzky is a Vancouver-based poet, writer, editor, teacher, and creative consultant. With a BFA and MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, she works professionally as an editor, writing coach, and mentor. In 2019, she was a finalist for the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, for a manuscript of selected poems from a full-length collection. Her first poetry chapbook, Rhinocerotic (Frog Hollow Press), was published in 2018. Recipient of the 2017 Foster Poetry Prize, and runner-up for the Thomas Morton Memorial Prize, her poetry and fiction have been published widely in literary journals and anthologies such as Grain, The Fiddlehead, PRISM international, The Maynard, Best Canadian Poetry, The Matador Review, Prairie Fire, The Puritan, and Room. None of This Belongs to Me, her debut poetry collection, was published by Nightwood Editions in 2021.

Click here to purchase None of This Belongs to Me by Ellie Sawatzky

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Where We Are Now: Poetry’s Place
and Return to the Returning Body

by Isabella Wang

What is the body returning to?

If we are to call our anticipated meetings back in-person with each other following the ongoing upending resonances of pandemic years a return to something? To something we love, but something also unfamiliar, forgotten, and that we feel distanced in our bodies from?

How to orient ourselves in poetry?

In our bodily orientations to place, the city, intimacy of everyday objects, and with each other?

In this workshop, we will explore the poetic spaces that collect our stories, our memories, and also the orientation of our bodies. What is queerness in this context? What can be written and shared about the feeling of queer returns? Public returns?

Returns to the surroundings communities that have defined our feeling at home while being stuck at home, longing for alternatives?

Mentor’s words:

The thing about taking a plant out of its original receptacle, fetching it from the store to a new pot in a new home, is that few perceive this act of transference as a traumatic experience for the plant. You have to do it slowly, like milking a cat: knead the round knob of your palms inward, up and down, while maintaining a firm press to loosen the roots from this current form that have given them their shape. If you do it right, with enough patience and care, the letting go process becomes a natural conversion from one pot to another. When you tilt the pot into your hand, it should fall out easily. If not, and the plant senses stress, it detaches itself from the roots and it dies. To move the plant, now exposed, replant it, water it, you have to give the soil a little massage. My best friend taught me this. A plant, fresh out of the store-bought container, will be firm, have a thin, cylindrical shape. Simply plot it in the new container and it cannot grow and mould itself to its new surroundings. You have to free and levitate the soil, make it almost melt in your hands, then fill in the remaining gaps with new soil, the right type of soil. Set the plant under sufficient sun, not too much sun, water it, but not with too much water. A beautiful vase can be decorative and end up killing the plant—life within—if it is too small, too wide, too deep. In this way, every poem is just a plant with roots and substance, looking for its forever home. ∞

Bio:

Isabella Wang is the author of the chapbook, On Forgetting a Language (Baseline Press 2019), and her full-length debut, Pebble Swing (Nightwood Editions, 2021). Among other recognitions, she was most recently shortlisted for Arc’s Poem of the Year contest, as well as the Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Contest and Long Poem Contest. Her poetry and prose have appeared in over thirty literary journals and three anthologies. She is completing a double-major in English and World Literature at SFU, and is an editor at Room magazine.

Click here to purchase Pebble Swing by Isabella Wang

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Languageless: Reconciling Between Languages

by Hasan Namir

Join Iraqi-Canadian author Hasan Namir for a free verse poetry workshop that focuses on methods of incorporating different languages into the work.

He will be sharing his own experience with writing poetry that incorporates Arabic and English. He will go over free verse poetry writing and will share his examples from his poetry book War/Torn, focusing specifically on the reconciliation of his mother tongue language which is Arabic and English, the language that he learned after he immigrated to Canada.

Writers will have opportunities to write free-verse poetry and find their own reconciliation between their languages.

Mentor’s words:

The concept that I have for this poetry workshop comes from my own struggle with finding balance between Arabic and English. I still struggle with that sometimes to this day. I experimented with Arabic and English in my poetry book War/Torn. With this workshop, I want to invite aspiring poetry writers, specifically inviting authors who speak and write in more than one language, other than English. I want to share my experience writing poems that had both Arabic and English and I will be using examples from War/Torn. I will also give the class a lot of opportunities to write free-verse poetry and some of the writing prompts will allow writers to incorporate languages that are of significance to them.

Bio:

Hasan Namir is an Iraqi-Canadian writer, whose debut novel God in Pink won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction at the 28th Lambda Literary Awards. He is a graduate of Simon Fraser University, and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. God in Pink, a novel about a gay man living in Baghdad during the Iraq War, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2015. In 2019 he was named one of “19 Canadian writers to watch in 2019” by the CBC. His poetry book War / Torn was released on April 10, 2019, and was shortlisted for a Stonewall Book Award in 2020.

Click here to purchase Umbilical Cord by Hasan Namir

Click here to purchase God in Pink by Hasan Namir

Click here to purchase War / Torn by Hasan Namir

Click here to purchase The Name I Call Myself by Hasan Namir + Cathryn John

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Click here to register for Chasing The Poem

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Details

Start:
February 22 @ 7:00 pm PST
End:
March 15 @ 9:00 pm PST