Corporeal Writing is expanding to officially and specifically include poetry! Our first online class is titled Experiments In Body Poetics: A Poetry Process, Without Perfection, and it starts on September 5th.
With that, I'd like to introduce you to our newest incredibly qualified leader Brigid Yuknavitch. Yup, another Yuknavitch. The stars are aligning. And they are churning and pulling our bodies' languages with them. Poet and psychodrama practitioner Dr. Brigid Yuknavitch taught graduate seminars in poetry, on introducing poetry and poetics, as well as in depth looks at H.D., Dickinson, Sexton, Plath, Harjo, Anzaldua, Lorde and Rich, for ten years before moving on to teaching privately. But, before leaving the traditional university setting, she snagged an M.A. in Jungian Clinical Psychology, becoming a trainer, educator and practitioner in psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy. She has since built her private practice upon the intersection of both, or as she puts it, “What they all have in common—deeply--the creative process and coming into language.”
Lidia said "I learned everything I know about the poetics of all literature from my sister, Brigid, whose classes I took voraciously in graduate school and who read Romeo and Juliet to me when I was ten. You could say that she took me through the portals of Whitman and Dickinson toward language as home. She is one of the most brilliant people I have ever known.” I've asked Brigid to answer a few questions so the Corporeal Community can get to know her better.
ZINN: Corporeal Writing, like its creator, insists on defying genre. It isn't forbidden, of course, to identify yourself as working within, creating towards, a traditional genre, but we don't generally create workshops to speak to one specific genre. Heck, Lidia opens her F2F workshops to artists of all types—poets, painters, sculptors, etc.—becuase making art is making art. Do you share this position with Lidia? Do you feel like your workshops are accessible, welcoming and beneficial to all types of writers?
BRIGID: Yes I do! Focusing on poetry is not so much about genre as it is attending to the threshold between the desire to say and the available language. Poetry is new language. Poetry is as much body as language. Poetry makes language change and creates new ways of being. Substitute the word art for poetry in the previous sentences. Any artist can learn from the dance and music between the body and making or finding form. I love to watch dance for instance, and it offers me new ways into language to see bodies moving in space. I love to feel my body in new ways. I am drawn to poetry in translation because my language looks different to me. Culture will write us, shape us, blind us, silence us, until (as Adrienne Rich put it) “we dead awaken."
ZINN: Corporeal Writing, as created by Lidia who predominately writes a fiction-nonfiction-hybird, is, simply put, writing by and through the body. I'm sure we both agree that idea itself is quite poetic, and would contend that it already takes advantage of many techniques traditionally reserved for poets, as does Lidia, to comprise her intoxicating lyricism and musicality. In fact, many of her teaching techniques rely on employing rather poetic mechanisms; but she doesn't identify as a poet. You do. Does your personal poetic philosophy live within the lines of your inherited discipline? And, in your view, what does your poetry background bring to Corporeal Writing?
BRIGID: I think of myself as having a poetic sensibility because I am very auditory and kinesthetic. I like making meaning with poetic form because I feel that I can include more of what I experience. I am an associative rather than a logical thinker. I like felt logic because it is truer to my experience. I rarely have a narrative, though some poets do. Lidia sustains a narrative and incorporates these more symbolic moves as well.
We’re at an interesting time in the history of poetry. We don’t have to use regular forms and we can. By form I mean patterns of words, sounds, images, and more. Playing with forms can help writers find a fresh relationship to their content, a body for their thought, a surprising awareness, a word up from the sea (Whitman). Other art forms and “genres” are no different. Poetry sits between language we use everyday and our creations, between the body and speaking, between unconscious and conscious being.
ZINN: What advice would you give to someone who might be shy, hesitant, intimidated to take a “poetry” workshop at Corporeal Writing?
BRIGID: These exercises will guide you, however experienced you are. If you don’t know what to write about, they will begin to show you what you have to say. If you have something you want to say they will help you say it. My goal is to support you in finding your voice, your vision, your words and your forms. We’ll see what you’re after. When something catches, follow it. Revision comes later. This is where we “dwell in possibility” (Emily Dickinson). Also, being shy may mean you are excited.
ZINN: Can you give us a little teaser? What you have worked up for your first poetics workshop at Corporeal Writing?
BRIGID: Do these versions of the same words dance differently for you, in you?
- The light shears the table like a voice.
- I am listening to it, hearing tiny vibrations like birds.
- And here are birds behind the light swooping.
- White seagulls away from the sea as if they are doves gone feral, catch the light.
- 5 Soon dogs will come to run in the field below.
- They are not my dogs.
- They love to run across the open ground and back again to someone who brought them here for this.
- The light creates the shadow of my hand on the page. I write in and out of my body.
10 syllable lines (usually a tempering effect)
The light shears the table like a voice. I
am listening to it, hearing tiny bird
vibrations. And here are birds behind the
light swooping. White seagulls away from the
sea as if they are doves gone feral, catch
the light. Soon dogs will come to run in the
field below. They are not my dogs. They love
to run across the open ground and back
again to someone who brought them here for
this. The light creates the shadow of my
hand on the page I write in and out of.
8 syllable lines (usually a transformational effect)
The light shears the table, a voice
I listen to hearing tiny
bird vibrations. and here are birds
behind the light swooping. White gulls
away from the sea as if they
are doves gone feral, catch the light.
Soon dogs will come to run in the field
below. They are not my dogs. They love to run
across the open ground and back
again to someone who brought them here for
this. The light creates the shadow of
my hand on the page I write.
Free form lines (the page vs line alone)
The light shears the table like a voice.
I am listening, hearing tiny vibrations
And here are birds
behind the light swooping. White seagulls
away from the sea as if they are doves gone feral
catch the light.
will come to run in the field below (they are not my dogs)
to run across the open ground and back again to someone
who brought them here for this.The light plays with the shadow of my hand
on the page, my body.
Well, I have zero fancy words to talk about it, but I DO feel these fragments dancing differently in me, and I am very much looking forward to settling a little deeper into my own corporeal art practice in Brigid's workshops. Hope to see you there.