Joy Katz teaches poetry, creative nonfiction, multigenre workshops, and literature classes to graduate and undergraduate students and in the community.
A few recent courses:
The Uses of Rage
Women poets are warned against “losing control” and being “too emotional” not only by male writers but also by other women. The world will do a lot to unrage a rageful woman, from dismissing her as useless, disruptive, or “merely angry” to outright silencing her. This workshop (for women and female-identified writers) proposes rage as a fertile state for writing. What are the ways rage can enter and power a poem? What are the shades of difference between rage and anger, rage and bitterness, rage and outrage? Together we explore rage in both the form and content of poems. Our models are poems by a wide range of writers old and new—taking as touchstones Audre Lorde, June Jordan, and Allen Ginsberg—that contain, harness, perform, and meditate on rage.
Hot/Not: Emotion in Innovative Poems
What role does feeling have in experimental poems? Sol LeWitt said conceptual art is made to engage the mind, not the emotions. Yet many innovative and conceptual poems do engage emotion. This course looks at the force of feeling in relation to language play, irony, and conceptual strategies. We explore how innovative and experimental poems take on potentially “hot” ideas such as childhood, motherhood, love, sex, and social justice. The idea is to discover the forces that keep experimental poems from being “cold,” and how sentiment, and even sentimentality, work in innovative writing. Recent texts have included Sarah Vap, Maggie Nelson, Russell Atkins, Montana Ray, Farid Matuk, Juliana Spahr, Harryette Mullen, Emily Dickinson, Myung Mi Kim, Joanne Kyger, and others.
Landscapes in poems are as complex as forests, cities, edgelands, and subdivisions in real life. In this course we look carefully at many kinds of poetic landscapes, from coast roads to abandoned buildings to floating islands of plastic waste. The idea is to see how writers use landscape to create a sense of inhabitation (in the world and in a poem) and what effect that can have on a reader. Readings move from pastoral poetry through ecopoetics and have included work by Brenda Hillman, Ed Roberson, Lisa Robertson, Theodore Roethke, Hoa Nguyen, Cathy Park Hong, Thoreau, Charles Wright, Major Jackson, Jack Collom, and others.
21st/20th Century Poetry: A Retrospective Reading
This readings class traces contemporary poetic practices back to their roots. We begin with close readings of new books by poets working in a variety of traditions including confessionalism, narrative, and documentary poetics. Then we read an earlier poet, looking for what the writer has taken from traditions of the 1980s, mid-20th century, and earlier. We consider the cultural context of certain poems, given that they are historical artifacts. But we read mainly to understand how poetic language evolves and to perceive our own, individual poetic lineage. Recent texts: Ross Gay, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude; Bhanu Kapil, The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers; C.D. Wright, One Big Self; Cornelius Eady, Brutal Imagination; Nick Flynn, My Feelings