It can be difficult, in these trying times, to make space for praise, or to notice the occasion for it. It is easy to believe it, even, selfish. (“Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home,” writes Szymborska.) But to find in dark times things to praise is not to be ignorant of suffering—it is to, despite our suffering, survive. In this workshop, we will look to poems by poets like Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Franz Wright, Pablo Neruda, Joy Harjo, and Gregory Orr that praise the erotic, the mundane, the difficult, and the divine and learn through them how better to recognize the light in our lives.
This class will be taught by Leila Chatti. A Tunisian-American dual citizen, she has lived in the United States, Tunisia, and Southern France. She is the author of the debut full-length collection Deluge, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2020, and the chapbooks Ebb (New-Generation African Poets) and Tunsiya/Amrikiya, the 2017 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press. She holds a B.A. from the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University and an M.F.A. from North Carolina State University, where she was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. She is the recipient of grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, and fellowships and scholarships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, The Frost Place Conference on Poetry, the Key West Literary Seminars, and Dickinson House. Her poems have received prizes from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, Narrative’s 30 Below Contest, and the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, among others, and appear in Best New Poets (2015 & 2017), Ploughshares, Tin House, American Poetry Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review, New England Review, Kenyon Review Online, Narrative, The Rumpus, and other journals and anthologies. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize. She currently serves as the Consulting Poetry Editor at the Raleigh Review and lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where she is the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Writing and Publishing at Cleveland State University.