The Poetry of Witness
On this course, we will explore the role of the poet as a witness-bearer in society. Defining the “poetry of witness” as a term of literary art, Carolyn Forche says, “poem’s witness is not a recounting, is not mimetic narrative, is not political confessionalism, and it is not simply an act of memory.”
Bearing witness can be an ethical or political act. Living in a time of chaos, austerity and impoverishment alongside worldwide xenophobia and racism—how do we capture our complex times in poetry? What are the characteristics of this literature of witness? During this course we will dedicate our time to writing poetry, and enjoy individual writing time, group workshops, and sessions discussing the long and illustrious line of poets who were witness-bearers including Anna Akhmatova, Dunya Mikhail, Czeslaw Milosz and Gwendolyn Brooks, among others.