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Grief, like good poetry, isn't linear. It's rarely straightforward, often confusing. It circles and lifts, eddies and fades, then comes back all the sudden to punch you in the gut when you least expect it. Sometimes it's furious, sometimes persistent, and sometimes even sweet.
Most of language fails us when it comes to grief, which is why we need a practice of reviving the basic tools we have to talk about what we've gone through, are still going through.
Poetry can be that practice: messy, personal, reaching, revelatory.
For National Poetry Month, Scalawag takes our grief and other loves on the road; We're hosting writing workshops with poets across the South to create spaces we can gather in community where we can struggle to find the words together.
Three in-person and one virtual workshop are scheduled so far, with more to come. Learn a little bit about the poets hosting workshops in your area, and sign up below. Spots are limited. These spaces are Black-centering, but everyone ages 16 and up are welcome.
Grief as Groceries
with Amanda Furdge
April 1, 11 a.m. — 1 p.m. CST
Jackson, Mississippi @ The Mississippi Museum of Art
Explore ways to creatively use what you have to develop personal recipes for (self) preservation in the wake of emotional grief. Together we'll go 'grocery shopping,' borrowing from rich Southern culinary traditions. The end result will be lists, recipes, and poetic meals that can nourish our hearts and souls.
Amanda Furdge (Shelby) is a God-fearing and God-full Black Mississippian organizer, revolutionary, and cultural worker. At thirty-five years old, she is a leading figure in the universal Black Arts Movement and has written, published, and contributed to countless creative expressions of her own as well as many others across the globe. Amanda considers her most noteworthy accomplishments to be found within the eyes, smiles, ideas, and attitudes of her three beloved sons Titan, Mega, and Seven. Nothing is more valuable, liberating or empowering to Amanda than love.
Loves, Names & Odes
with Ariana Brown
April 4, 7 p.m. — 8:30 p.m CST
Virtual, via Zoom
Some of the strongest feelings we have are about people we've loved and lost. Ariana will guide participants in writing odes to themselves and their loved ones. Participants will consider the power of our own names, the strength of self-love, and the love we share with others.
Ariana Brown is a queer Black Mexican American poet, creative writing teacher, and librarian based in Houston. She is the author of We Are Owed. (Grieveland, 2021), Sana Sana (Game Over Books, 2020), a 2014 national collegiate poetry slam champion, and has been teaching and performing poetry for 13 years.
The Unending Hereafter
with Crystal Simone Smith
April 12, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. EST
Durham, NC @ Rofhiwa Books
Racial violence echoes heavily. Black communities are often re-traumatized in processes to seek justice for those killed unjustly. In this grief workshop, participates are invited to construct erasure poems that reflect the continuous police violence we face and the losses we are tasked to survive.
Crystal Simone Smith is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Routes Home, and Running Music. She is also the author of Wildflowers: Haiku, Senryu, and Haibun. Her work has appeared in numerous journals. She is an alumna of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop and the Yale Summer Writers Conference. She holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and lives in Durham, NC with her husband and two sons where she teaches English Composition and Creative Writing. She is the Managing Editor of Backbone Press. Her latest book Dark Testament, released this January, gives voice to the mournful dead, their lives unjustly lost to violence, and to the grieving chorus of protestors in today's Black Lives Matter movement, in search of resilience and hope.
"Get Over," "Move On."
with Alysia Nicole Harris
April 26, 7 – 8:30 p.m. CST
Dallas, TX @ Wild Detectives
This workshop leads participants through a series of writing exercises exploring the role that prepositions and directions play in the processes of grief and healing. Much of the time, the language we use assumes a linear and time-bound process that doesn't match our complicated experiences of grief. Together, we'll write to find more productive angles in which to view and move through loss.
Alysia Nicole Harris, Ph.D. is a poet, linguist, international performer, arts writer, and charismatic follower of Jesus. She is the author of the chapbook How Much We Must Haved Looked Like Stars to Stars, a collegiate and youth poetry slam champion, and founding member of the spoken word collective The Strivers Row. Alysia has performed in over 20 countries and now lives in Corsicana, TX where she serves as Scalawag's Arts & Soul Editor-At-Large. She received her Ph.D. from Yale in Linguistics and her MFA in Creative Writing from NYU.
with Victoria Newton Ford
with Aurielle Marie
more from grief & other loves
Grief and Love, Outside the Changes
Six-time Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist and host of the podcast "Great Grief" Nnenna Freelon discusses love, death, and growing through the changes on her first album in about a decade.
There is no healing in an antiblack world
'We know what it means to be profiled, criminalized, incarcerated, and murdered by police. That trauma doesn't die with us.'
Successors and failures: Adulting after death
A Black Millennial homeowner navigates complex feelings after inheriting the family home, grieving the mighty loss of the woman who left it to her.