of this painful world.” – Basho
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 generative 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 as we write our own (fully, painfully) aware poems of celebration and ecstasy.
Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet and author of Deluge (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), winner of the 2021 Levis Reading Prize, the 2021 Luschei Prize for African Poetry, and longlisted for the 2021 PEN Open Book Award, and four chapbooks. Her honors include multiple Pushcart Prizes, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and Cleveland State University, where she was the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Publishing and Writing. Her poems appear in The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The Atlantic, POETRY, and elsewhere. She currently teaches at Smith College, where she is the Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence.