Climate and Culture: a generative talk and workshop

Event Type

Please join us as we share ideas, texts, and creative practices integrating poetry and cultural critique and toward ceasing the destruction of ecosystems, habitats, biomes, communities and other climate consequences. We’ll also consider poetic practices that examine colonialist/ appropriative cultural mindsets, restore relationships, and help us to think about moving through climate crises into new relational contexts and systems. 

Workshop leaders will spend some time sharing research, investigations, practices, and creative projects before opening the space to discussion and writing activities. We’ll draw on a decolonial poetics of relational healing, urban walking, southern literature, and close engagement with natural and cultural environments and we’ll invite participants into exploratory exercises for generating ideas and creative works toward a critical and potentially healing poetics of climate and culture.

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Sound as Method: Somatic Exercises 

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We create and receive sound through the body, whether heard or not. Four experiential writers share sound exercises as they relate to writing practices.  

SABRINA DALLA VALLE Does making sound more dimensional make it more true? The podcast vocalscape is seen as an auditive framework, a potential sound space for centering in the listener’s own story—the in-between story possibly being the true sound space. In this presentation, we will practice hearing with the soul, listening not to words— but to powers, through a guided experience of different vocalscapes.   

AMBER DiPIETRA Let us consider situations in which the method of production is the work of art. I have had a chronic illness for 42 years. I am physically disabled, and I am mostly blind. The physical production of poetry and other installation work is now my product. The way my body functions completely dictates the form and content of the work I make—like audio journaling constrained by technical limits and textual editing bounded by my waning ability to scan the eye over a block of text. 

EMGEE DUFRESNE: Is it possible to enter a practice of writing grounded in the somatic?  How can the senses become a vessel for poetic possibility?  I explore these questions with an experiment using titration, sound via a tuning fork and singing bowl. This will be documented for the audience by someone receiving abdominal work, while stimulated by these sounds.

DENISE LETO When do voice and silence become beacons or burdens of embodied poetics? I have a neuro-speech and chronic pain disability which has transformed my relationship to poetry and movement. How can speech and poetry involve a vocabulary of imagination and a kinesthesia of connection within non-normative vocalizations? My creative art practice now involves collaborations in sound/text art, dance, and video. To explore these questions, I will share exercises in how to create a more embodied trust field together through vibrational and silent meditation, sensory resonance, movement and observation of breath cycles.

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Street University

Poetry Garden

Event Type

Poet Ross Gay once said, “Poems are made of breath. So poems are bodily in themselves. And when we read them to other people, they become part of other people's bodies. Or when we read other people's lives, the way they've constructed a poem, we're breathing them.” 

The idea of poetry garden is to bring together a community of writers to help feed plants with our voices. We inhale what they exhale and what we breathe gives life to our friends and the earth. The words we write can help give life to each other and the plants. It’s a cyclical process of healing ourselves and our environment.

Louisiana is, in many ways, a greenhouse for both plantlife and poets. Inspired by the rich breadth and depth of vegetation in this state, the poetry garden is an homage to home-grown poetry; poetry that speaks to the here and now; poetry that is made in community. The poetry garden workshop will ask participants to join in community; write nature as they see it; and speak life into the air. This one and a half hour workshop includes reading and crafting poems together with the plants, engaging with the beautiful nature that surrounds us. By engaging in the active practice of reading poetry to plants, participants will walk away with a newfound appreciation for the ordinary and extraordinary environment that surrounds them.

Nuha is reading in front of her son.

The Instagram Haiku: Blending Haiku & Social Media to Connect with Nature

Event Type

After many years of mindless scrolling through social media, poet Kenneth Francis Pearson, author of Catching Mist in the Rain, had an awakening after landing on an Instagram Feed post portraying the beauty of nature. Already in the process of writing his current book, he found a new outlet to assist in heightening his senses and connection with nature.

He is now excited to present: The Instagram Haiku: Blending Haiku & Social Media to Connect with Nature. This presentation is an interactive workshop intended for adults ages 16+ with an intermediate writing level. The workshop will focus on developing an awareness of nature through social media and how to engage our senses through experience and imagination. Haiku will be presented in the traditional seventeen syllables format.

After a brief presentation, participants will be prompted to begin writing a haiku based on their exposure to an Instagram Feed post. The Instagram Feed post will be carefully selected by the presenter. Participants will then work to create a haiku using this prompt based on their visual and auditory perceptions and imagining other senses based on their personal experiences.

Participants can expect to consider haiku and how they can be inspired by scrolling through social media.

The Instagram Haiku Promotional Flyer

The South of Wonderland, North of Despair Experience

Event Type

South of Wonderland, North of Despair is more than a journal. Its the author's life journey as told through a collection of short stories and poetry.

A collection of poems read from the book, South of Wonderland, North of Despair will be used to incite thoughtful conversation and creativity. South of Wonderland, North of Despair, what does it mean to you?

South of Wonderland, North of Despair

Mouth Fools: Exercise Identity - A Workshop for Poets and Teachers

Event Type

Early in my first year of teaching high school, I was surprised to learn that many of my students, mostly white 11th graders from affluent families, had never stepped foot on a streetcar even though New Orleans was barely a 20-minute drive from campus. Realizing this was indicative of a vast cultural divide, I decided we would hit the streets. The result was the creation of generative, community-minded writing prompts accessible to anyone at any age, an interactive rotating menu of sorts that I called Mouth Fools. To put the practice into action I contacted a friend who taught at a nearby public school to ask if he would be willing to host my students for a creative community project. Less than 15 miles down the road, the school was a world away for my students. After two hours of interaction, however, in was clear that, through their immersive experience, they had learned a lesson in empathy. They had joined a group that was “other” and saw individuals as clearly as they saw themselves. Soon after, we literally took to the streets by entering New Orleans neighborhoods with which my students were unfamiliar and invited passersby to participate in the generative exercises Mouth Fools provided. My students were able to consider multiple viewpoints and to reflexively challenge their own beliefs and practices. They not only critiqued normative, hegemonic forces that shaped their daily lives, but created products that spoke back to those forces. Since its inception, I have reshaped Mouth Fools to meet the needs of my respective students and their representative communities. I would like to bring its current iteration to the 2023 New Orleans Poetry Festival to help poets learn simple, generative practices and to help teachers introduce similar approaches in their classrooms.


Starting Date/Time

Feeling Your Trauma with Curiosity: Writing Poems from a Traumatic Event with Care and Charisma

Event Type

Post-pandemic, post-Roe, post-Trump writing holds a different weight than writing in “the before times.” Writing trauma presents serious challenges. This facilitated discussion hopes to offer connection and community for poets and other creative writers who are working on pieces that center trauma and/or disability. All are welcome to join the discussion: disabled writers, writers who are caretakers, writers who are experiencing or have experienced trauma, and writers who want to offer support. Katherine and Ashley will open the discussion with a reading and brief introductions of guidelines and concepts, and will invite participants to respond to a series of prompts either verbally or in writing. Those who wish to share will be invited to do so, and the discussion will be allowed to flow naturally, with gentle guidance. At the end of the discussion, writers will be invited to connect outside of the discussion via email. 


A note: the voices of queer people, people of the global majority, and disabled people will take center stage in this workshop.


iPoetry — Amplification Through Technology

Event Type

iPoetry — Amplification Through Technology (1.5-hour workshop)

  1. 30-minute Overview (with natural discussion and question time built in)
    1. Technology use in poetry benefits include:
      1. Exposure
        1. Especially with recent generations, social media is a must in order to reach untapped audiences (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, countless others)
      2. Accessibility
        1. Inclusion is at the forefront of many movements these days, including art - we now realize that some folks lack resources to access print materials; some cannot read in a typical fashion and benefit from recordings, performance, movement, and other modalities of art; art must *always* be inclusive
      3. Breathing new life into stale work
        1. Examples include “dead” or abandoned poems; poems that can take on new meaning when given other vehicles to tell their story(ies) - i.e., themes of spiraling into madness via video recordings of spinning objects; overwhelming sensations using musical instruments and other sounds; etc.
      4. Examples to show the audience with explanation of concept:
  2. 30-minute exercise:
    1. There can be a lot of pressure to produce something during a workshop like this, so the idea is not to have a finished product. However, I’d like folks to get started on something. In the interest of the time, the idea is that folks, if interested, would come to the workshop with a poem prepared that they’re ready to workshop. It should ideally be printed or written down on a sheet of paper. We’d then use our phones or laptops to record videos “in nature” (i.e., around the facility) over the next half-hour, and use our phones/laptops to record the poem over the video to create a visual/video poem, or something similar. I’d be there to help with folks and can even use my phone and laptop if folks don’t have one/don’t feel comfortable using. Again, not everyone needs to participate - people can just observe the entire workshop and that’s fine. The main idea is that folks can see what the process looks like and go through the steps so that they’re equipped to do this on their own in their own time.
  3. Share-out (30-minutes):
    1. We’d spend the last half-hour sharing at least one or two pieces that participants have created. If no one has anything or wants to share, we’d open the workshop for discussion about what the process was like and leave room for questions.
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