Call of the Weird: Poetry and Nature

with Caitlin Scarano

call of the weird writing course

December 6, 2023 | 6 Weeks |

$395.00

Text and Live Video

$395.00Enroll Now

“May you study the pink of yourself. Know yourself riverine and coast. May you taste the fresh and the saltwater of yourself and know what only you can know. May you live in the mouth of the river, meeting place of the tides, may all blessings flow through you.”
-Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals

This six-week poetry workshop is for poets of any stage and background who want to explore the complexity, queerness, and surreality of nature and ecology through poetry. Even if you’re new to nature writing or poetry, this course welcomes you!

Though we’ll meet weekly on Zoom, writers will be given prompts that invite them to observe and engage with nature—whether it is a rural, mountainous landscape, your local city park, or whatever amazing thing is happening in your backyard planter box.

In this course, we will:

  • Consider the question of what nature poetry is (and can be) by reading contemporary writers of a variety of backgrounds and styles.
  • Look at the ways they use specific techniques of poetry and lyricality to engage with the natural world, ecology, and place.
  • Talk about how to represent the strange wildness inherent in nature and how it can help us connect with the wildness inherent in ourselves.

Each week students will generate new (ecologically engaged) work through prompts (up to six new poems) and take turns sharing and discussing each other’s poems in a supportive, experimental environment. Let’s get weird!

Possible poets whose work we’ll read include Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Camille Dungy, Craig Santos Perez, Maya C. Popa, Joan Naviyuk Kane, and others.

Please note, this course will run for 6 weeks but we will not meet the week of the Christmas holiday. We will meet each Thursday from 3:00-4:00 PM PDT on Zoom.

Learning and Writing Goals

Learning Goals

Students will:

  • Develop a shared, adaptive definition of ecopoetry and what it can do in the age of climate change.
  • Get a sense of the landscape of contemporary ecopoetry, including current poets, trends, and themes.
  • Generate and consider a list of questions around the goals and responsibilities of ecopoetry, including their own.
  • Learn to new ways to imagine and interact with the nature world and ecosystems they’re a part of.

Writing Goals

Students will:

  • Build a toolkit of poetic techniques to draw on when writing ecopoetry.
  • Through weekly, interactive writing prompts, generate at least six ecologically engaged poems.
  • Begin to develop a vision for their own ecopoetics and the relationship between themselves, their art, and the natural world.

Zoom Schedule

This course will meet every Thursday, from 3-4 P.M. U.S. Pacific Time. We will not meet the week of Christmas. The meeting dates are as follows: 

Dec. 7
Dec. 14
NO MEETING WEEK OF CHRISTMAS
Dec. 28
Jan. 4
Jan. 11
Jan. 18

Course Outline

Week 1: Laying the Foundation: What is Ecopoetry?

  • This week, we’ll get to know each other and go over what to expect in the course. We’ll discuss various definitions of ecopoetry and read some contemporary ecopoetry to come up with our own working definition for the context of the course.
  • We’ll explore the questions: what is ecopoetry? What can it do? How is it distinct from nature writing? Why do we (the students in this course) want to write ecopoetry?
  • Students will be given a writing prompt for the next session.

Week 2: Make it Weird: Ecopoetry, Lyricality, and the Surreal

  • This week, we’ll delve deeper into the strange and surreal aspects of ecology and how we can engage with and reflect that complexity in our ecopoetry.
  • We will also workshop one poem from a round of students in the course.

Week 3: Getting Outside: Place and Landscape

  • This week, we’ll discuss setting, landscape, and how to write about place in our ecopoetry.
  • We will also workshop one poem from a round of students in the course.
  • Students will be given a writing prompt for the next session.

Week 4: The Agency of Nonhuman Beings

  • This week, we’ll discuss how and why we represent nonhuman beings in ecopoetry, paying particular attention to the agency and complexity of those beings.
  • We will also workshop one poem from a round of students in the course.
  • Students will be given a writing prompt for the next session.

Week 5: Ecopoetry, Intersectionality, and Us

  • This week, we’ll get more into how ecopoetry intersects with other issues of identity and social and political themes. We’ll also discuss the ethics of ecopoetry, especially in the age of climate change and how to handle ecological grief.
  • We will also workshop one poem from a round of students in the course.
  • Students will be given a writing prompt for the next session.

Week 6: Looking Forward: The Future of Ecopoetry

  • This week, we’ll look forward – what is next for ecopoetry? What is next for us as ecopoets? We’ll also do a reflection exercise.
  • We will also workshop one poem from a round of students in the course.

$395.00Enroll Now

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Student Feedback for Caitlin Scarano:

My writing took a huge leap in strength and clarity as a direct result of Caitlin’s coaching. Her detailed attention and questions challenged me think more deeply and write better. Working with Caitlin is both fun and rewarding. Richard W.

Caitlin is one of the finest teachers I have ever had. She is very approachable and kind. I enjoyed every week that we met online and always had a clear direction as to what to work on that following week. I highly recommend any class Caitlin is teaching. Barb Santucci

If you are thinking of putting a manuscript of poems together, you don’t want to miss taking one of Caitlin Scarano’s courses. It was invaluable to me in terms of learning to identify themes for a group of poems, thinking about a book title, ordering poems in a manuscript, evaluating the best way to publish my book, and so much more. By the end of the course I had the bones of a book together. Plus, it’s hard for me to believe there is a better poetry coach out there. Lynne Schilling

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About Caitlin Scarano

Originally from Southside Virginia, Caitlin Scarano (she/they) is a writer based in Bellingham, Washington. They hold a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her second full length collection of poems, The Necessity of Wildfire, was selected by Ada Limón as the winner of the Wren Poetry Prize. Caitlin is a member of the Washington Wolf Advisory Group. Find them at caitlinscarano.com

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