Sing the Body Electric: Poetry of the Body

with Andrea Jurjević

sing the body electric poetry of the body course

March 20, 2024
4 Weeks


In this workshop, we will connect to our bodies as an infinite resource for writing poetry.

By tuning into our own physical experiences, we will expand our writing repertoire and our writing habits. We will look at the curves and shadows of physicality with the eye of an artist, exploring the workings of our minds, our emotions, our sexuality, and the contours of our spiritual selves.

Writing about the physical body, whether to celebrate the body of a beloved, or to address our own body image, is also an opportunity to develop our ability to see the human body from a new perspective, the way each filmmaker might capture an actor differently or a painter might depict a scene or an object in a way that we have not thought of before.

As we awaken a more embodied writing practice together, we will find the artistic threads our own embodiment holds. What stories are our faces and skin filled with? Are they songs of harmony, dissonance, or chaos? Chronicles of comfort? Fragmented essays on alienation? Elegies of forgotten landscapes?

This is a generative workshop for poets and prose poets. Writers of all levels are very welcome.

Learning and Writing Goals

Learning Goals

In this course, students will learn to:

  • Employ sensory experiences as an aesthetic pursuit.
  • Awaken a more embodied writing practice.
  • Tap into new sources of inspiration and generate vivid writing.
  • Build personal vocabulary that enriches one’s work.
  • Invest in one’s personal mythology.

Writing Goals

In this course, students will write and workshop four new pieces.

Zoom and Course Schedule

Beginning Wednesday, March 20th, we will meet weekly on Zoom from 7-8:30 pm Eastern to discuss readings, write, share our work, and receive verbal feedback. 

Each week will start online, on Wet.Ink, with a reading package along with two prompts: one that asks students to reflect on the reading, and a poetry writing prompt.

Students will have an opportunity to revise their work and submit the revision by the end of the week to the online platform for detailed feedback.

Weekly Syllabus

Week 1. Body & Image

Writing about the physical body is also an opportunity to employ concrete, crisp, memorable details, or to render physicality as a configuration of patterns. Vivid imagery is important as it can quickly convey ideas that are difficult to articulate otherwise, and it can also facilitate an exploration of artistic freedom and experiment. What happens when we try something new in a poem, crank our imagery up all the way and perhaps risk making something new?

Week 2. Body & the Erotic

Many of us enjoy poems and stories where the proverbial heat is turned up; however, we are often discouraged from writing sex. We are told it is hard. We are told it will sound cheesy and cliché. We are made to believe that writing sex is a trivial pursuit and that it does not constitute serious writing. However, writing sex is liberating and can significantly expand our writing skills.

When we write about pleasure, the sensory experience can easily become a metaphor for something bigger. Why? Because the sensual or erotic depiction, when done well, requires well-developed characters, careful pacing and movement, as well as evocative sensory detail.

This week we will explore the principles of erotic expression and expand our understanding of it. Does a text need to be about intimacy to be sexually charged? Does a good sex scene need to be necessarily beautiful? Can a nature poem be sexy? What about a short story about a sad New Year’s celebration? What makes something sexy, after all?

Week 3. Body & the Collective

While each one of us navigates our private individual experiences, we are also part of the collective. Writing about the body can also be writing about its context—the bigger picture—our lineage (familial, artistic or spiritual), the places we live in, and those who surround us. Writing about the body can also be about our interpersonal relationships and the dynamics we have with the societal structures that affect us. When we look at this bigger picture, we not only notice the relationship between ourselves and the world we live in but also between author and authority.

For this week, we will set out in search of moments of truth by writing about the body in a bigger context and by pulling all the personal languages we carry within us—from our hometowns and regions to our family expressions and the communities we’ve been a part of, etc.

Week 4. Body & Art

Writing in response to a pre-existing piece of art allows us to use our sight in an aesthetic pursuit. Writing ekphrasis not only keeps the writer’s block at bay—there is so much art to write about—but it also allows us to dive much more deeply into our interests, to variegate them and flash them out. Writing in response to art also naturally lends itself to making associative leaps, liberating ourselves from our writing habits, and discovering where association might take us.

This week will allow us to practice finding beauty and artistic value in things that might not be conventionally beautiful—so that we can learn to tune into the world and train our sensibilities to see and appreciate what beauty and emotional power they possess.

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Student Feedback for Andrea Jurjević:

Learning underneath Andrea drastically affected how I write and interact with poetry. Coming into her course with a surface-level appreciation for poetry, Andrea’s passion for reading and writing emanated in every lesson she gave, being so contagious as to deepen my love for the craft exponentially. If you have the chance to develop your writing alongside Andrea, consider yourself lucky and seize the opportunity. Harrison Wayne

Andrea’s biggest strength as an instructor is her ability to inspire confidence in every student on every level. She is a master at fostering community in the classroom and at selecting works that are current, diverse, and rich in both technical achievements and emotions. Stephanie Brooks

March 20, 2024
4 Weeks


andrea jurjevic headshot


Andrea Jurjević is the author of two poetry collections: In Another Country, selected by Roberto Tejada for the 2022 Saturnalia Books Prize, as well as Small Crimes (Anhinga Press, 2017), selected by C. G. Hanzlicek for the 2015 Philip Levine Prize and by Elizabeth Hughey for the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year award. Her chapbook Nightcall (Willow Springs Editions, 2021) was selected for the ACME Poem Company Surrealist Poetry Series. Her book-length translations from Croatian include Mamasafari (Diálogos Press, 2018) and Dead Letter Office (The Word Works, 2020), which was shortlisted for the 2021 National Translation Award in Poetry.

Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Believer, TriQuarterly, The Missouri Review, Crazyhorse and The New Republic, among many others. She is the recipient of a Robinson Jeffers Tor Prize, a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and Hambidge Fellowship.

Andrea is a native of Rijeka, Croatia. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she teaches in the English department of Georgia State University. Follow Andrea on Twitter and Instagram @andrea_jurjevic