Most folks at Work: workshops

Inspired by the Brooklyn-based workshops led by the poet Jayson P. Smith,  Most Folks At Work began as a recurring writing workshop series based in St. Louis. These workshops responded to an apparent need for community-based workshops that make space for the wealth of St. Louis-area poets and writers who want serious encounters and dialogue for their work, but for whom the structures and environs of university pedagogy may not be convenient or healthy.

Most Folks At Work is intended for adult writers who have [1] previous workshop experience, [2] an active practice of reading / engaging poetry, [3] familiarity with basic terms and craft elements of poetry, and [4] some degree of comfort giving and receiving critical feedback on their art. A workshop intended to introduce these fundamentals may be launched at a later date.

Most Folks at work is currently on hiatus as justin relocates to pittsburgh, but please check back for updates on workshops such as those below.   

most folks draft 2019.jpg

Most Folks Go In:
On Deep-Looking, Stamina, & Humility


Most folks frame:
On form, Function, & subversion

The Theory: What is form? What aint form? What/Whom is a particular form for? This workshop will survey conventional and rogue poetic forms. Participants will discuss the argumentative, emotional, and/or mnemonic function of forms; unpack the sociopolitical or historical gravity of certain forms; and speculate together about why particular poets in particular poems subvert the rules of particular forms. This workshop will especially focus on the partnership of form and content. 

The Practice: Participants will experiment with adhering to the logic of a poetic form, intentionally breaking the rules of that logic, and creating their own replicable forms. Participants will discuss their peers' attempts at this in workshop.


most folks tell tales:
on myth & the politics of retelling

The Theory: This workshop will focus on the obsession with retelling and reimagining—that is, revising—myths and fables across a few poetic traditions. Participants will consider the radical function of revising myths / poems about myths—against exclusion, around autobiography, toward nuance, etc.—entering such conversations as: Lucille Clifton, Carl Phillips, Lyrae Van-Clief Stefanon, and W. B. Yeats on Leda; Marie Howe, Safiya Sinclair, and Danez Smith on Eden; or Rita Dove, Louise Glück, Rickey Laurentiis, and Sylvia Plath on Persephone. 

The Practice: Participants will engage a specific myth or fable and draft a series of poems that not only interrogates how they themselves receive that myth/fable but also reacts in some way to how other poets have previously handled it. Participants will discuss their peers' attempts at this in workshop.


Most Folks remix:
On Sampling, Revision, & Revisitation*

The Theory: This workshop will survey contemporary methods of sampling, or borrowing, in the interlaced arts of poetry and music. Participants will consider the purposes of sampling another's work and representing it in their creations—is it homage? is it critique? is it both?—as well as the implications of doing so. Participants may encounter the works of such artists as 2Pac, Gwendolyn Brooks, Blackstreet, Drake, Vievee Francis, Jacqui Germain, Isaac Hayes, Douglas Kearney, Morgan Parker, and Dionne Warwick. 

The Practice: Participants will practice sampling with intent, in various forms, and with awareness of sampling's multiple functions. Participants will discuss their peers' attempts at this in workshop.

* Adapted from my Cave Canem 2017 workshop, Say My Name / Anyway You Can.