November 12, 2017 – Gwendolyn Brooks – Sonia Sanchez – Music

The class was magical. We started the class with a moment of silence to help us enter the right frame of mind, and then the leader began to sing (yes!) a medley of blues and poetry. It was spell-binding. We read some Gwendolyn Brooks and Sonia Sanchez, and then wrote our own poems. We paid attention to our senses and to the specific colors, sights, sounds, names, places, and so forth in our work. It was beautiful and entrancing, and filled us all with joy.
Prompts for further writing:
  1. Write a sensual poem that involves all of your five senses and is grounded in details: taste, touch, places, song lyrics, foods, colors, sounds.
  2. Write about your first kiss.

October 15, 2017 – Artwork – Fort Red Border – Kiko Petrosino

We brought some of the artwork of Peter Bruun to share, and participants wrote pieces that will then be turned into corresponding art pieces.

We incorporated Peter’s drawings into the session — giving each participant one of his drawings/letters and reading them aloud. It was amazing to see everyone respond to each others’ letters and find inspiration for their own. The prompt was to write about “love”.

We read portions of Kiki Petrosino’s Fort Red Border, a book of poems about an imagined affair with Robert Redford as well as a selection from Christopher Marlowe.

Prompt for further writing:

  • Write a love letter to someone. They can be alive or dead, imaginary or real, or even to yourself!


Selected pages from Fort Red Border by Kiki Petrosino

Christopher Marlowe



September 24, 2017 – Joe Brainard and George Ella Lyon

This lesson began with a reading of Joe Brainard’s “I Remember.” As we read, we paid special attention to Brainard’s use of sensory details. After reading, we used the phrase “I remember…” to prompt our own writing. What did we remember? What did we want to forget?

Then, we read George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From.” As we read this poem, we noted the details Lyon uses to evoke time and a place. What about these details spoke to us? What details from our own lives could we use in our writing to do the same?

Prompts for further writing:

  1. Take a memory from “I Remember” and follow it to a story from the past.
  2. Write a poem like the poem “Where I’m From” by Lyon.


Selection from Joe Brainard’s “I Remember”

Where I’m From – George Ella Lyon