Assistant Professor of Poetry
She is the author/illustrator of the collage-based picture book changing, changing, which was published by George Braziller in 2005. She has also written two books of poems: Teeth (Curbstone Press, 2007) and Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, 2011). Before joining Hampshire's faculty, Girmay taught community writing workshops with young people for several years, at which time she worked with the ACTION Project, a teen arts and social justice program in the Bronx. She has also taught at Queens College and is currently on the faculty of Drew University's low residency M.F.A. program.
For the past few years, she has been studying texts and other materials that, through form, language(s), diction, and gesture, perform and think about place and loss of place (or displacement), and what this sometimes has to do with the sea.
How does writing the dream alter language and/or how we expect language to behave? Might the dream be a painting or a gift or a found object? How is metaphor a kind of rebellion? And how might these practices be(come) routes to possibility? In this course, we will explore these questions and the ways that dreams, metaphors, and poem-making (in general) can meaningfully challenge and stretch the conventions of our saying and seeing. Students will participate in writing experiments in and out of class, and will also be expected to: keep a dream and writing journal; contribute poems for class workshop; provide critical, thoughtful feedback in response to the work of their peers; study works by artists such as Helene Cixous ("The School of Dreams"), Lucille Clifton, Elizabeth Alexander, Jean Valentine, Alberto Rios, and Fanny Howe. Over the course of the semester, students will generate and revise new work, while developing a portfolio of original poems and presenting a creative statement on their writing routes and/or practices. Eligible students should be committed to deepening their practice as creative (live!) readers, writers, and community members. Prerequisite: Eligible students will have completed one college-level creative writing workshop.
In this course, we will study the ways that writers have shaped, and been shaped by, the practice and discipline of writing in community. We will study the relationship between the writing and the making that happens in other ways (the founding of presses, collectives, community workshops, literacy programs). Among our models will be June Jordan (and her work with Poetry for the People), Haki Madhubuti (the Black Arts Movement and Third World Press among other commitments), and the memorial work of the Casagrande Poets of Chile. Class members will be asked to present models of writers whose work in community they find to be particularly inspiring and/or challenging, and how (or whether) these commitments can be traced to their poetics and/or tendencies in the writing. Students will also be asked to 1) develop and bring in their own original writing that, in some way, is born out of a community commitment or interest, and 2) develop their own blueprints for community projects, articulating what kind of training they would need if they were to realize these projects. Half of our class sessions will be devoted to workshop. Students will receive feedback on projects from at least one writer in the field who has developed her own community project. This course is open to students writing in any genre. Prerequisite: At least one college-level arts course (writing, studio arts, film/video).
In Joseph Harrington's essay "Docupoetry and Archive Desire" he writes: "In 2000, the poet Jena Osman created a lengthy list of 'docupoetry' that included poems such as Allen Ginsberg's "Wichita Vortex Sutra", Adrienne Rich's "An Atlas of the Difficult World", and William Carlos William's "Paterson", as well as many works less familiar to American readers. Nowadays, such a list could be twice as long; we are in the midst of something of a flourishing of documentary literary forms. Usually 'docupoetry' designates poetry that (1) contains quotations from or reproductions of documents or statements not produced by the poet and (2) relates historical narratives, whether macro or micro, human or natural." In this course we will argue the roots of the "documentary poem" by studying poems that utilize documentary techniques and methods. Among our models include works by Muriel Rukeyser, Bhanu Kapil, Kwame Dawes, M. NourbeSe Philip, and C.D. Wright. Informed by these models, each student will develop, research, produce and revise a documentary poem project. Nearly half of our classes will be devoted to workshops. Interested students *must* attend the first class. Instructor Permission required (please attend first class for details regarding Instructor Permission). Prerequisites: at least one college-level workshop in the arts (writing, studio arts, film/video, etc.) and/or one college-level research-based course.