Oral History for Artists and Writers
Workshop led by Svetlana Kitto
Date: Saturday, October 6
Time: 1-4pm (3 hours)
Cost: $45-85 (sliding scale)
Oral history is an interdisciplinary tool that has the power to bring more complexity, multivocality and urgency to work of any genre. For makers interested in documenting unheard voices, undertold stories, or generally enlivening their work with the historical phenomenon of everyday speech, this workshop will introduce oral history interviewing techniques as both a theoretical and practical mode of writing about the world. Students will practice interviewing and writing using oral history methods, as well as engage texts from a variety of periods and perspectives to get them thinking about their own complex points-of-view in this historical moment.
Svetlana Kitto is a writer and oral historian in New York City. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Guernica, The New York Times, VICE, Salon, ART21, and the book Occupy (Verso, 2012) among other publications and anthologies. Currently an interviewer on the Smithsonian Archives of American Art Visual Art and AIDS Epidemic Oral History Project, she has also contributed interviews to projects with the Museum of Arts and Design, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, and the Brooklyn Historical Society, where she developed and taught a writing workshop called “Racial Realities: Writing About Race in the First Person.” Additionally, she has taught or lectured at Columbia University, Pratt Institute, and Rutgers University - Newark. She co-curates the reading and performance series Adult Contemporary, which released its first book of art and literature in the fall. In early 2017, her oral history for the book Ken Tisa: Objects/Time/Offerings, published by Gordon Robichaux and Pre-Echo Press, was called a "genius catalog" by Holland Cotter of the New York Times.
The Heart of the Matter: A Workshop for Writings in Progress
Led by Jackie Clark
Dates: Sundays November 4, 11, 18, and December 2
Capacity: 12 participants
Cost: $100-200 total (sliding scale, $25-50/session)
Part of the challenge that a poet faces is the need to distill their work down to the essence of whatever feeling or experience they are trying to capture/convey—what Graham Greene calls "the heart of the matter,”—while at the same time seeking to gain a fuller understanding of what is going on in their writing that they might not yet be fully aware of. Often, turning to reading that one feels a kinship to and discussing it with others can help generate new entries into one’s own work, bringing its gestures and objectives into clearer focus.
This four-week poetry workshop invites participants to share a specific work-in-progress of no more than 10 pages (chapbook excerpt, long poem, manuscript…), which could benefit from dialogue with others. We will think about how to construct this dialogue in studying writing we feel our own works have particularly affinity to, and developing vocabularies to discuss these kindred approaches and aesthetics together.
During our first meeting, participants will bring and share a piece of writing (of no more than 2 pages) by a writer other than themselves, whose work seems to exhibit the "heart" or aesthetics of what they are looking to achieve in their own writing. Together we will determine a vocabulary for what we value in that writing and discuss how we try to exhibit those values and make use of those strategies in our own work. We will then use this collaboratively generated vocabulary as a resource for understanding and talking about each other’s' writing. The second and third sessions will be dedicated to workshopping each participants’ work, while the fourth will serve as a platform to share our newly edited drafts together during a group reading.
"If one knew, he wondered, the facts, would one have to feel pity even for the planets? If one reached what they called the heart of the matter?"
Jackie Clark is the author of Aphoria (Brooklyn Arts Press) and the chapbooks Office Work (Greying Ghost), I Live Here Now (Lame House Press), and Sympathetic Nervous System (Bloof Books). Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Brooklyn Rail, The Tiny, and the anthology Ritual and Capital co-published by Wendy’s Subway and Bard Graduate Center. A new chapbook, Depression Parts, is forthcoming from dancing girl press. She works at Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts at The New School and teaches writing in New Jersey. She can be found online at nohelpforthat.com
Image: Ellie Ga, Remainder, 2010. Courtesy the artist and Bureau, New York.