Tentacular Thinking and Writing challenges the “traditional” form of the poetry workshop and encourages participants to explore new ways of approaching and generating work.

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Time: eight Thursdays, 18:00 to 20:00

Duration: 12 March - 30 April, 2020

Location: Atwater Library and Computer Centre—1200 Atwater Avenue, Westmount, Quebec View map


“Because I have always had many certain problems with form, I consider myself a poet. […]

“There is no stability of form; all science extols that. Body is an interruption in another interruptive continuum, and vice versa. The reason to create form might be as a way of charting its fleet malleability. Or perhaps form means morph. I wish.”

—Stacy Doris, “I Have to Check My Email,” (2007)

All poets/makers welcome. Limited to 12 participants.

Can we think of form as something other than constraint? What if one’s entire life experience were the constraint, as it is for the Afro-Cuban poet Kamau Brathwaite? And where is the body in this? This workshop, open to all, entertains a troubled, tentacular curiosity. Here we’ll consider form in relation to time, to response-ability (Haraway), to force, to seeing-skin. How is form energy, as opposed to shape? Together, we’ll attempt to track its formations in our own works, and in the poetics/poetry of several modern and contemporary writers. Long Soldier, Moten, NourbeSe-Philip, Celan, Stacy Doris, Aisha Sasha John and Lisa Robertson, among others, will be our fellow poeologists…  All poets/makers welcome.

The class work is comprised mainly of group critique of writing you bring in, discussion of texts/videos, and of writing exercises designed to improve technique and explore new approaches to creation.

Questions of composition, rhythm, gesture, engagement with broader social and political values, the body, and others will be considered.

Possible Readings
Stacy Doris, “I Have to Check My E-mail”
Kimiko Hahn, “Still Writing the Body
CA Conrad, “The Right to Manifest Manifesto”
Paul Celan, “The Meridian”
Lisa Robertson & Aisha Sasha John: In Conversation“, Book*hug Interview
M. NourbeSe-Philip, “Ignoring Poetry (a work in progress)”
Fred Moten, “An Interview with Fred Moten” Parts I and II, Lit Hub.
Layli Long Soldier, “Poetry as Prayer,” The Creative Independent
Derek Jarman, Blue

Workshop leader

Credit: Blythe Kingcroft
Sarah Burgoyne is an experimental poet. Her first collection, Saint Twin (Mansfield: 2016), was a finalist for the A.M. Klein Prize in Poetry (2016), won a prize from l'Académie de la vie littéraire (2017) and was shortlisted for a Canadian ReLit Award. She is presently working on a manuscript inspired by Camus' murderous beach in L'étranger which takes up the relentless heat of the sun and its potential for transference--in this case, from atmosphere to human interaction. Thelma and Louise appear. The sun sings. There is majestic astroturf. Burgoyne also curates a (small) gallery and hosts a reading/performance series in her apartment called Puny Times Gallery.


Please note that workshop registration is on a “first come, first served” basis.

Payment is required to confirm your place in the workshop. 

Payments are to be made online via credit card or PayPal. Click on the link below to add the workshop to your shopping cart, then proceed to payment. QWF Members must be logged in to receive their discount. If you are not already a QWF member, you will have the option of purchasing a Membership, in which case you will receive the discounted workshop rate.

If you are unable to pay online, you can temporarily reserve a place by registering online. Your payment must be made to the QWF office by cheque or cash within 7 days of registration or it will automatically be cancelled.

If the workshop is full, you will have the option of joining the waiting list. If a space becomes available, all those on the waiting list will be notified at once by email. The available spot will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

Please familiarize yourself with the rest of the Workshop Policies in the shaded box.


General $170 + $4.16 Fee
Student $98 + $2.52 Fee
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