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Meet the Teaching Artist: Poems for the Rest of Us with Joan Kwon Glass

by Writing Workshops Staff

10 months ago


Meet the Teaching Artist: Poems for the Rest of Us with Joan Kwon Glass

by Writing Workshops Staff

10 months ago


We're thrilled to introduce you to Joan Kwon Glass, a Korean American author, poet, and mentor, whose passion for the written word shines through her innovative and transformative poetry workshops.

Joan's upcoming 4-week workshop, Poems for the Rest of Us: Writing New Praise Poems, Anthems & Odes, offers a refreshing take on traditional praise poems, challenging societal norms and celebrating the unexpected, the undefined, and even the discarded.

As the poet laureate for Milford, CT, and the Editor in Chief for Harbor Review, Joan brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her teaching. In this four-week course, students will be inspired by revolutionary poets and their works, such as Franny Choi, Danez Smith, Ada Limon, Mary Rueffle, Lucille Clifton, Jared Harel, Li-Young Lee, among others.

Through generative writing prompts and constructive discussions, participants will explore their unique voices and develop specific techniques for crafting praise poems that alchemize, inspire, and challenge. Joan's patient and encouraging guidance has earned her high praise from her students, as she creates a nurturing environment for growth and exploration.

With a focus on luminescence over conformity, Joan Kwon Glass promises an enlightening and enriching experience for writers seeking to expand their poetic horizons.

Hi, Joan. Please introduce yourself to our audience.

Hi everyone! I am a poet who has been writing and reading voraciously for as long as I can remember. I have published two chapbooks, one micro-chapbook and one full-length poetry collection, and just completed my 20th year as a public school educator. I grew up in Michigan and South Korea and now live in coastal Connecticut with my family and my very anxious dachshund.

What made you want to teach this specific class? Is it something you are focusing on in your own writing practice? Have you noticed a need to focus on this element of craft?

In 2017 I experienced two back-to-back, devastating losses and wrote about them in my book NIGHT SWIM which won the Diode Editions Book Prize and was published in 2022. Since then, I have been thinking and reading as much as I can about moving toward light; this has included writing unexpected hymns and poems of praise. I created this class in order to provide a forum for others who are interested in exploring praise poems in ways that will help us reconsider the "mutilated world."

Give us a breakdown of how the course is going to go. What can the students expect? What is your favorite part about this class you've dreamed up?

This will be my second time teaching this class for Writing Workshops, and it has been one of my favorite classes to teach! A typical session includes generative writing time based on original writing prompts, model/anchor poems and other resources (I like to pull from science articles, digital art galleries and the news for unexpected sources of inspiration). Following our writing time, there is the option to verbally share work. And I always try to have at least one of the poets whose work we study on as a guest speaker! Students may expect to be inspired, nurtured and challenged and to experience the gamut of emotions in this class as we push ourselves to identify and explore the sacred.

What was your first literary crush?

What a fabulous question! I could go in so many directions with this one, but I would say probably Mary Wollstonecraft, whose Vindication of the Rights of Woman inspired me to major in Women's History in college.

What are you currently reading?

I just returned from vacation and read three novels in five days: "Fleishman is in Trouble" by Taffy Brodessar-Akner, "My Brilliant Friend" by Elena Ferrante and "The Rabbit Hutch" by Tess Gunty. I am about halfway through the memoir "Sinkhole" by Juliet Patterson and am starting the poetry collection "Alive at the End of the World" by Saeed Jones.

How do you choose what you're working on? When do you know it is the next thing you want to write all the way to THE END?

I think like many writers, I have a dozen projects in my mind. I am generally thinking about the next manuscript, but if I am between manuscripts (as I am now), I just write whatever poems come to me. If a poem demands to be completed, there are usually connections that I'm making creatively and personally to the work--and my way of resolving them or further interrogating those connections is by finishing the poem.

Where do you find inspiration?

Mostly in unexpected places--news articles, a stranger on a train, the newest scientific or archaeological discovery, something my mother says as we are driving to the bank. I store these moments in my mind until another moment or image feels connected to it. And a poem begins to form.

What is the best piece of writing wisdom you've received that you can pass along to our readers? How did it impact your work? Why has this advice stuck with you?

Write for yourself. When I am concerned with audience or what my family might think of me for writing something, the most essential part of writing often gets lost--what do I need to say? What does the poem most need me to do for it? I wrote all of my books this way, not concerning myself too much with whether they would ever be published. You may always consider audience in the revision stages if you choose.

What is your favorite book to recommend on the craft of writing? Why this book?

Gathering Voices: Creating a Community-Based Poetry Workshop curated by Marty McConnell (YesYes Books, 2018)

Bonus question: What’s your teaching vibe?

Cher in Moonstruck. Or Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook. Depends on the day. On a serious note--I try to provide a comfortable, supportive environment in which writers are both nurtured and challenged. All are welcome and all are valued.

Learn More About Working with Joan:

You can learn more about Joan's upcoming class, Poems for the Rest of Us: Writing New Praise Poems, Anthems & Odes 4-Week Zoom Workshop, and sign up now!

Instructor Joan Kwon Glass is the Korean American author of NIGHT SWIM (Diode Editions, 2022) & three chapbooks including IF RUST CAN GROW ON THE MOON (Milk & Cake Press, 2022). She serves as poet laureate for Milford, CT, as Editor in Chief for Harbor Review & as a Brooklyn Poets mentor. Joan teaches on the faculty of Hudson Valley Writers Center, Brooklyn Poets & the International Women’s Writing Guild. Her work has won or been nominated for prizes such as the Pushcart Prize, Sundress Best of the Net, the Washburn Prize, Subnivean Award & Lumiere Review Award. Joan’s poems have been published in or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Asian American Writer’s Workshop (The Margins), Rattle, RHINO, Dialogist & elsewhere. 

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