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Meet the Teaching Artist: Sourcing Poetic Imagery from the Senses with Joe Milazzo

by Writing Workshops Staff

11 months ago

Meet the Teaching Artist: Sourcing Poetic Imagery from the Senses with Joe Milazzo

by Writing Workshops Staff

11 months ago

Get acquainted with Joe Milazzo, an accomplished author and skilled poet set to lead a 4-Week Zoom class titled Sourcing Poetic Imagery from the Senses. With notable works like Crepuscule W/ Nellie and volumes such as The Habiliments and Of All Places In This Place Of All Places, along with his recent chapbook homeopathy for the singularity, Joe brings a wealth of literary expertise. His upcoming workshop invites writers to explore the realm of poetic imagery by tapping into the senses. Through practical sessions involving collaborative writing exercises, engaging readings, and group workshops, participants will learn to infuse their writing with vivid sensory elements. By the end, you'll have a deeper understanding of how to create poetry that resonates with the human experience on a profound level.

Hi, Joe. Please introduce yourself to our audience.

I live in Dallas, Texas, where I make things. Sometimes, the things I make are made out of words.

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? Or is this just your jam and you love it?

I decided to offer this course to the Writing Workshops community because: 1) I wanted to help writers think more deeply and imaginatively about the embodied experience from which language emerges; 2) I wanted to lay out some "common ground" by inviting writers to pay close, individual attention to an aspect of lived human experience to which we all have a relationship; 3) I wanted to teach a generative workshop that, if all goes well, helps writers take greater pleasure in the act of writing.

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?

Each week will feature opportunities to discuss perception, sensory experience, and the richness and diversity of poetic imagery. Each course meeting will also include time to write, and the generative writing exercises presented will be as interactive as possible.

What was your first literary crush?

The first book I remember lingering for a long time in my imagination is one of two books by Daniel Pinkwater: THE BIG ORANGE SPLOT or FAT MEN FROM SPACE. (At the time, I did not pay attention to the fact that both books were by the same author). But the first literature I really immersed myself in were the Greek myths, largely thanks to THE GOLDEN TREASURY OF MYTHS AND LEGENDS (the incredible illustrations by Alice And Martin Provensen definitely helped).

What are you currently reading?


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 make a lot of notes and tend not to think about those notes becoming a discrete project until they reach some sort of critical mass. As a result, I often end up working on several things at once. The end of a thing also surprises me — sometimes it even ambushes me.

Where do you find inspiration?

I am very much a dumpster-diver. I'm often drawn to the discarded, unwanted, crumpled-up, unloved, abandoned stuff. "Found objects," they often call them in other metiers.

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?

"Don't bow to the tyranny of the anecdote." This advice comes from novelist Joseph McElroy, and I overheard it as much as I received it. (He was speaking to a creative writing class where I was also a guest.) What did he mean? He meant: "Don't be so beholden to how events happened in real life. Feel free to take creative liberties with the things that happen to and around you. Transform them." Fiction writers in particular would be wise to heed this advice, but I find I think of it whenever I'm writing something that's not intended to be autobiographical. This advice has altered my relationship to my own emotions. I don't think I could have written my most recent manuscript without this conception of anecdote.

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

Julio Cortazar's LITERATURE CLASS. It requires you to contemplate what it means to be writer — a being who is always becoming — not just how to be a "better" writer.

Bonus question: What’s your teaching vibe?

Affably antiauthoritarian.

Learn More About Working with Joe:

You can learn more about Joe's upcoming class, Sourcing Poetic Imagery from the Senses 4-Week Zoom Workshop, and sign up now!

Instructor Joe Milazzo is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie, two volumes of poetry — The Habiliments and Of All Places In This Place Of All Places — and several chapbooks (most recently, homeopathy for the singularity). His work has appeared or will soon appear in Black Warrior Review, BOMB, The Dallas Morning News, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Prelude, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. He is also the Founder/Editor-In-Chief of Surveyor Books. Joe lives and works in Dallas, TX.


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