We Make Circles: On Feeling, Tracing, and Writing Non-linear Landscapes

A 3-part series of poetry workshops for BIPOC land stewards. Attendance is required for all three sessions: November 5th, 12th, and 19th.

I’m really excited to be a guest speaker on Nov 12 of this 3-week workshop, led by Jo Stewart.

More details below and at this link.

About this event


In Bayo Akomolafe’s book These Wilds Beyond Our Fences, he retells a Yoruba folk proverb in a letter to his daughter. A translation of the proverb goes like so:

“We make circles round the mahogany bean tree, but it is too much to handle; we make circles around the baobab tree, but it is too much to handle; we make circles around the well, but it is nothing to jump into in anger.”

In this writing workshop, we will attune ourselves to those organic bodies that baffle our attempts to encircle them with language or knowledge—who are “too much to handle.” We will notice (rather than grasp at) what slips away, allowing what thwarts us to relax our fierce grip on accuracy, productivity, and arrival. The ambition of this workshop is to learn how to befriend those who stump us and stop us—not in order to subdue or coax into submission—but so that we might practice holding space for the non-linear and inarticulate in our poetics, our lives.

This course is open to Black, Brown, Indigenous, and people of color who identify as land stewards. Stewardship, in this instance, is broadly defined. We hope that folks with varying degrees of experience pursuing land based ancestral practices, who approach their local environment with curiosity and reverence (in both rural and urban settings) will enroll. An abiding commitment to language, in all its bite and nectar, is also encouraged.

The workshop will be led primarily by poet, performer, and educator Jo Stewart, with drop-in visits by writer, editor, publisher, and shamanic healer, Janice Lee, as well as writer, co-director and farm manager of Soul Fire Farm, Leah Penniman.

One of the most pressing challenges in this course will be to navigate our personal relationships to naming and not-knowing. It is not so much a problem to solve, as a question to carry alongside us as we pursue our individual investigations. It is vitally important that we remain critical of our particular inheritances regarding name-calling, christening, possessing, and fetishizing place while also honing our senses and tuning-in to what lights us up and puts us out about particular spaces.