Wound Dwelling: Writing the Survivor Body(ies)


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What is the physicality of a wound? What types of loss feel nearly impossible to come back from? What kind of life settles into our bones if we don’t take the time to grieve these losses? Can we dive into the wound, the loss: excavate and unearth it? We will focus on surviving and survivorhood; what it looks and feels like to live beyond traumatic experiences. The dominant narratives about the survivor body— oft pathologized as disembodied, disassociated and unwell— will be turned on their heads. We can never actually leave our bodies, as hard as we might try (and as wise as we are in our reasons for trying) and are therefore always already embodied. Too often survivors that are also writers are told to not dwell in the trauma, that writing from personal and traumatic experience isn’t “legitimate” writing. I don’t believe that to be true and am regularly heartened and inspired by the writing people do while diving into the wound(s).

In this 6 week workshop we will engage with work written by a wide range of writers, generate our own body of work through interrogating the roots of trauma and how it manifests in the body and explore body-based writing can help support us as we write into the wound. The trauma doesn't have to just live in our body; it can be moved from living within our skin and be rewritten onto paper (and computer screens).

"How people feel, what they feel, what breaks them, how trauma resonates through their lives . . . that’s a legitimate space in poetry." —Claudia Rankine

"Write backwards from the dissipated, exploded, violent body. Write the blows backwards until you make a real body. This movement of a body through space, how to reduce the pain of this body, the pain of a static, habitual, repeated movement-- impact-- is what I mean by healing. Not resolution, but a rewriting in neuromuscular terms of gesture." — Bhanu Kapil

“What’s fertile in a wound? Why dwell in one? Wounds promise authenticity and profundity, beauty and singularity, desirability. They summon sympathy. They bleed enough light to write by. They yield scars full of stories and slights that become rallying cries. They break upon the fuming fruits of damaged engines and dust these engines with color. And yet—eyond and beneath their fruits—hey still hurt. The boons of a wound never get rid of it; they just bloom from it.”— Leslie Jamison

Note: "Wound Dwelling" is language drawn from Leslie Jamison's work on wounds and pain.

Week by Week

Week 1 // The Survivor Body(ies)

Week 2 // The Survivor Body as a "Failed Body" and Using Failure to Create

Week 3 // Wound Dwelling as a Creative Practice an Embodied & Somatic Practice

Week 4 // Wound Dwelling as an Embodied & Somatic Practice

Week 5 // Wound Dwelling: The Body(ies) in Pleasure and Pain

Week 6 // Wound Dwelling: Moving Beyond Dominant Narratives

General outline for each week:
•    Review guidelines for holding space for each other and writing into traumatic material in order to foster a safe(r) space
•    2-3 readings from other writers drawing from poetry, creative non-fiction, and a little trauma theory
•    Questions to generate discussion
•    Offerings of writing prompts, response, and discussion