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_____reading + writing rocks,_____
__geo-glyphs, tectonic gestures__
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Facilitator: kathy wu

The first geolinguist, who, ignoring the delicate, transient lyrics of the lichen, will read beneath it the still less communicative, still more passive, wholly atemporal, cold, volcanic poetry of the rocks: each one a word spoken, how long ago, by the earth itself, in the immense solitude, the immenser community, of space.

–Ursula K. LeGuin


This workshop engages in cross-disciplinary language arts via geologic matter. How might reading, writing, and making with stone extend what Ursula K. LeGuin calls, “the meter of eternity”? How might fossil, tectonic plate, and planet show us new spatial and temporal scales of inscription, elegy, and literary possibility beyond the Anthropocene?

In this course, we will create language art projects both on and off the page, with the options to work with digital media, artist books, and multi-sensory art works. Through reading, journaling, and projects, we will engage geologic and geopolitical themes, beginning with ecopoetics, moving through extractivism, and extending into the politics of territory markers and lines. Students with all amounts of writerly and artistic experience are welcome. 


I’m a multi-disciplinary artist and poet, currently a Literary Arts MFA candidate at Brown University, where I’ve been making textiles, websites, and artist books about cyanometers, semiconductors, copper… Before that, I was working sporadically as an educator, tech worker, and community volunteer. Right now, I wonder at how scientific language grasps at knowledge; precisions it; pins it as a colonial found. Perhaps poetic gestures of annotation and collage introduce fog instead, and trouble the body of water which represents “scientific” epistemology? My teaching and learning ethos is inspired by the following people, groups, movements: Paulo Freire, bell hooks, Making & Being (Caroline Woolard + Susan Jahoda), Kameelah Janan Raasheed, adrienne maree brown, popular education, transformative justice, and more.

A woman draws a paintbrush over a large boulder.
Beverly Buchanan


  • Russo and Reed, Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene ($29)
  • Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen ($24)
  • Max Frisch, Man in the Holocene ($13)
  • Layli Long Soldier, Whereas ($13)
  • Amelia Groom, Beverly Buchanan: Marsh Ruins ($16)
Seen from above, the words "ni pena ni miedo" are etched into a landscape.
Raúl Zurita


Each of us will keep a sketchbook throughout the course of our time together, of whatever size and format you like (I prefer non-ruled notebooks myself, but it is up to you!). These sketchbooks are intended to be private and for you primarily, although there will be one week where you will be asked to share 1 spread (2 pages). We will play with a few visual art practices in this course, including:

  • Making a basic experimental website / digital media project
  • Creating a simple artist book

Also, before our first class, please find a geological object—could be a rock, pebble, small jar of sand, fossil—that you will want to keep with you throughout the semester.

A rectangular, light-colored stone with corn carved into the top, and the word "spirit" etched into the side.
Alan Michelson


Week 1 TIME

Look at:

Week 2 SCALE
Read: Max Frisch, Man in the Holocene
In class:

  • Pauline Oliveros, Deep Listening
  • Édouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation (excerpts)

Look at:

* Do one of the deep listening activities by yourself in the presence of stone. Document the experience through a poem or an image. *


  • Russo and Reed, Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene
  • Lorine Niedecker, Lake Superior + sketches
  • Susan Howe, Pangaea Poem


* Do some research on a particular rock or mineral that you have, either found locally or one you already have from somewhere else in the world. Write a 1-page poem about this stone—what came before and what may come after it. *


  • Russo and Reed, Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene
  • Jussi Parikka, A Geology of Media (excerpts)
  • Kate Crawford, Atlas of AI (excerpts on lithium)
  • (Optional) Crystallography, Christian Bök


* Based on our workshop together, make revisions to your rock poem. Consider adding another sensory component: a drawing or a rubbing of stone, a recording of stone… *


  • Russo and Reed, Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene
  • OAK FLAT, Lauren Redniss (excerpts)
  • (Optional) Allison Bigelow, Mining Language (excerpts)


* Research project on a particular mined stone or mineral, to share with the class. What are the geo-forces creating this mineral? Where is it found on the planet? Who mines it, who refines it, who sells it? If you can, bring in a product which uses this mineral, e.g. your smartphone, a food container… *


  • Eleni Sikelianos, Your Kingdom; Poem: Volcanoes (National Park)
  • Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red (excerpts)

* Turn in a 2-page plan with 5+ references and 2+ reading quotes for your final project! You will work on this alongside each week’s prompts, some of which we will work on in class to balance our workload together. *

Read: Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen, p1–74
Look at:

* If it’s possible: visit a body of water near you; a river or coastline within walking distance, perhaps. *
* Write a 1-page poem on the theme of either eruption or erosion. *


Look at:

* Modify something small in your landscape and document it. *
* Find a map and use it as a starting point for a poem or art object. Write 1-3 pages worth of language art on the land and its representation. *
* Work on final projects *

Read: Layli Long Soldier, Whereas
Look at:


* Sketchbook sharing *
* Document a walk you take, and its parameters: e.g. distance, time. Perhaps inspired by land artists from this week, or language artists such as Renee Gladman: create a series of drawings/writings/drawingwritings which engage “the line” in space. *
* Work on final projects *

Week 11 ■ ELEGY + RUINS
Read: Amelia Groom, Beverly Buchanan: Marsh Ruins
Look at:

Do, possibly:

* Visit a memorial or elegiac site of your choice, either virtually or in person, e.g. a burial ground, as grounds for this week’s language art. *
* Also: submit 1 poem for class chapbook, to be made together in our last class! *
* Work on final projects *

Look at:

* What is the intersection of fossil poetics and documentary poetics? Are all fossils engaged in elegy or not necessarily? In the broadest interpretation of fossil: Find a fossil or make one. *
* Finish final projects! *

Week 13 Final Class + Celebration * Final projects due *

A gallery with three photos hanging on the wall, and two mounds of rocks on the ground.
Jesse Vogler, Jennifer Colten


  • Together, we’ll create about 5 or so smaller works, and complete the course with a larger work. We will practice writing from environment and material.
  • We’ll also have the chance to hone skills (and hopefully share them amongst each other, up to you all) across different mediums.
  • Through reading, journaling, discussion, and projects, together we’ll engage with ecopoetics, geopoetics, land art, extractivism. We’ll consider what is inspiring, interesting, and useful within “land art,” and push back on that too. We’ll meditate on geological matter together, and develop a relationship with a piece of the Earth.
  • We’ll integrate these concepts into concrete formal projects, and develop our own informed vocabulary for discussing these issues alongside making and writing.
A machine with six gears lies on a plinth.
Arthur Ganson
A rock encrusted laptop.
Blair Simmons


I hope to create space for a multitude of thoughts, perspectives, and experiences, and to honor your identities, and to know that folks are also more than their identities. To hold all that with care; encourage sharing; to take appropriate action towards any harm that may occur within this learning space.


I don’t have a statement on plagiarism; I do want us to think about our own ethics of re-use and of materials and power. Within this art and writing course, we may engage in found text, paraphrasing, and using and reusing materials in our environment. We might think critically about “found material” and I think it’s useful to. As long as there is no dishonest intent—passing someone else’s work off as your own—I think we as a class can identify these moments through our built trust with each other. I hope to offer a generous space which, above all, critically considers power relations alongside creative acts of appropriation.


I’m writing this syllabus from the lands of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, whose ancestors stewarded these lands with great care, and which continues as a sovereign nation today.

Tall grass against a blue sky.
From the coast, off Barrington, RI


  • Be sensitive to what classmates may find upsetting or triggering.
  • Work here is towards learning, not towards the sake of work. 
  • Learning made visible can be a generous and brave practice—for example, changing your mind out loud, or rewriting old writing. Take knowledge as a verb and a progression. 
  • Collaborations within and outside this class are welcome.
  • (Participants to add their own!)