Liberation of the Mind

Photo by: Heaven Lubocki

Amy Catanzano and Will Alexander, two very well-respected poets, came to Brock University to give a masterclass poetry workshop on Sept 16, 2022. In this masterclass, Catanzano explained her work and how she collaborates with astrophysicists to combine science and art. Meanwhile, Alexander gave an inspiring lecture about the liberty of self thought and how our society and culture influence our thinking. 

Catanzano is known for working alongside astrophysicists to create poems about space and galaxies. She has visited and collaborated with scientists from the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland. She spoke of some of her life-changing experiences as she viewed multiple galaxies from a telescope being operated in the same space as her. The way Catanzano spoke of her experiences inspires curiosity about the collaboration opportunities between art and science. 

Catanzano took the class through a miniature workshop where she put up photos that were stunning in a way that made one question the endless possibilities of the universe. She then told the class to write down words that came to mind when seeing these photos. No sentences or phrases but single words. The class then went over our words and circled the ones that stood out the most. The class was then given the recommendation to create a poem using the chosen words. This was a great writing exercise and almost guarantees a poem that to its core was created subconsciously.

Alexander did a reading of one of his books, which was a great opportunity for all students, especially the students in the poetry workshop there to listen to a unique and different style of poetry. Alexander wrote a poetry book called Refractive Africa. This poetry book was nominated and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. It won the California Book Award and received high praise from well-known publications,, “Since the 1980s, the Los Angeles-based Alexander has mixed politics with mesmeric, oracular lines. Here, three long poems evoke colonial Africa,” wrote Greg Cowlesof the New York Times. 

Alexander spoke about Indigenous thought and how western culture influences and shapes ideas and thoughts on the world. He was very inspiring as he mentioned how just because your mind doesn’t excel at a subject (specifical psychology for his example) based on an educational grading system, doesn’t mean you cannot achieve greatness at it. 

Some interesting facts about both poets are that Catanzano had a mathematician figure out how many versions of her poem, “World Lines,” could exist and the result the mathematician got was 98. Alexander wrote a poetry book called, The Sir Lankan Loxodrome, this book follows a Sri Lankan sailor who fights sea snakes and visits many communities during his travels. 

Both of these poets have displayed theirunique and original works, especially in the field of poetry. Through this masterclass, they inspire students to liberate their minds and chase their dreams. 

If you would like to learn more about Will Alexander click here.

If you would like to learn more about Amy Catanzano click here.

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