Zoe Imani Sharpe
Gallery TPW is delighted to present Zoe Imani Sharpe as our Poet-in-Residence for 2023.
What is writing (my, a) life, now? By ‘a life’ I mean a rhythm or moving-character of time and space that leaks, or seeps, into writing.
For some months I’ve been re-reading Akilah Oliver’s The Putterer’s Notebook, a text that (playfully, daringly) questions narrative authority. She called this project an anti-memoir, or “my memory of my body as a life.”
My current poems circle different narrative modes that are necessarily durational and intercepted: cliffhangers, fun-house mirrors, waterclocks, irruptions and augmentations…
It’s with Oliver, among many wonderful poets working today, that I’d like to consider Life as energy that articulates at varying scales, and the poem — as vital.
The Poet-in-Residence is made possible with the generous support of TD Bank Group.
Screenshot of an episode of “This Is Your Life” with guest Muhammed Ali, Thames Television International, 1978. Courtesy of the artist.
BOUT THAT LIFE facilitated by Zoe Imani Sharpe & Fan Wu
Wednesdays evenings, June 7, 14, 21 from 6 - 8pm, and a wrap-up session on Thursday July 6, 6:30 - 8:30pm.
BOUT THAT LIFE is a four-week workshop that explores “life writing” and its entwinement: of the textures of a life lived, the ethics of how a life might ought to be lived, and what the aesthetic supplement of “writing” (broadly construed) casts back upon that life.
Beginning from the immediate circumstance of our experiences, what can we learn from the continuous, the sequential, the totally specific as it meets the depersonalized, the durational, the limited? Between the specific (your life) and general (a life) is a narrowing and widening of aperture. Our goal is to track that movement and its immanent activity, as it swerves between coherence and incoherence.
Some questions we want to explore with you:
Do we dare turn away from that which exhausts our vitality when it promises so much reward under capitalist aegis? What can we learn from following an ethics of life in Daoist terms (particularly in the writings of Zhuangzi), over Western ideals of happiness or knowledge-seeking? What kinds of compositional processes pay complex attention to, in Akilah Oliver’s words, “my memory of my body as a life?”
Each week we will read and discuss a variety of texts, then practice composing ourselves through watching, listening, sensing. To facilitate in-depth and intimate conversation we will be capping the number of participants at 10.
Please fill out this form by May 24th, with a brief note on your interest in life-writing and life-living, and (if you wish) any poems, projects or artworks you’re currently working on that you’d like to expand over the course of the workshop. Though our final group will be small, all those who apply will be sent a packet of readings for self-study. We’re excited to learn from one another in the thick flow of our collective vitality.
Zoe Imani Sharpe is a poet and editor. Her practice blends poetry, essay and collaborative projects. You can find her recent writing in YYZ Artists' Outlet, Writers’ Trust of Canada and Best Canadian Poetry 2021. Her collaborative work includes Poetry/Race/Form (with Fan Wu), WhAt She SaId: Promiscuous References & Disobedient Care (with Cason Sharpe and Yaniya Lee) and Power, Baby! (with Claire Freeman-Fawcett).
Fan Wu (BOUT THAT LIFE facilitator) is a poet and performer who wants to touch the ten thousand things without dependency. His current work pulls a constellation of figures together -- including Zhuangzi, Bataille, Tsai Ming-liang, and Leslie Scalapino -- to forge a poethics of immanence that favours process over productivity, mystical suspension over knowledge attainment, and life as it's lived over empty abstract transcendentals. You can read his work online in MICE Magazine, The Ex-Puritan, Capilano Review, C Magazine, and Pleasure Dome.