February News and Upcoming Events!


Ethel, the zine I co-edit with Sara Lefsyk, has a new website. Check it out!

Upcoming readings:

3/2, 7:30pm: Ethel reading at the Carrack, a gallery in Durham, NC. More information and reader bios can be found here.

4/6: Little Corner Reading Series at Duke. The current season is titled “Excess Women,” and so far it’s been amazing! Stay tuned for more information.

Upcoming online workshops:

Spring 2019: I will be co-teaching a course on women’s literature and ways into creative production. Details will be announced soon!

Summer 2019: I will teach Lyric Essay through Creative Nonfiction during their summer session (July 1-August 4th). Registration details will be available in a couple of months.

You can also sign up for my newsletter at https://tinyletter.com/JoannaPennCooper.

October News! Poem-a-Day/Chapbook from Ethel/Upcoming CNF course

Hello! I’m thrilled to have a poem up in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series. (And many thanks to this month’s guest editor, Ross Gay, for soliciting a poem from me.)

You can see the poem, read a bit of context for it, and listen to audio of it here.

The poem also happens to be the title piece from a forthcoming chapbook from Ethel Zine, which will be out this month. You can order the chapbook here, and it will be shipped within a week or two. More information about the Ethel Zine is available here.

Finally, my proposal for another online course for Creative Nonfiction was just accepted, and the course will begin in January. I will be teaching a course in “Writing the Lyric Essay: When Nonfiction and Poetry Play.” We will read work that exists in the space between essay and poetry, and investigate what poetry can teach us about writing personal essays. The course listing should be up on their website next week.

You can also sign up for my newsletter at https://tinyletter.com/JoannaPennCooper.

Here’s to October!

Mud Woman, collaborative poetry chapbook, forthcoming this fall!

For about a year, I have been exchanging poems with poet, novelist, and ecofeminist farmer-essayist Rebecca Bratten Weiss, a correspondence which led to our forming the George Sandinistas literary collective, together with our friend Jessica Mesman Griffith.  (You can sign up for our George Sandinistas tiny letter emails here, if you want to receive occasional poems by me or RBW.)

Rebecca and I are very pleased that some of the poems from this correspondence will appear in a chapbook from Dancing Girl Press in fall 2018.  The pieces in this chapbook, Mud Woman, circle around shared themes and images, and we're very pleased to publish this conversation in poems.     


Approaching Mystery, an online flash memoir course

February 12, 2018

My next online Approaching Mystery course begins on March 16th, 2018.  

In this online writing workshop, we’ll write short passages of prose that explore the mystery of the everyday. We will work in a mode that we could call flash memoir, vignette, or micro-essay. These short pieces could become the basis for a longer work (essay/memoir), or remain stand alone "flash" pieces. Alternately, you could see them as writing practice, as a way to loosen up and access your creativity. We will also explore the (blurry) lines between prose poem, flash fiction, and micro-essay, reading examples from each of these genres and dipping into them at will. Some of the writers we may read as models include Lydia Davis, Lynda Barry, Paul Auster, Malena Morling, Tomas Transtromer, Jessica Mesman Griffith, Sherman Alexie.

One of the aims of this course will be exploration of the element of the absurd, surreal, or wondrous that exists in our everyday experience. We will spend much of our time in a mode of play and discovery, even when writing on serious subjects. You’ll post some of your responses to writing exercises for the whole group to see. You will receive feedback from me along the way, and at the end of the course, I will read a portfolio of work or an essay based on your vignettes from each student.

To register, go to Eventbrite

Sign up for Writing Spaces: A memoir-writing workshop

February 26, 2017

I'll be teaching a community writing workshop at Nido Durham on Saturday afternoons, March 11th to April 15th.  Enrollment is limited to 8 participants.  Join us if you'd like to jumpstart your writing practice!  Enroll at bit.ly/jpcspaces


In this community writing workshop, we'll do short readings and exercises in class designed to loosen us up, access our creativity and writing voices, and jumpstart a writing practice. Toward the end of the class, each participant will share a short personal essay that has emerged from our in-class exercises. Our theme will be"writing spaces," allowing us to examine the intersections among life stories, memory, the body, and place (home, rooms, towns, spaces dreamed or imagined). We will read excerpts by some of the following writers, and produce our own writing inspired by them: Abigail Thomas, James Agee, Sandra Cisneros, JoAnn Beard, David Sedaris, Jamaica Kincaid, Lynda Barry, Paul Auster, Luci Tapahonso. 

The class will meet on Saturdays March 11-April 15, 3-5pm. Early bird tickets (purchased by March 1st) are $200 + Eventbrite fee. Regular tickets (after March 1st) are $250 + fee. 

Opening Day for NaPoWriMo

April 01, 2016

As I've done for the past several years, I'm participating in NaPoWriMo in April.  Thirty poems (or drafts of poems) in thirty days!  I find it helps get me writing and that I get at least some good drafts out of it.  It's scary and fun and a challenge. 

Over at the NaPoWriMo site, Maureen Thorson posts optional prompts and featured participants.  If you'd like to play along, you can still register your blog on her website (or just write!).  Either way, you're welcome to follow her prompts or not.  I'll take my drafts down at the end of the month and choose some to revise.  (Also, my definition of "poem" will be loose.  Some will have lines.  Some will be prose poems.  I also tend to do some very short poems, some found poems, some prose "dispatches" from daily life.)

Here's a prose poem I still like that wrote for NaPoWriMo 2012:

Opening Day

OK.  First of all, it's warmer out than I thought, and so I'm overdressed.  Second of all, even with sunglasses on, I'm squinting.  Thirdly, when a bird goes, poo-tee-weet, I direct my next thought toward it, thusly:  "Petulance.  We like the sound of the word petulance, don't we, birdie?"  Then I pass three separate teenagers, still young, still forming, looking elastic in spirit like fourteen year-olds mostly do.  I wish them the best.  I  begin to worry.  They look so full of potential.  As the third one passes, I sigh loudly in his direction, and he politely looks away, ensconced in his own hat like that.  When I get on the subway, all the adults look vacant and spiritually sparse.  At least there's one kid.  At least he's scowling with his hands jammed into the pockets of his jacket and thinking what look like serious thoughts.  At least he's swinging his little feet.  His socks are black and white striped.  His Adidas are the same ones my 25 year-old brother has.  Welcome to opening day, little boy.  Play ball, I guess.