When Art Makes You Lose Your Mind
In these tumultuous times, artists are not only responding to internal demons, but external, socio-political ones as well. All of these muses are fraught with inherent mental stress. When you are motivated to dig deeper than ever before to deliver urgent art—even at the expense of your own mental health—who will witness the witness?
This workshop is for those who are undertaking art that is forcing them to encounter deep-seated personal/social/political pain, grief, fear and/or anger. While art often touches these emotions, there are times when an artist feels compelled to express them before the emotions have been harnessed, processed or even survived. There are times when the artist is creating art about a shipwreck while the ship is sinking. At other times, a seemingly dispassionate work may strike an unexpected vein of emotion that is difficult to manage while continuing to create.
Artists in all genres who are having difficulty balancing their art with their mental health will benefit from this exploration. Panelists will address the pitfalls of creativity and mental health, and how they coped while delivering emotionally wrenching projects. THIS WILL NOT BE A THERAPY SESSION to discuss personal traumas and/or specific mental health diagnses. This session is about how to survive the deep cut of artmaking, and how to preserve sanity when doing your hardest work.
Panelists: Desiree Cooper (fiction/memoir), Sherina Rodriquez (playwright), Kelly Fordon (poet), Debra Ann Brodie (licensed psychologist)
Desiree Cooper is a 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, former attorney and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist. Her debut collection of flash fiction, Know the Mother (Wayne State University Press, 2016), has won numerous awards, including a 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award. The book explores the gender norms which press down upon women’s lives, especially the mantle of “mother.” Her current project is The Relative Past, a creative nonfiction book exploring intergenerational trauma. The book will interrogate the persistence of generational memory as her mother succumbs to Alzheimer’s, and how trauma is passed from mother to daughter. www.descooper.com
Kelly Fordon’s work has appeared in The Florida Review, The Kenyon Review (KRO), Rattle and various other journals. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks. The first, On the Street Where We Live, won the 2012 Standing Rock Chapbook Award. Her latest chapbook, The Witness, is a collection of poems based upon the testimonies of SNAP members (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). The Witness won the 2016 Eric Hoffer Award for the Chapbook and was shortlisted for the Grand Prize. Her novel-in-stories, Garden for the Blind, deals with the issues of classism and racism in a majority-white community. It was chosen as a Michigan Notable Book, a 2016 Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Finalist, a Midwest Book Award Finalist, an Eric Hoffer Finalist, and an IPPY Awards Bronze Medalist. She works for The College for Creative Studies, Springfed Arts and The InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit. www.kellyfordon.com
Sherina Rodriguez Sharpe is a Cave Canem Fellow and a 2014 Kresge Artist Fellow in Theatre/Film. With her 2015 play, "On Becoming Unfukwitable," she forged new dramatic territory with a searing insight into how a daughter transcends molestation by her father. The production blends healing practices and multiple genres to create a group story-telling experience. Her ability to create a safe space for survivors makes “Unfukwitable” an insightful, evocative, liberating and transformative experience.
Debra Ann Brodie, PhD is a fully-licensed, Detroit psychologist who integrates psychodynamic theory (for increasing awareness) with cognitive-behavioral techniques (for breaking the hold of old, previously helpful, cognitions). All of this is couched within the framework of positive psychology, the new science of thriving. She has been practicing for more than 30 years.
Writing Workshops Detroit - Sign up HERE!
Good writing shares a common element regardless of genre: powerful storytelling. This three-hour class will explore the critical elements of storytelling, and look at examples of story arc in poetry, fairytales, micro fiction and even jokes! Participants will learn how to deploy language to take readers on a journey, whether writing poetry, essays or short stories. The class will be generative and experimental, no need to bring in previous work. Perfect for those who are stuck in their writing and looking for new inspiration, or for new writers who don’t know how to get started.
CLICK HERE to sign up now. Space is limited!
Instructor Desiree Cooper is a 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, former attorney and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist. Her debut collection of flash fiction, Know the Mother (Wayne State University Press, 2016), is a 2017 Michigan Notable Book that has won numerous awards, including the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award. Cooper’s fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2018, Callaloo, Hypertext Review, Best African American Fiction 2010 and This is the Place, among other online and print publications. Cooper was a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for emerging black poets. She is currently a Kimbilio Fellow, a national residency for African American fiction writers.
Desiree Cooper will present at the “IAS Thursdays” series of the University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). The IAS is the University’s system-wide center for interdisciplinary, innovative faculty research. The weekly series is our regular public program showcasing creative scholarship and convening conversations on critical issues.
Desiree Cooper will be the featured author at the Columbia College Creative Writing Series. Place and time TBD
Kalamazoo Valley Community College
6767 W O Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Desiree Cooper will be reading at the First Person Plural Series, founded in 2011 to bring more attention to creative communities in Harlem. This series invites inventive, inspiring writers and artists to showcase work written from a “we” or plural POV. Now in its fifth year, the series was founded by Amy Benson, Stacy Parker Le Melle, Melody Nixon and Wendy Walters.
Desiree Cooper will be the featured author at the annual Sallie Author Visit, a reading series that honors the contributions of Sallie Brodie. She will be reading from her new book, Know the Mother, a collection of flash fiction that explores the dimensions of gender and sexism in intimate settings.
With co-panelists Kelly Fordon (Garden of the Blind) and Andrew Mozina (Contrary Motion), Desiree Cooper (Know the Mother) will discuss the "Quest for Identity." The panel will be moderated by author Donald Lystra (Something That Feels Like Truth).
Desiree Cooper: In Know the Mother, author Desiree Cooper explores the complex archetype of the mother in all of her incarnations. In a collage of meditative stories, women—both black and white—find themselves wedged between their own yearnings and their roles as daughters, sisters, grandmothers, and wives.
A 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, Cooper is a former attorney, Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist, and Detroit community activist. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Callaloo, Detroit Noir, Best African American Fiction 2010, and Tidal Basin Review, among other online and print publications. Cooper was a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for emerging black poets, and she is a Kimbilio fellow, a national residency for African American fiction writers.
Kelly Fordon: In Kelly Fordon’s Garden for the Blind, trouble lurks just outside the door for diverse yet interdependent characters. As a young girl growing up in an affluent suburb bordering Detroit, Alice Townley and her friend Mike decide to pin a crime on another student at their exclusive high school, the consequences will reverberate for years to come. Set between 1974 and 2012, Fordon’s intricately woven stories follow Alice and Mike through high school, college, and into middle age, but also skillfully incorporate stories of their friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers who are touched by the same themes of privilege, folly, neglect, and resilience.
Prior to writing fiction and poetry, Kelly Fordon worked at the NPR member station in Detroit and for National Geographic magazine. Her fiction, poetry, and book reviews have appeared in The Boston Review, The Florida Review, Flashquake, The Kenyon Review, and various other journals. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, On the Street Where We Live, which won the 2011 Standing Rock Chapbook Contest, and Tell Me When It Starts to Hurt, which was published by Kattywompus Press in 2013. She received her MFA in fiction writing from Queens University of Charlotte and works for InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit as a writer-in-residence.
Andy Mozina: Funny, poignant, and thoroughly engaging, Contrary Motion is a journey deep inside a male mind as it searches—desperately—for a way to balance life, love, and a harp. When his father dies unexpectedly (while listening to a meditation tape), Matthew Grzbc’s life begins to come untethered. In quick succession his ex-wife gets engaged, his girlfriend begins to pull away, and his daughter starts acting out. With a potentially life-changing audition rapidly approaching, Matt is paralyzed by panic—why can’t he hold it together and follow his dream? And what does that even mean, if you’re not sure what it is you really want?
Andy Mozina is a professor of English at Kalamazoo College and the author of the short story collections The Women Were Leaving the Men, which won the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and Quality Snacks, which was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Prize. His fiction has also appeared in numerous magazines, including Tin House and McSweeney’s. He lives in Michigan with his wife and daughter.
Desiree Cooper joins Detroit's poetry/music guru M.L. Liebler and spoken word poet Mark Levin for the "Poets and Pies" reading series at Hannan House.
FREE & OPEN TO ALL!!!!
Hosted by M. L. Liebler & Diane DeCillis
FREE PIE and teas courtesy of Steep Show Teas and coffee too!
Two writers who were also attorneys read together from their fiction this evening. Kresge Artist Fellow Desiree Cooper will read from her short story collection, Know the Mother (Wayne State University Press), in which she explores the complex archetype of the mother in all of her incarnations, wedged between their own yearnings and their roles as daughters, sisters, grandmothers and wives.
Reading with Desiree Cooper tonight will be Seattle author Tara Conklin, whose novel, The House Girl, interweaves the story of an escaped slave with that of an attorney seeking a plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking compensation for the descendants of slaves..
Desiree Cooper will be the opening keynote speaker for the annual 826 National Staff Development Conference. 826 provides high-quality writing education and tutoring to more than 30,000 students annually, entirely free of charge, including more than 3,000 students in Southeast Michigan.
Desiree Cooper will be presenting with Anne Elizabeth Moore, on the themes of gender and power.
Open to the public with a $5 suggested donation.
2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, Desiree Cooper is a former attorney, Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist, and Detroit community activist. The author of Know the Mother, her fiction and poetry have appeared in Callaloo, Detroit Noir, Best African American Fiction 2010, and Tidal Basin Review, among other online and print publications. Cooper was a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for emerging black poets, and she is a Kimbilio fellow, a national residency for African American fiction writers.
Anne Elizabeth Moore is an award-winning journalist, best-selling comics anthologist, and internationally lauded cultural critic. She is a Fulbright Scholar, UN Press Fellow, and USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellow, and teaches Visual & Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was born in Winner, SD. She has two cats. In 2016, she was awarded the third fellowship in Detroit’s unique Write A House program.