Poetry with Clarence Major

Spend each morning workshop (9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.) with Clarence Major and a group of between 5 and 12 other poets.  Each participant will submit up to 5 poems (not more than 10 pages) for review by the workshop group.  The workshop will focus on poetic craft and is meant for poets intending to publish their work.  The workshop meets four mornings (Mon.-Thurs.) and each participant will receive focused feedback from the group on their poems.  Workshop packets with all submissions will be available for online download after July 15th.  Optional participant readings will be held.


Photo Credit: Fine Art America

Photo Credit: Fine Art America

CLARENCE MAJOR was a finalist for the National Book Awards (1999). He is recipient of many awards, among them, a National Council on The Arts Award (1970), a Fulbright (1981-1983), a Western States Book Award (1986) and two Pushcart prizes--one for poetry, one for fiction. Major is a contributor to many periodicals and anthologies in the USA, Europe, South America and Africa. He has served as judge for The National Book Awards, the PEN-Faulkner Award and twice for the National Endowment for The Arts. Major has traveled extensively and lived in various parts of the United States and for extended periods in France and Italy. He has lectured and read his work in dozens of U. S. universities as well as in England, France, Liberia, West Germany, Ghana, and Italy. Clarence Major is also currently a professor of twentieth century American literature at the University of California at Davis.

Major "has been in the forefront of experimental poetry and prose," Eugene B. Redmond writes in Parnassus. "In prose he fits 'loosely' into a category with William Melvin Kelley and Ishmael Reed. But his influences and antecedents are not so easy to identify." Perhaps best known for his novels, Major draws on his experience as a Southern African-American to "[defy] the white-imposed 'traditions' of black literature [and] to develop a brilliant lyricism in new forms of fiction," states Jerome Klinkowitz in The Life of Fiction. But Major's art, continues Klinkowitz, "inevitably turns back to the basic social and personal concerns which must remain at the heart of any literary experience." Noting the high incidence of violent scenes in Major's work, Black Creation critic Jim Walker comments, "Major has filled [his work] with the violence we expect of Southern life; violence of whites against Blacks, and more unfortunately, violence of Blacks against Blacks. . . . But the point Major is obviously trying to make with these kinds of scenes is that violence is an integral part of life for Southern Blacks and moreover, that it helps shape their lives and attitudes." 

Major's achievement, according to Klinkowitz in an African American Review overview of Major's career and works, "has been to show just how concretely we live within the imagination—how our lives are shaped by language and how by a simple act of self-awareness we can seize control of the world and reshape it to our liking and benefit."

-Poetry Foundation