GIVINGHEED/TO/HEEDSGIVING: Dis/Course with Sara Jane Stoner

Here we are: to pay attention to attention, all these stretchings-toward (grave and quotidian and determined and free and involuntary and disciplined and incidental and disposable and precious) that serve as source and resource of relational energy and presence and labor (matters of Foucault’s biopower) for so much; so much of what we do and do not want. In this Dis/Course, through active exercise and experiment, we will wind and loosen ourselves into piques and soothes of attention, individually and communally. Asking—what is this strange mix of stillness and movement, inwardness and outwardness: attention? What orients / locates / textures / attends / haunts my acts of: attention? With what spaciousness, duration, energy, urgency, care, expectation, desire do we wield: attention? What are the postures and prepositions and propositions of our: attention? And how is it that particular acts of embodied attention can translate forms of attention (like heat, conducted) among other bodies? (is this poetry?) Where are we and I and you and they in this moment of: attention? (of: love?) Through and about and around these questions, we will study and make a few scenes and parables of attention (with ourselves, writing) involving the help of: James Baldwin, Roland Barthes, Dionne Brand, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Samuel Delany, bell hooks, Garielle Lutz, Liz Kinnamon, Pauline Oliveros, and Simone Weil.

Sara Jane Stoner is a writer, poet, and teacher who currently works in the Architecture Writing Program at Pratt Institute, the New England Literature Program (an experiential learning project and temporary intentional community), as well as New York-based community organizations like the Poetry Project and Wendy’s Subway, along with holding classes virtually from her home. In her practices of reading and writing as actively social experiments in the creation and negotiation of subjects, within and without institutions, the relational recognition and mobilization of desire has always formed a weird center and mysterious periphery in all of her work. Her publications include Experience in the Medium of Destruction (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2015, nominated for a Lambda Award in Poetry), a chapbook “Grief Hour” (published in Black Warrior Review, 2017), the essay “Failing at Subjects” (VIDA, 2017), the anti-genre performance text “VNN LIVES” from Gloss Press, and forthcoming in 2022 an essay, “READING” in The Poetry Project Newsletter.

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