Afaa Weaver

BA, University of the State of New York. MA, Brown University. (Previously known as Michael S. Weaver.) Poet, playwright, and translator, Weavers 15th collection of poetry is Spirit Boxing (U Pitt, 2017). Recipient of four Pushcart prizes, an NEA in poetry in 1985, a 1993 PDI Award in playwriting, the 2014 Kingsley Tufts, the 2015 Phyllis Wheatley Book Award, a 2017 Guggenheim fellowship, the 2019 St. Botolph Club Foundation Distinguished Artist Award, and the 2019 Art and Literature Medal from the Chinese Writers’ and Artists’ Association, he has taught at New York University, Brooklyn College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, and Rutgers, where he received tenure. In 2017, Weaver retired from Simmons College, where he held the Alumnae Chair in English for 20 years. He is a member of the core faculty in Drew University’s low-residency MFA program in Poetry and Translation. In his native Baltimore, Weaver spent 15 years as a factory worker. He was first faculty at Cave Canem's 1997 retreat and is the first Elder of the Cave Canem Organization. SLC, 2018

Graduate Courses

MFA Writing 2019-2020

Poetry Craft: Craft, That Which Can Be Spoken


In this course, we will examine closed and open forms of poetry—beginning with a form called “the bop,” which was invented in the late 20th century. "The bop" involves the use of musical structures and has been compared to the sonnet. Our initial discussions of form will involve ideas of language, sound, and patterns that, I hope, will give us a chance to review as well as to explore as we move through some familiar forms such as the villanelle. In looking at open form, we will look at older published works in historical context, such as the early work of John Ashberry and ideas of abstract organization in works by Sekou Sundiata and Jayne Cortez, both of whom should give us a chance to look at the performative dimensions in poetry. The earlier work of Langston Hughes, with its use of montage, will give us a chance to discuss the ways in which poetry can borrow from structures in film. At various points in the course, I will make reference to the Dao De Jing as a framing device for our discussions. In chapter 24, for example, there is a frame for discussion of balance in the line. The overall objectives of the course are lively in-class discussions toward the production of new and exploratory writing.


Previous Courses

Poetry Workshop


In this workshop, we will combine the exploration of our own new writing with discussions of readings assigned each week from a diverse list of books, including poetry by Kamau Brathwaite, Marilyn Chin, Robert Pinsky, Cynthia Hogue, Martin Espada, and Carol Ann Duffy. We should look forward to engaging discussions, including aspects of subject and structure, cultural embodiment and borrowing, and topical writing. Pointed discussions of line edits can extend to an ongoing investigation of how we are led by our imagination and how we may take hold of our imagination and lead it. In addition to our weekly readings, I may make spontaneous additions of individual poems, especially translated works. Translation, in its theory and application, should be an ongoing interest. Our weekly discussions of the readings will, I hope, be a deep and honest sharing of our responses to published work in the service of maintaining the workshop as a safe, open, and generative space where we can nourish our pursuit of the art.