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

Previous Courses

MFA Writing

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.


Poetry Workshop


In the space and time of the workshop I hope to guide everyone to new writing and engaging discussions of poetry. Each week's session will begin with a brief discussion of the work of a poet from a list to be included with the syllabus. It will be an international list, and one with some poets from earlier points in the twentieth century. I will also suggest readings of prose works about poetry. My hope is that you will be inspired to produce two new poems per week and select from them a portfolio of twenty poems for the final product of the semester. I will also offer prompts and suggestions for writing in forms.