with Gina Franco
Gina Franco was born and raised in Clifton-Morenci, Arizona. She earned degrees from Smith College and from Cornell University. She is the author of The Keepsake Storm (2004), which includes poems that explore an uneasy alliance between the vehemence of memory and the surrealism of narrative, especially in light of language, place, faith, and identity.
Franco’s work is anthologized in A Best of Fence: the First Nine Years, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing, and The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity. She has served as contributing editor to Latino Poetry Review and acquiring art editor of Pilgrimage Magazine. Her honors include residencies and fellowships with Casa Libre en la Solana, the Santa Fe Writers’ Conference, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Franco is an Oblate with the monastic order of the Community of St John. She teaches at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.
If there is any tension between spiritual and artistic life, it is upheld by the need to keep religion and art distinct. Some of Western Christianity’s most celebrated writers—Simone Weil, Thomas Merton, and Gerard Manley Hopkins, for example—wrestled with the competing claims of these two realms. A classic example of this tension is the mystical experience has been linked to silent contemplation and humility while artistic writing is often associated with egotism, self-absorption, and a desire for power. This workshop will emphasize the way in which spiritual writing can become a form of contemplation, meditation, and prayer. We will explore the ancient monastic emphasis on reading, contemplation, community, and work to transform the modern poetry workshop into an experience that leads to a more profound spiritual engagement with writing poetry.