Skip to Content

Writing Workshops

A List Is a Letter: Techniques for Creating the Catalog Poem with Jessie McCarty


2 Sessions

Out of stock

Saturday & Sunday 12:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT June 10 to June 11, 2023

Online via Zoom

This course will consider how lists, order, and memory function in poetry. We’ll seek to inquire, interrogate, and build an understanding of writing the “catalog poem.”

Writers will consider modes of listing—ranging from the diary, to-do lists, planners, archives, and even receipts to capture narrative, structure, and reflection in their poetry practice. Writers will be encouraged to keep a list of notes throughout the course to share with the class, along with current reading lists, aspirations, and references. We’ll workshop students’ pieces and give each other written and oral feedback. We will read aloud, and collaborate as a class to answer the question, Is this poem a catalog? Is the list a poem?

We will consider the writings of George Perec, Moyra Davey, Susan Howe, Chen Chen, and CA Conrad, with videos from Agnes Varda and Moyra Davey, respectively.

Reading and video materials will be given two weeks before the course.

Course Outline

Session I: Introductions – What is a Catalog? What is a List? (On Susan Howe, Georges Perec), Making the List Personal: Discussions on Personal Diary and the Research Process (On Moyra Davey, Agnes Varda, Chen Chen).

Session II: Writings About Critical Cataloging and Subject Headings (On Emily Drabinski, Cataloging Structures, Group Collaboration). Finalizing Your Catalog Poem (An Index is Nothing But a Public Diary).

Capacity: 20


Led by

  • R43000014 - Jessie McCarty

    Jessie McCarty

    Jessie McCarty

    Jessie McCarty is a writer and cataloger in Chicago, whose works comprise poetry, archives, memory, and video. They have been nominated as Best New Poet in the Chicago Reader (2022); Best New Poetry Book for their memoir-hybrid collection The Bovine Huff (2022); and have writings in Pan Pan Press, Transliteration Magazine, Documentarian Magazine, The Cincinnati Art Book Fair, Queerport Journal, F News magazine, The Joan Flasch Special Collections, The Runaways Lab Theater, Shelf Shelf Store, and THICK Press (2024). They write to explore the nuance between artist archives and personal lore. They write in response catalogs, folklore, Irish translation, and Southern identity. They graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Creative Writing, with a focus on cataloging practices at the California Rare Book School. Awards include Best Art Film for the video Love in July (Digi Arts Festival, Louisiana). They were a featured speaker at the 2019 humanities conference MUSE for their project Pop Music and Prose Poems: An Exploration of The 1975 (Illinois Wesleyan University). They are the Co-Artistic Director of the Runaways Lab Theater, where they program the in-house Dramaturgy Fellowship.

    They are a cataloger at Potter and Potter Auctions.