Back to All Events

Monthly Meeting: Martha Deed on Poetry from Genealogy

  • St John Fisher College 3690 East Avenue Rochester, NY, 14618 United States (map)

Thanks to the internet and inexpensive DNA test kits, climbing one’s family tree is not the daunting task it used to be. No need to roam far-flung cemeteries and county clerks’ offices seeking slivers of information for a single individual. With a computer what used to be a month’s hard work often takes under an hour. But why do it?

For poets, genealogy can trigger poems based not only on historical facts about individuals, but also provide a window into values and cultures of a different age, and opportunities to reflect on our current times. The resulting poems may be stories, riddle poems, or experiments in what history and poetry can make when they are fused.

Martha Deed’s forthcoming Under the Rock, from FootHills Publishing, combines genealogical research & training in history, psychology and research together in a series of poems. In her workshop, she’ll outline her investigative and writing process, read a couple of examples, and present materials for participants to create their own poems from historical documents and genealogical material readily available, often without the necessity of subscriptions or fees on the internet.

Computers and wireless access are not necessary for the workshop. Martha will provide handouts for 3 multi-layered cases. Each illustrates what this type of investigation can reveal. These may include: the first marriage on Long Island (Walt Whitman’s ancestor), a boat with a colorful history (a grandfather who was a naval architect), and a problematic brother’s effect on his sister poet (a cousin lawyer with an overbearing sense of duty). Each participant can choose one of the examples to start or make a poem.

After the main program we’ll have our usual workshop from 3:00 to 4:00 Bring 8 copies of a poem you are working on for our group workshops that run after the program (from 3:00 to 4:00 pm).

Golisano Academic Gateway, 2nd Floor, Mid-level Meeting Room

Parking Lot A is the lot that  Security wants us to use.  However, if someone has difficulty walking you can be dropped off at the Fahy Bldg door.  It's across from parking lot E.   

Parking Lot A is to the right as you turn into Fisher campus at light.  Getting to Fahy bldg door, you have to drive around the outer loop of campus, stay on the road that leads onto campus and go around the bend and up a slow hill.  You will see the business school on left, just beyond that is Lot E and the entrance to Fahy on your right. You would have to be dropped off, then your driver should return to Lot A to park. I talked to security and they know JP will be on campus.

Martha Deed.png