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Forms & Features Online with Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí

August 6, 2022, 12:00 PM2:00 PM EDT


All are welcome to to a poetry discussion and creative writing workshop, “The Poetry of Glossolalia,” created and led by Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí.

In this session, we will discuss glossolalia as a poetic form by engaging work by poets who are making the poetry of prayer today and work by Black African poets of the twentieth century. Poetry deeply kins prayer; it is attentiveness—Simone Weil wrote that “Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.” Glossolalia is distinctly articulated in Christendom as a prayer that happens through the one who is “praying”: attentiveness becomes a surrendering of the will, the energy of consciousness finds fresh courses through which it flows with sweet ease, and the observed world is born anew. By attending to this form: How can we revive and revitalise the language of prayer when we bring it into a poem? What can we learn by engaging work by poets such as Kaveh Akbar, Danez Smith, and Christian Wiman, who resists calling his poems prayers, though they are phonologically emplotted in that mode, and work by Birago Diop and Wole Soyinka? By trying out Paul Celan’s Surrealist Questions—as Wiman asked, can we learn to hear words such as gracepraisehallelujahsin “with fresh ears”?

Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí (he/him/his) writes from Nigeria. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in AGNI, Joyland, Kenyon Review, Cincinnati Review, the minnesota review, the Moth, Worcester Review, the South Carolina Review, PoetryIreland ReviewMooncalves: An Anthology of Weird Fiction, and elsewhere. In 2019, he curated The Fire That Is Dreamed Of: The Young African Poets Anthology, the first anthology of poems by teenage African poets in the continent and its diaspora. He has been shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Poetry Prize 2022; he is the winner of the inaugural Miracle Monocle Award for Young Black Writers from the University of Louisville; and was a winner in the No Tokens Young Poets’ Prize 2020. In 2021, he taught poetry through the Nairobi Writing Academy. His debut chapbook, A Pocket of Genesis, was recently selected for publication by Variant Literature. Ògúnyẹmí is currently working toward a BA in History and International Studies at Lagos State University.

Registration is required; space is limited. To register, email with the date and time of the session you would like to attend. If you would like to attend more than one workshop this month, please let us know which topic and session time is your first choice, second choice, etc. We will do our best to accommodate everyone’s wishes while allowing as many people to participate in these workshops as is possible. This program is for adult participants, aged 18 and older.

Closed captioning is available via Google Meet. We are happy to provide ASL interpretation. Please let us know at least one week in advance, if possible, if you would benefit from an ASL interpreter in attendance. If you would benefit from any other accessibility measures, please contact us by emailing To learn more about Google Meet’s built-in accessibility features visit


August 6, 2022
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT