Medieval Road Movies: Ibn Ezra’s Hay ben Meqitz
A generative Poetry and Astrology workshop with Óscar Moisés Díaz
$100 to participate
Saturday July 23rd and Sunday 24th at 4:10pm-6:10pm EST
I was recently asked at a Q&A what it is like being both a poet and astrologer because it seemed like an unusual combination. I responded by saying that they are historically pretty inseperable. Ancient astrological texts were often written as poetic verse and a student would memorize passages and through rhyme could summon/reference their teachings at any time. There is something about both the poet and astrologer being translators of time and the cosmos. Fellow poet-astrologer Ariana Reines once said that poetry isn’t a spectator sport and I would say the same is true about astrology.
What inspired me to develop this workshop was my own deep urgency to feel more connected to my astrological ancestors. I often see people quoting famous astrologers in the tradition and mining techniques from their texts, but not having much interest and/or knowledge about who they actually were, what their philosophical views were, the cultural and historical context that surrounds them, etcetc. I hope that this workshop will be a space where we can all get closer.
THE HAY BEN MEQITZ:
Abraham Ibn Ezra wrote on everything from religion, philosophy, grammar, medicine, astronomy, astrology, nutrition, mathamatetics, biblical commentary, to even how one might approach the game of chess. Ibn Ezra is considered one of the greatest poets of his time. That brings us to the Hay ben Meqitz which has had genre terms attached to it ranging from “philosophical tales,” “allegories,” “visionary recitals,” “philosophical treatises,” etc but I have come to really love how Dr. Hughes has referred to the work using the term “initatory tale.” Ibn Ezra began to write this work in response to a request by fellow poet/philosopher Jacob ibn Jam’a during his stay in Tunis. The workshop title was inspired by Wim Wenders describing his film Wings of Desire as a “vertical road.” The Hay ben Meqitz is a vertical journey as well of the soul ascending through the heavenly spheres. Bruno Ganz as Damiel was headed down and with Ibn Ezra we are headed up! I hope this is the first installment in a series of workshops under the banner Medieval Road Movies where I bring us together around a Medieval text.
The 1st Hour:
I will lead us through echo reading of selections from Ibn Ezra’s Hay ben Meqitz while sharing scholarly insights about the material as we go along. I expect really lively discussion in the chat box of the zoom room. As an educator, it is always my intention to create a space in which we can think and learn alongside one another safely and experimentally. I am not here to tell you WHAT to think, but rather to get you THINKING.
I ask that you come to the workshop with respect for what we each know and do not know with an eye toward experimentation and questioning, and (ego-wise) a willingness (in the words of Algerian writer Houria Bouteldja) "to lower what rises."
The 2nd Hour:
As we shift into the second hour, I will present a variety of writing prompts based on the material and we shall write together till about ten minutes before class ends. I will be DJ’ing and keeping the vibe throughout. In those last ten minutes, anyone who wishes to read out loud what they wrote may do so.
A bit about me:
My name is Óscar Moisés Díaz (they/him/her) and some hats I wear are poet-astrologer, film curator, editor, lecturer, beginner astromage, visual artist etc. I’ve exhibited art in places such as the 10th Central American Biennial, the International Film Festival of El Salvador, the Queens Museum, Museum of Art El Salvador, and a solo exhibit at The Museum of Contemporary Art Costa Rica among others. I was a 2020-2021 Inaugural Curatorial Fellow at the Poetry Project as a member of Tierra Narrative. I recently finished a writing residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts under the mentorship of Eileen Myles. To hear some of my recent poems check out my participation at The Whitney Biennial 2022. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor for Asphalte and a Poetry in Translation Editor for Fence. Some of you might know me from Terrible Angels: Poetics of the Impossible which was a three month “risk vessel” of a poetry/film/philosophy/art class that I co-lead with Emmalea Russo.
Instagram | Twitter
(please note these are my only official social media and beware of my imposters)
If you’ve taken a workshop with me before you know that I like to build a special discord server to act as a sort of optional village for our time outside the zoom. This time is no different. As part of the welcome packet, you will recieve an invitation to a private discord where we can continue to share our works in process, announcements, continue discussions from class, share resources, and just get to know each other more beyond the weekend. This has always been a highlight of teaching for me. I’ve been moved at the rigor, generosity and community building in past discords where many study groups, virtual movie nights, class reunion zooms, zines, folios etc have been born from spirited workshop attendees organizing amongst themselves in the discord village to keep pushing their work going. I love when people make new friends through my offerings.
*Please note that our sessions will be recorded via Zoom, but I ask that you only sign up if you can make it both days as gathering and conversing is a big part of what will make this workshop work! Video recordings will be shared within 48 hours after the workshop ends and will not be shared with anyone outside of the workshop or sold after the workshop and I ask that you also do not circulate the recordings out of respect for our lovely container.
I seek to always facilitate spaces that have zero tolerance for oppressive bullshit. I will interrupt oppressive behavior should it arise, defined as any conduct that demeans, marginalizes, rejects, threatens or harms anyone on the basis of ability, age, cultural background, education, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, language, nationality, physical appearance, race, religion, or sexual orientation etc. I reserve the right to remove anyone from the workshop at any moment. I have extremely dignified malefics so I have no issue making such decisions with the quickness. There are no refunds in general, but let me state it here that if you are removed from the workshop, you will get no refund from me.
One Select Testimonial (for the sake of length):
“It was generative, magical, intimate. Do you know how euphoric it is to meet a group with the same disparate and obscure interests as you? I thought it was impossible. To figure a group so close spanning the large realms of film, poetry, theory, art, astrology. We weren’t just talking about a book or poem or film, but the bridges between them, the places outside them. Out of bounds. 12th house stuff. Òscar and Emmalea are brilliant and absurdly generous. They gave us the backstory, the inside-out, showed us how it’s all woven together. I finally clicked with Walter Benjamin because Emmalea said Saturn. And Òscar showed us Kim Hyesoon. She changed my life, I remembered how to write with my ears. I wrote stuff outside my notebook for the first time in 4 years. I’m still writing.”
-K on Terrible Angels: Poetics of the Impossible which I co-taught with Emmalea Russo
TO SIGN UP:
please send an email to this special email I created: firstname.lastname@example.org
include the following:
Name, pronouns, a little about your interest and/or background with astrology and poetry, how you will be paying (venmo or cashapp and if you are outside the USA I will take paypal/wise if need be.) If you want to do a split payment, please just let me know. Don’t overthink the part about astrology/poetry in this email, I love beginners and it’s just to know where everyone is at. Everyone is welcome and there certaintly isn’t anything you need to already know. Also let me know in this email if you wish to be added to a mailing list for the sole purpose of being notified for future lectures/workshops of mine.
Title the email: Save Me A Seat
I will cap the workshop at around 20-30 students.
I have a no refund policy.
I can’t for all of us to hit the road. Bring snacks.