Much uncertainty and anxiety has defined the past year. We witnessed violence in real time as racial strife spread throughout the country. In person or from images in the news, we saw lengthy voter lines and heard the rhetoric leading up to and the fall-out from one of the most significant presidential elections in modern times. During this time, the global pandemic exposed the lack of healthcare, housing, and work protections for millions of Americans. For those of us more fortunate we continue living our lives on any number of internet platforms for work, for school, for spiritual sustenance. The pandemic has also forced us to reckon with mortality as many of us find ourselves part of a capacious circle of loss that has included family and friends, distant and near. Despite—or perhaps because of—the fatigue these challenges bring, many poets are searching for and writing poems that acknowledge our basic humanity in the simplest of ways. A New York poet friend who writes research-based poems about environmental loss has begun writing humor poems. A Boston poet recently noted on public radio that “[w]e have a deep need for richness, sweetness, especially when everything is falling apart.” This poetry workshop is interested in poems that speak to this hunger for the richness and sweetness in the world, as well as poems that distill the essence of that which has appeared before our eyes under a newfound clarity and focus since March 2020. In this workshop poets will read and briefly discuss works that gesture toward this focus. Ample time will be given for in-class writing, peer workshop, and revision. While the workshop is generative, writers wishing to workshop previously written work are welcome.
Niki Herd is the author of The Language of Shedding Skin and co-editor of Laura Hershey: On the Life & Work of an American Master, which features the poetry of and critical essays about disability activist Laura Hershey. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets (Poem-a-Day), Lit Hub, The Rumpus, Obsidian, Tupelo Quarterly, and The Break Beat Poets Volume 2: Black Girl Magic, among other journals and anthologies. Her work has been supported by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Cave Canem. In 2018, Herd was a recipient of a Newberry Library Archival Theory and Practice Fellowship. Currently, she lives in Texas where she is an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor Fellow of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston.