Poetry Organizations from Across the United States Join Together to Offer Programs on the theme Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body
New York, NY (February 26, 2018)—This March the more than twenty organizations in ten cities nationwide that compose the Poetry Coalition will launch Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body, the coalition’s second annual programming initiative. For this collaborative effort, each organization will bring its unique mission to the task of presenting programs and projects on the theme of the body. Programs will include a range of events and publications that address issues including mass incarceration, transphobia, violence against people of color, and health and self-care. This programming is made possible in part by a grant from the Ford Foundation secured by the Academy of American Poets.
The phrase “Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live” is an excerpt from U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith’s poem “Flores Woman” from her collection Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award in 2006.
Now, more than ever, these organizations believe that poetry has a positive role to play in our country. It is through reading, writing, and discussing poems that we learn about one another on our most human level, inspiring empathy, compassion, and greater understanding of one another. Poetry Coalition members believe that by collaborating on programs, they will spotlight the art form’s unique ability to spark dialogues, create opportunities to engage in meaningful conversation, discover unexpected connections with one another, and inspire new readers.
All organizations and other interested are invited to program on this theme in March and share their efforts using the hashtags #MyDreamingMyLoving and #PoetryCoalition.
Here’s a look at what will take place across the country in March:
The Academy of American Poets in New York City will dedicate a week of its Poem-a-Day series to poems by contemporary poets Reginald Dwayne Betts, Meg Day, Heid E. Erdrich, Amanda Johnston, Lynn Melnick, TC Tolbert, and Javier Zamora that explore the theme of Poetry & the Body through several different lenses. Poem-a-Day is distributed to more than 450,000 readers each morning via email, social media, and syndication. Poets featured will also curate collections of poems by other poets that speak to the theme. The Academy will enlist the support of organizations outside of literature to help share the poems and educational resources.
The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers in New York City will invite the 13,000 students from across the United States who submitted poetry to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards this year to read “Flores Woman” over their school’s PA system on International Poetry Day, March 21. They will also collaborate with the artist—and Scholastic Awards alum—Karina Puente, who will create an original, large-scale papel picado (cut paper) work featuring “Flores Woman.” The art-making process will be recorded via time-lapse and the completion of the artwork will take place on Facebook live along with a reading of the poem by a young poet, also on March 21. In addition, Alumni of the National Student Poets Program will collaborate on a chapbook centered on Poetry & the Body. All students will be invited to develop their own innovative efforts to broaden the reach of the collaborative and share them on Instagram, and every student who participates will be eligible to receive gift certificates from Blick Art Materials.
Beyond Baroque in Los Angeles, California, will present three programs on the theme of Poetry & the Body: “May Sky: The Poetry of the Internment Camps,” a performance by Los Angeles poets, community members, and high school students of haiku written by Japanese-American citizens unjustly and inhumanely placed in internment camps by the U.S. government during World War II; “The Hum of Our Blood,” a reading and discussion by Madelyn Garner and Ramon García that will address the legacy of the AIDS epidemic, its differing representations in poetry and photography, and poetry’s role in coping with illness and loss; and a reading and workshop by gender-liminal poet C. Bain that will focus on gender and embodiment.
CantoMundo in New York City will partner with the editors of Puerto Rico en Mi Corazón (Anomalous Press, 2017) to present a #PoetsForPuertoRico reading, featuring Puerto Rican poets from the island and in the diaspora. This event is in support of the publication of Puerto Rico en Mi Corazón, a collection of letterpress broadsides of 20 Puerto Rican poets writing in English and Spanish. Printed in both languages, the broadsides feature work by both emerging and established poets living on the island and in the diaspora: afro-boricuas, mixed and white-boricuas, indigenx, as well as poets of all genders. Sales of the broadsides will go to support Taller Salud, a non-profit organization that provides health services to low income communities of color, women, and LGBTQ Puerto Ricans on the island.
Cave Canem in Brooklyn, New York, will share an exquisite corpse on March 1. This fully formed poem made of independently formed fragments—will be composed of lines written by Cave Canem faculty and fellows. Using poetic lines inspired by or in honor of the body, this poem will reimagine our individual voices as composing one body. The exquisite corpse will debut on cavecanempoets.org and be shared on Cave Canem’s and other Poetry Coalition members’ social media channels. When sharing, Cave Canem will invite its networks to consider the disparate parts of their singular form, and the ways in which bodies take shape from both within and without. On March 23,, Cave Canem will host its first-ever open mic, inviting participants to read work on the theme of the body. The program will close with a reading of the Cave Canem exquisite corpse.
The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program in Newark, New Jersey, will launch the “Whose Body?” project, which includes a video series featuring eight poets, a day-long social media event that seeks to challenge the unrealistic and toxic images of “the perfect body,” and a day of performances, readings, conversations, and writing activities by over a dozen poets.
Kundiman in New York City will celebrate Poetry & the Body with a Postcard Project during the month of March. Kundiman fellows will send and receive postcards each day of the month and will also open the project up via social media to anyone who would like to participate. Writers can explore #MyDreamingMyLoving in many ways: thinking through Asian American identity, #metoo, love and desire, incarceration, and perceptions of our bodies. On March 12, Kundiman will be hosting a free generative writing workshop to explore the theme of Poetry & the Body at the Asian American Arts Alliance in Brooklyn.
Lambda Literary in Los Angeles, California, will feature on its website one essay a week by an LGBTQ poet on the theme of Poetry & the Body. Lambda Literary will also feature poems by LGBTQ poets centered on the theme. Lambda Literary will also celebrate a soft launch of Nepantla, an anthology composed of writing by queer poets of color in collaboration with Nightboat Books, at the event “Queer Mixer” on March 8 during the Associated Writers & Writing Programs Conference in Tampa, Florida.
Letras Latinas at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies in Notre Dame, Indiana, has commissioned award-winning poet Javier Zamora to compose new poems that engage with this year’s theme. Zamora will unveil these at public readings in Washington, D.C., on February 28 and in Chicago on March 22, in collaboration with the Poetry Foundation. During his several-day stay in the District, Zamora will also visit and engage with students at a bilingual elementary school in Columbia Heights. Throughout March, Letras Latinas will partner with The Best American Poetry blog to present work on the theme of the body by ten poets who identify as women, half of them from the Latinx community.
Mass Poetry in Boston, Massachusetts,will host a special reading on the theme of Poetry & the Body for Massachusetts poets under thirty-five years old. It will also administer a contest inspired by the same theme; excerpts from the winning poems will be displayed on the streets of Salem in its Raining Poetry project during the tenth Massachusetts Poetry Festival in May. Using a biodegradable water-repellent spray and stencils made by local artists, the organization will place poems throughout the streets of Salem. The spray vanishes once dry, so the poems are invisible—until it rains. Once wet, the area around the poems will darken, enabling passersby to read them. An excerpt from Tracy K. Smith’s poem “Flores Woman” will also appear on Boston’s subways throughout the month as part of Mass Poetry’s Poetry on the T program.
O, Miami in Florida is collaborating with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center to produce a unique poetry engagement project with cancer patients. On March 3, poet Melanie Almeder will lead a two-hour workshop for the Sylvester community focused on reading and writing poems that “re-claim” the space of one’s body. Participants will read poems about the body and respond with their own poems. On March 5, there will be a henna tattoo workshop featuring the workshop participants’ poems.
The Poetry Center, San Francisco State University in California will present a reading and conversation by Lily Hoang and Jackie Wang on March 1, 7 pm at The Poetry Center, Humanities 512, San Francisco State University. On Saturday, March 3, it will host a reading and book party for Jackie Wang’s Carceral Capitalism, brand new in Semiotext(e)’s Interventions Series; she’ll be joined by Lily Hoang, reading from her latest remarkable book, A Bestiary (Cleveland State University Poetry Center), 7 pm at The Green Arcade, 1680 Market Street, San Francisco.
The Poetry Foundation in Chicago, Illinois, will cosponsor with Letras Latinas a reading by Javier Zamora. A 2016 recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, Zamora was born in the small El Salvadoran coastal fishing town of La Herradura and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine, joining his parents in California. His chapbook Nueve Años Inmigrantes/Nine Immigrant Years won the 2011 Organic Weapon Arts Contest, and his first poetry collection, Unaccompanied, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2017.
The Poetry Society of America in New York City, in collaboration with the International Center of Photography Museum (ICP), will present Japanese Internment: Public Memory and Cultural Production, a two-part event that brings together artists, scholars, poets, and photographers who draw on the history of Japanese incarceration during World War II and its archival, material evidence in their innovative practices. The two-part event will be in conjunction with the exhibition Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, on view at the ICP Museum through May 6.
Poets House in New York City will host “Poetry & The Body,” a reading on March 3 at 3 pm featuring six former Emerging Poets Fellows—Chia-Lun Chang, Alex Cuff, Rico Frederick, Ricardo Hernandez, Cynthia Manick, and Adeeba Talukder—who will present commissioned new work based on the theme of Poetry & the Body. Each Fellow was invited to spend some time in the Poets House library and asked to select five items that address the theme of Poetry & the Body. Based on their discoveries, the Fellows were commissioned to write new essays and poetry. This work will be gathered in a folio and co-published: first in Los Angeles Review of Books in March, featuring an introduction by former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera; and then on Poets House’s new website in April. The Fellows will present and read from their new writings at the Poets House reading on March 3, to be followed by a discussion and Q&A.
Split This Rock in Washington, DC, will present a week-long series of events on the theme Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body and marking its 10th anniversary cultivating, teaching, and celebrating poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. The poet Jeanann Verlee, whose poetry and advocacy often challenges sexual harassment and assault, will feature at both youth and adult programs, culminating at a special Sunday Kind of Love program at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC March 18, 5 to 8 pm, along with Lauren May, an alumna of Split This Rock’s DC Youth Slam Team and now a teaching artist with the organization. Poet-activists will share reflections on ten years of putting their bodies and their poems to work for change. The week will also feature poets celeste doaks and Katy Richey from the Black Ladies Brunch Collective leading a community writing workshop and former top youth poets Kenny Carroll, Bobbi Johnson, and Gaelyn Smith – all young African American poets whose work addresses the challenges, risks, and joys attendant upon their lives in our current climate – featuring at the finals for the 2018 DC Youth Slam Team.
The University of Arizona Poetry Center in Tucson will offer programs centered on trans poetry and poetics, including a month-long series on the Poetry Center’s 1508 blog and a featured reading with poet and critic Stephanie Burt, who will read from her recent work on gender and identity on March 15. Burt’s reading will be followed by a panel with Tucson Poet Laureate TC Tolbert in an extended conversation on trans poetry and poetics.
Urban Word in New York City will host a reading on March 15 by National Youth Poet Laureates Mila Cuda, William Lohier, Cassidy Martin, Patricia Frazier, and Rukmini Kalamangalam at the Library of Congress. Michael Cirelli, Executive Director of Urban Word NYC, will lead a discussion after the reading. This event is cosponsored by the Library of Congress Young Readers Center.
The Wick Poetry Center of Kent State University in Ohio will focus on events and outreach that address issues of the body—specifically the topics of the community’s opioid crisis and women’s health and advocacy—through writing workshops and discussions supported by the Portage Medical Center Foundation at the University Hospitals Portage Medical Center and the Kent United Church of Christ in Ohio. On March 16, the Wick Poetry Center will also present Writing the Body, a workshop dedicated during the Women’s Center’s Feminist Friday event. Participants will use the Wick Poetry Center’s digital and analog tools to contribute to a community poem about the body. At the end of the month, the collaborative poem will be designed as a Traveling Stanzas poster and postcard.
Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will host a free reading on March 17 by Nikki Wallschlaeger, Jay Besemer, and Jose-Luis Moctezuma organized by Milwaukee Poet Laureate Roberto Harrison. Print pieces featuring work by the poets will be available at the event courtesy of Oxeye Press.
About the Poetry Coalition
The Poetry Coalition is a national alliance of organizations dedicated working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. The Academy of American Poets serves as the administrative and fiscal lead for the Poetry Coalition. The University of Arizona Poetry Center and the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University assist with this work. The full membership list can be found here: www.poets.org/academy-american-poets/poetry-coalition. To learn more about the history of the Poetry Coalition: www.poets.org/academy-american-poets/history-poetry-coalition. For more information about future events and initiatives, email [email protected].