The Academy of American Poets dedicated a week of its Poem-a-Day series to poems by contemporary poets Reginald Dwayne Betts, Meg Day, Amanda Johnston, Lynn Melnick, TC Tolbert, and Javier Zamora, which explored 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 also curated a collections of poems by other poets that spoke to the theme. The Academy enlisted the support of organizations outside of literature to help share the poems and educational resources.
Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live
Poetry & the Body
Any and all were invited to program on this theme in March and share their efforts using the hashtags #MyDreamingMyLoving and #PoetryCoalition. Here’s a look at what took place across the country in March.
The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers invited the 13,000 students from across the United States who submitted poetry to the 2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards to read “Flores Woman” by Tracy K. Smith over their school’s PA system on International Poetry Day, March 21. They also collaborated with artist and Scholastic Awards alum Karina Puente, who created an original, large-scale papel picado or cut paper work featuring “Flores Woman.” The art-making process was recorded via time-lapse and streamed online, along with a reading of the poem. In addition, alumni of the National Student Poets Program collaborated on a chapbook centered on Poetry & the Body. All students were invited to develop their own innovative efforts to broaden the reach of the collaborative and share them on Instagram, and students who participated received gift certificates from Blick Art Materials.
The Asian American Writers's Workshop celebrated the launch of Go Home! (Feminist Press, 2018)—an anthology that imagines immigrating and belonging in the twenty first century and features the work of poets Kimiko Hahn, Mohja Kahn, Wendy Xu, Wo Chan, Rajiv Mohabir, Jason Koo, Marilyn Chin, and more—on March 12 at the AAWW reading room in New York City, on March 13 at Greenlight Books in Brooklyn, on March 14 in Boston, on March 18 in San Francisco, and on March 20 in Los Angeles. On March 15, Sonia Guiñansaca and Kay Ulanday Barrett hosted the Mouth to Mouth Open Mic series for writers of color, migrant artists, and queer and trans people of color, with featured performers Eddie Maisonet and Santiago J. Sanchez. On March 29, it hosted “The Body & Migration” in New York City with Vi Khi Nao, Brandon Shimoda, Celina Su, and Dorothy Wang.
Beyond Baroque presented 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 addressed 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 focused on gender and embodiment.
On March 2, CantoMundo partnered with the editors of Puerto Rico en Mi Corazón (Anomalous Press, 2017) to present a #PoetsForPuertoRico reading at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in New York City. This event was held 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 featured 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 supported Taller Salud, a non-profit organization that provides health services to low income communities of color, women, and LGBTQ Puerto Ricans on the island.
On March 1, Cave Canem shared an exquisite corpse, a fully formed poem made of independently formed fragments, comprised of lines inspired by or in honor of the body written by Cave Canem faculty and fellows. The exquisite corpse debuted on cavecanempoets.org and was shared on Cave Canem's and other Poetry Coalition members' social media channels. Cave Canem also invited 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 hosted its first-ever open mic, inviting participants to read work on the theme of the body. The program closed with a reading of the Cave Canem exquisite corpse.
Kundiman celebrated Poetry & the Body with a Postcard Project during the month of March. Kundiman fellows sent and received postcards each day of the month and also invited responses on social media. On March 13, Kundiman hosted a free generative writing workshop to explore the theme of Poetry & the Body at the Asian American Arts Alliance in Brooklyn.
O, Miami collaborated with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center to produce a unique poetry engagement project with cancer patients. On March 3, poet Melanie Almeder led a two-hour workshop for the Sylvester community, which focused on reading and writing poems that “re-claim” the space of one’s body. Participants read poems about the body and responded with their own poems. On March 5, O, Miami presented a henna tattoo workshop featuring the workshop participants’ poems.
The Poetry Center, San Francisco State University presented a reading and conversation by Lily Hoang and Jackie Wang on March 1. On March 3, it hosted a reading and book party for Jackie Wang’s Carceral Capitalism, brand new in Semiotext(e)’s Interventions Series; she was joined by Lily Hoang, who read from her latest remarkable book, A Bestiary (Cleveland State University Poetry Center), at The Green Arcade in San Francisco.
Poetry Foundation cosponsored 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.
In collaboration with the International Center of Photography Museum (ICP), the Poetry Society of American presented “Japanese Internment: Public Memory and Cultural Production,” a two-part event that brought together artists, scholars, poets, and photographers who drew on the history of Japanese incarceration during World War II and its archival, material evidence in their innovative practices. The two-part event was held 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 hosted "Poetry & The Body," a reading on March 3, which featured six former Emerging Poets Fellows—Chia-Lun Chang, Alex Cuff, Rico Frederick, Ricardo Hernandez, Cynthia Manick, and Adeeba Talukder—who presented 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 was 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 presented and read from their new writings at the Poets House reading on March 3, which was followed by a discussion and Q&A.
The University of Arizona Poetry Center offered 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 read from her recent work on gender and identity on March 15. Burt’s reading was followed by a panel with Tucson Poet Laureate TC Tolbert in an extended conversation on trans poetry and poetics.
On March 15, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman and the 2018 National Youth Poet Laureate finalists participated in a reading and moderated discussion with Michael Cirelli, executive director of Urban Word, at the Library of Congress. The poets also shared original work inspired by the theme of Poetry and the Body. This event was cosponsored by the Library of Congress Young Readers Center.
Woodland Pattern Book Center hosted a free reading on March 17 featuring Nikki Wallschlaeger, Jay Besemer, and Jose-Luis Moctezuma, which was organized by Milwaukee Poet Laureate Roberto Harrison. Print pieces featuring work by the poets were available at the event courtesy of Oxeye Press.