Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live

Poetry & the Body

In March 2018, the Poetry Coalition launched Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body, its second annual programming initiative. For this collaborative effort, each organization in the Poetry Coalition brought its unique mission to the task of presenting programs and projects on the theme of the body. Programs included a range of events and publications that addressed issues including mass incarceration, transphobia, violence against people of color, and health and self-care.

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. 

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. 

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Academy of American Poets

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. 

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Alliance for Young Artists & Writers

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.

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Asian American Writers' Workshop

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.

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Beyond Baroque

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.

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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.

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Cave Canem Foundation

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. 

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Dodge Poetry Festival

The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program in Morristown, New Jersey, launched the Whose Body? Project. Throughout the month of March, Dodge Poetry featured eight video posts of poets sharing their own and/or others' poetry to approach the question: Whose Body? The videos were shared online. They invited their followers on social media to respond and use the hashtag #WhoseBody. On March 15th, Dodge Poetry social media accounts were taken over by the #WhoseBody hashtag. Dodge Poetry Staff and friends shared posts celebrating and praising the body. It also hosted the Whose Body? Celebration and Reclamation event on March 24 in Princeton, New Jersey, featuring a diverse group of poets in a day of performances, readings, conversations and writing activities approaching the question from many points of view. Teachers earned Professional Development Hours for attending.


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.

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Lambda Literary

Lambda Literary featured on its website one essay a week by a LGBTQ poet on the theme of Poetry & the Body. Lambda Literary also featured poems by LGBTQ poets centered on the theme. It celebrated the soft launch of Nepantla, an anthology composed of 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

Letras Latinas at the University of Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies commissioned award-winning poet Javier Zamora to compose new poems that engage with the theme of Poetry & the Body. Zamora unveiled his work 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 also visited and engaged with students at a bilingual elementary school in Columbia Heights. 
Throughout March, Letras Latinas partnered with Emma Trelles of The Best American Poetry blog to present work on the theme by ten poets who identify as women, half of them from the Latinx community.

Mass Poetry

Mass Poetry hosted a special reading on the theme of Poetry & the Body for Massachusetts poets under thirty-five years old. It also held a contest inspired by the same theme; excerpts from the winning poems were displayed on the streets of Salem for 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 placed poems throughout the streets of Salem. The spray vanished once dry, so the poems were invisible—until it rained. Once wet, the area around the poems darkened, enabling passersby to read them.
An excerpt from Tracy K. Smith’s poem “Flores Woman” also appeared on Boston’s subways throughout the month as part of Mass Poetry’s Poetry on the T program.

O, Miami

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.

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The Poetry Center, San Francisco State University

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. 

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Poetry Foundation

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. 

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Poetry Society of America

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.

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Poets House

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.

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Split This Rock

Split This Rock presented a week-long series of events on the theme of Poetry & the Body, 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, was featured at both youth and adult programs, culminating at a special Sunday Kind of Love program at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC, on March 18, along with Lauren May, an alumna of Split This Rock’s DC Youth Slam Team and a teaching artist with the organization. Poet-activists shared reflections on ten years of putting their bodies and their poems to work for change. The week also featured 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.

University of Arizona Poetry Center - Tucson

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.

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Urban Word

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.

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Wick Poetry Center

The Wick Poetry Center focused on events and outreach that addressed 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 also presented Writing the Body, a workshop dedicated for the Women’s Center’s Feminist Friday event. Participants used 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 was designed as a Traveling Stanzas poster and postcard.

Woodland Pattern

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.

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