Lyric Forces vs. Market Forces: Poetry & Capitalism

But my user-friendly
righteousness, my Gross
Domestic Amnesia.
In place of the old wants …
we find new wants.

—Kyle Dargan

Capitalism is the predominant economic system in the world today, but it is also a set of values, a lexicon, an entanglement, a ghost story, an infrastructure, an atomization, a compulsion, a labyrinth, a hierarchy, a loneliness, a convolution and—most viscerally—an everyday experience for all of us. There is nothing it won’t—through its actors—touch, deploy, transmute, ventriloquize, absorb or expunge in the pursuance of, yes, capital. At least as far back as Dante, poets have reckoned with mercantilism and its echoes, even as it is hard to distinguish oneself, one’s desires, and the meaning of one’s life from it. In this six-week online workshop, we’ll try to disentangle our language and imaginations from the pervasive terms of economy while representing and responding poetically to the conditions of capitalism in which we find ourselves: what it is and feels like to live in such acquisitive times. We’ll also try to uncover where wonder and idiosyncrasy now reside and conjure alternative landscapes and futures. Readings will include poems by Adrienne Rich, Gwendolyn Brooks, Philip Levine, C.D. Wright, Claudia Rankine, Ariana Reines, Tracy K. Smith, Daniel Borzutsky and more. Each week we’ll workshop one another’s poems, offering attentive, considered feedback, in addition to reading and discussing poems and doing pre-writing exercises relevant to each prompt. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Sunday, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.

Workshop Details


  • Teacher: dawn lonsinger
  • Level: II
  • Dates: Jul 10–Aug 14, 2022
  • Time: Sundays, 10:30 am–1:30 pm (ET)
  • Location: online via Zoom
  • Cost: $445
  • Class size: 5–10 students
  • Registration deadline: SUN, JUL 3, 2022
  • Earlybird discount: $15 off through SUN, JUNE 19
dawn lonsinger

dawn lonsinger

dawn lonsinger is the author of Whelm— winner of the Idaho Prize in Poetry, Cornell’s Freund Prize, and a Shelf Unbound Notable Book of the Year. Her poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Guernica, Los Angeles Review and elsewhere. Lyric essays have appeared in Black Warrior Review and Western Humanities Review. She is the recipient of the Corson Bishop Prize, Smartish Pace’s Beullah Rose Prize, a Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship to South Korea. She has also won the Scowcroft Prize, an Academy of American Poets Prize, three Utah Arts Council Writing Awards and four Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes. lonsinger holds a BA in studio art and English as well as an MA in literature from Bucknell University, an MFA in poetry from Cornell University and a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Utah. She is an associate professor of literature and creative writing at Muhlenberg College, where she was recently awarded the the Paul C. Empie ’29 Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching.