The Risk of Joy: Where Grief and Gratitude Meet

“What if we joined our sorrows, I’m saying. I’m saying: what if that is joy?” —Ross Gay

Where is the true meeting place between grief and gratitude, and what risks do we take—on and off the page—in order to find it? When we consider risk, we often solely consider the risks of grief—failure, loss, embarrassment, pain—but we rarely consider the risk of joy. In this six-week workshop, we’ll navigate the synchronous orbit that both our grief and our gratitude follow, using grievance and gratitude journals, free-associative writing prompts, found text, image journals and other exercises that incite joy and harvest hope from our hardships. We’ll write poems that dismantle concepts about these forces as antithetical and instead discover how they not only coexist, but cannot exist without each other. We’ll read and discuss poems by Gwendolyn Brooks, Kim Addonizio, Lucille Clifton, Donika Kelly, Aria Aber, Dorianne Laux, Frank O’Hara, Megan Fernandes, Ada Limón and Ross Gay, among others, and we’ll use essays by Gay, Zadie Smith, Audre Lorde and others as a foundation for our own investigations into our grief—and where joy exists within it. Note: sharing journals will be required in this workshop.

Workshop Details


  • Teacher: Anthony Thomas Lombardi
  • Level: II
  • Dates: Mar 28–May 2, 2023
  • Time: Tuesdays, 6:30–9:30 pm (ET)
  • Location: 144 Montague St, Brooklyn
  • Cost: $445
  • Class size: 5–10 students
  • Registration deadline: FRI, MAR 24, 2023
  • Earlybird discount: $15 off through SUN, FEB 12
Anthony Thomas Lombardi

Anthony Thomas Lombardi

Anthony Thomas Lombardi is a Best of the Net– and Pushcart-nominated poet, editor, organizer and educator. He is the founder and director of Word is Bond, a community-centered reading series partnered with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop that raises funds for transnational relief efforts, bail funds and mutual aid organizations, and he serves as a poetry editor for Sundog Lit. A recipient of the Poetry Project’s Emerge-Surface-Be Fellowship, he has taught at Borough of Manhattan Community College, Paris College of Art, Brooklyn Poets, Polyphony Lit’s Summer Editorial Apprenticeship Program and for community programming throughout New York City. His work has appeared or will soon in the Poetry Foundation’s Ours Poetica, Guernica, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, North American Review and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and their two cats.