Craft Lab
I and Others: Selfhood, Identity and the Management of the Speaker

If you write poems, sooner or later you may run into an obstacle: what is the relationship between the “I” of your real life and the speaking “I” on the page? The blessing of the lyric subject is that it gives us great opportunities to explore ourselves, our personal expression, and how a voice can speak. But it can also lead to a number of challenges: Am I obligated to speak from my biographical experience? How are my poems read in relation to my social and cultural identity? And how do I sharpen the voice that speaks on the page?

In this craft lab, we’ll look at a number of lyric poems (by Carl Phillips, Ai, Louise Glück and Dorothea Lasky, among others) that help us consider the kinds of “I” that we present on the page and what our assumptions are about the relationship between our speakers and our real-world selves. Together we’ll explore prompts to find new ways of building voices, and we’ll develop tools that can help strengthen the speakers throughout our work.

All participants will have access to a cloud recording of the craft lab for one month afterward.

Craft Lab Details

Jay DeshpandeJay Deshpande is the author of Love the Stranger (YesYes Books, 2015), named one of the top debuts of 2015 by Poets & Writers, and the chapbooks The Rest of the Body (YesYes Books, 2017) and The Umbrian Sonnets (PANK Books, 2020). A 2018–20 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and the winner of the Scotti Merrill Memorial Award and Narrative‘s Annual Poetry Contest, he has also received fellowships from Kundiman, Civitella Ranieri, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. His poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, New Republic and New England Review, among many other places. He is an advisory editor for Northwest Review and writes criticism for Guernica, Pleiades, Kenyon Review and Boston Review. He holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and has taught workshops for Poets House, the Academy of American Poets and Columbia’s MFA program. Deshpande started teaching for Brooklyn Poets in 2017, quickly becoming one of our most popular teachers and selling out all fourteen of his workshops and mentorship courses since that time. He is our most sought-after mentor on the Bridge and the leader of our Mentorship Program.