Looking for the I

Identity as Performance and Generative Practice

Who are we when we come to the page? How do our poems acknowledge or disacknowledge the labels that define us in daily life? This generative workshop will explore the question of identity, seeking to look deeper into the concept of “identity poetry.” Reading a range of contemporary poets including Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Jenny Johnson, Charif Shanahan, Timothy Donnelly, Sharon Olds, Evie Shockley, Jillian Weise, Terrance Hayes, Jameson Fitzpatrick and Marina Blitshteyn, alongside essays by Jaswinder Bolina, Hafizah Geter and Carl Phillips, we will make an inquiry into what parts of ourselves we bring to our poems and how we expect to be read—in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, ability and more. Workshop discussions will be particularly focused on supporting one another as we challenge ourselves to write into and outside of the more familiar parts of who we think we are.

Workshop Details


Jay Deshpande is the author of Love the Stranger (YesYes Books, 2015), named one of the top debuts of 2015 by Poets & Writers, and the chapbook The Rest of the Body (YesYes Books, 2017). A winner of the Scotti Merrill Memorial Award and Narrative‘s Annual Poetry Contest, he has received fellowships from Kundiman, Civitella Ranieri and the Key West Literary Seminar. His poems have recently appeared in Denver Quarterly, Washington Square, LARB Quarterly Journal and Horsethief. He holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. He has taught for Poets House, the Academy of American Poets, and Rutgers, and currently teaches in the MFA program at Columbia.