Poetry and Memoir

Whose Story Am I Telling?

In this online workshop, we’ll explore questions that both challenge and inspire us as we blend poetry and memoir in writing about our pasts. Whose story are we telling? How important is it that our poems be historically accurate? What family secrets are waiting to be written? Is this our story to tell? Why should we give ourselves permission to write our painful pasts into our poems? We’ll use journals, photographs, personal objects of significance, memorabilia and oral histories to enter our poems. We’ll explore various poetic forms, including persona and narrative poems and ghazals. Authors whose work we’ll read and discuss include Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Cheryl Clarke, Jericho Brown, R. Erica Doyle, Monica Hand, Mahogany L. Browne, Danez Smith, Angel Nafis and Sharon Olds. Weekly work for the course will be done asynchronously on Wet Ink, and the professor will provide video introductions to material and a one-on-one Facetime conference with each student.

Workshop Details


JP Howard is the author of SAY/MIRROR (The Operating System, 2016), a 2016 Lambda Literary finalist, and the chaplet bury your love poems here (Belladonna*, 2015). She has received a Lambda Emerging Writer Award and was a finalist for the 2017 Split This Rock Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism and is featured in the 2017 Lesbian Poet Trading Card Series (Headmistress Press). The winner of fellowships from Cave Canem, VONA and Lambda, she curates the Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon and has facilitated numerous writing workshops for Apogee, the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, City College and others. Howards holds a BA in English from Barnard College, a JD from Brooklyn Law School and an MFA in creative writing from City College.