Poetry as Truth Serum

[Online Workshop]

“Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes,” declared Joseph Roux over a hundred years ago. There is something intoxicating and absolving about writing poetry—our lives, mistakes and narratives become clay in a sculptor’s hands, ready to be probed and refashioned. In this online workshop, students will be given weekly writing prompts to create poems that tell the truth—about life, love, grief, identity, etc.—and examine the truth-telling in the work of contemporary poets like Wendy Xu, Terrance Hayes, Sharon Olds, Matthea Harvey, Fady Joudah, Louise Glück, Solmaz Sharif and Danez Smith, among others. Weekly work will be done asynchronously on Wet Ink, and the professor will provide a video overview of the workshop at the beginning as well as brief video introductions to each week’s writing assignment.

Workshop Details


Hala Alyan is a Palestinian American writer and clinical psychologist. Her debut poetry collection, Atrium (Three Rooms Press, 2012), was awarded the 2013 Arab American Book Award in Poetry. Four Cities, her second collection, was published by Black Lawrence Press, and her most recent, Hijra, was selected as a winner of the 2015 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2016. Her debut novel, Salt Houses, was published to rave reviews by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017. She has been awarded a number of fellowships, including Lannan and Yaddo residencies, and she has led literary workshops in a variety of settings, including the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, and the Lemon Tree House Residency in Italy. She lives in Brooklyn.