The poem of complaint is a powerful, long-standing rhetorical form, traditionally arising out of unrequited love or as an attack on social injustice, hypocrisy or human vanity. It’s found new life in the work of contemporary poets such as Grace Paley, Claudia Rankine, Tommy Pico, Marwa Helal and Brenda Shaughnessy, to cite only a few, and we’ll read and discuss their complaints as a pathway to generating and molding some of our own. From bad boyfriends to our own bodies, the horrors of war and injustice to humorous laments on the passing of time—even how hard it is to write poetry—we will poetically complain together.
Julie Hart, named Brooklyn Poets’ Yawper of the Year in 2015, has had her work published in various journals, most recently in Juniper, Rogue Agent and Noble/Gas Qtrly, and in the Brooklyn Poets Anthology. She holds an MPhil in history from NYU and taught English as a second language for fifteen years. In 2014, she cofounded Sweet Action Poetry Collective with Mirielle Clifford, and with the help of Emily Blair it has become a vibrant community of poets, featuring bimonthly workshops, annual readings and publications to promote the group’s work. She lives in Brooklyn Heights with her husband and son.