Won’t You Celebrate with Me?

Celebration seems simple enough: cake on your birthday, streamers. It’s joy, right? But often, celebration can contain grief, even violence. Lucille Clifton writes that it is reason for celebration that “everyday / something has tried to kill me / and has failed.” Funerals celebrate a life, while also mourning. The festivities of soccer fans can turn a city inside out. Is celebration always about honoring capital Landmark Moments, or can it be simpler, lower case, available to us in the quiet, private act of noticing? In this workshop we’ll write poems of nuanced (and often subversive) celebration, utilizing perspective, witness and, yes, good old-fashioned gratitude. As a part of our exploration, we’ll write litanies, turn the ode inside out, zoom in on ordinary moments and blur the line between writing and meditation. To help us on our journey we’ll read texts by Wislawa Szymborska, Li-Young Lee, Ross Gay, Dorianne Laux, Morgan Parker and others.

Workshop Details


Shira Erlichman​ is a poet, musician and visual artist. Her first full-length collection of poems, Odes to Lithium, is forthcoming from Alice James Books, and her first children’s book, Be/Hold, from Penny Candy Books, both in 2019. Her poetry can be found in Huffington Post, PBS NewsHour’s Poetry Series, BuzzFeed Reader and the Baffler. As a musician she’s shared stages with TuNe-YaRdS, Mirah, and CocoRosie. Her experimental electronic-pop album Subtle Creature was released in the fall of 2016. For her work she was awarded a residency by the Millay Colony, the James Merrill Fellowship by the Vermont Studio Center, and the Visions of Wellbeing Focus Fellowship by AIR Serenbe. She has taught for Urban Word NYC, the Volume Summer Institute and York College–CUNY, and she has been teaching online poetry classes via her company Freer Form for the last seven years. She lives in Brooklyn.