Hungry Ghosts

The Poetry of Addiction [Online Workshop]

In Chinese Buddhism, the concept of the “hungry ghost” refers to beings that are driven by singular and animalistic needs, afflicted with intense emotionality and relentless cravings. More recently, the term has been adopted in the field of addiction work. There is a long history of poets documenting the pursuit of such hungers and desire, whether through substance abuse, obsessive love or other manifestations of haunted longing. This online workshop will unpack the canon of addiction poetry over the past century (including work by Frank Bidart, Karyna McGlynn, Dylan Thomas, sam sax, Cynthia Cruz, Theodore Roethke, Natalie Diaz, Mina Loy, Anne Sexton, Kaveh Akbar and Amy Lowell), and the weekly prompts will encourage participants to create work around themes of longing, excess, wreckage and deprivation. The professor will provide a video introduction to the course as well as brief video introductions for each writing prompt, and weekly work will be done asynchronously on Wet Ink.

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.