Letters to the World

Epistolary Poems

“This is my letter to the world, / That never wrote to me,” begins a signature Emily Dickinson poem. One way of looking at a poem is as a letter to the world—a means to communicate what one must say. Most of the time, we submerge the thou of the poem—to make the poem more universal, to allow it to speak to “everyone.” But what about the epistolary poem? What does it mean to write a poem specifically to someone, to God, to the world? In this workshop, we will read, write and discuss epistolary poems, looking at such poems by writers including Dickinson, Thomas James, Lucie Brock-Broido, Idra Novey, Frank Stanford, Brenda Shaughnessy, Quinn Latimer and more.

Workshop Details


Cynthia Cruz’s first collection, Ruin, was published by Alice James Books in 2006. Her second collection, The Glimmering Room, was published in 2012 and her third collection, Wunderkammer, in 2014 by Four Way Books. Her poems have been published in the New Yorker, Paris Review, Kenyon Review, Boston Review and many other journals, and her essays, art and book reviews have been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Rumpus and Hyperallergic. She has taught at many colleges and universities, including the New School, Julliard, Queens College and the Rutgers-Newark MFA Program, as well as with Teachers & Writers Collaborative. She is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony and a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. She currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and is an art editor at Guernica magazine.