Self, Nature, City

“All poetry is collaboration,” writes Matthew Rohrer; Allen Grossman writes, “The person who speaks in lyric is always alone.” Poems are simultaneously social and solitary, external and internal. This is especially visible when poets engage directly with their surroundings, whether natural, urban, or both. In this seven-week workshop, we’ll wander, contemplate and imagine—while together and alone—in public parks, forests, deserts, mountains, oceans, wetlands, city streets, aquariums, suburban nature preserves, lands under restoration, regions burned by wildfires, and more, through live online cams and in person via 3–4 outdoor sessions in Prospect Park. We’ll read poets who engage with nature and city-based environments through their lyric ‘I’: Joanne Kyger, Du Fu, Joy Harjo, Larry Eigner, Evie Shockley, Frank O’Hara, Dg Nanouk Okpik, Patricia Killelea, Geoffrey Nutter and more. Along the way, we’ll question the boundaries of nature and city and consider what it means to write in collaboration with nature as non-human species populations decline in this climate emergency. At the same time, we’ll honor the persistent motivation of the poet to speak into and out of everything, no matter what the time period or current conditions may be. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Saturday, save for in-person sessions in Prospect Park for local students (remote students can Zoom in for these sessions). Assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink. [Note: as this workshop intends to meet partially in person, all local participants must show proof of vaccination before the first session.]

Workshop Details

Emily Wallis Hughes
Emily Wallis Hughes grew up in Agua Caliente, California, a small town in the Sonoma Valley. Sugar Factory, her first book of poems, which includes a series of twelve paintings by Sarah Riggs in conversation with Emily’s poems, was published by Spuyten Duyvil in 2019 and a finalist for the Fence Modern Poets Series and the Tupelo Press Dorset Prize. Her poems have been published in Berkeley Poetry Review, Luna Luna, Painted Bride Quarterly, Prelude and many other venues. She coedited Jure Detela’s Moss & Silver, translated by Raymond Miller with Tatjana Jamnik (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018), which was a finalist for Three Percent’s 2019 Best Translated Book Award. She holds an MFA in poetry from New York University, where she was a Writers in the Public Schools Fellow, and an MA in creative writing and English literature from the University of California–Davis. Emily is an editor at Fence, where she edits Elecment, coedits the Constant Critic and directs the distribution of Fence. She has taught creative writing at New York University and the University of California–Davis as well as California community colleges and New York City public elementary schools. She currently teaches creative writing as an adjunct instructor at Rutgers–New Brunswick in New Jersey and lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. This summer she became certified as a NOLS Wilderness First Responder.