So This Is Madness

Redefining Illness and Wellness

Our task is to leave behind the tropes of madness in order to redefine our experiences of illness and wellness. Together we will carve our own pulsing vernacular out of our most elusive experiences. In a space of non-judgment we’ll venture like astronauts into the inner cosmos. Guided by the poetry of Jeanann Verlee, Morgan Parker, Rachel McKibbens, Lauren Whitehead, Tarfia Faizullah and Lucille Clifton, we’ll use the tools of non-linearity, persona, unreliable narrator, interview and paradox to push against the norm of “what makes sense” and craft our own authentic, boundless narratives.

Title of the course drawn from writer Lauren Whitehead

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.