“It hangs deep in his robes, a delicate / clapper at the center of a bell,” writes Sharon Olds about the Pope’s penis in her poem “The Pope’s Penis.” One of the elements to love about poetry lives within the questions “What are you risking?” and “What’s at stake?” Risk in a poem is exciting; it lights a flame within us that makes us grin impishly or leaves our mouths agape. But what does it mean to be audacious? What does it mean to push risk into a realm that is unholy, unwritten and unheard of? In this three-hour, generative online workshop, we’ll discuss and analyze poems by Justin Phillip Reed, Ladan Osman, Solmaz Sharif and Jorie Graham, among others, and we’ll write poems in response to prompts that encourage us to take risks. The goal of this workshop is to challenge our ways of thinking about risk and audacity in poems.
Luther Hughes is the author of the debut poetry collection A Shiver in the Leaves, forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2022, and the chapbook Touched (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2018). He is the founder of Shade Literary Arts, a literary organization for queer writers of color, and cohosts the Poet Salon podcast with Gabrielle Bates and Dujie Tahat. He is the recipient of a 2020 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and the 2020 92Y Discovery Poetry Prize. Hughes has mentored and taught at several universities and institutions, including Washington University in St. Louis, where he received his MFA in poetry. He was born and raised in the South End of Seattle, where he currently lives.