The Fictive Poem

How can we use fiction to tell the truth? So many poets “tell it slant,” as Emily Dickinson urges, by writing what is essentially microfiction—poems which exist as small bolts of unreality, so as to better reveal reality. Using the work of Sharon Olds, Fatimah Asghar, Patricia Smith, James Tate, Ocean Vuong and others, we’ll learn tools and tactics for telling the truth with a wider imagination. We’ll experiment with persona, alternate endings to true events, imagining personal histories we weren’t present for, and inventing airtight worlds and characters to speak for us.

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.