Thank You for Your Willingness to Say It

Poetry After Violence [Online Workshop]

In his poem “In the loop,” Bob Hicok writes after the shootings at Virginia Tech, where he teaches,

     People wrote, called, mostly e-mailed
     to say, there’s nothing to say. Eventually
     I answered these messages: there’s nothing
     to say back except of course there’s nothing
     to say, thank you for your willingness to say it.

This online workshop will look at the work of Hicok and other contemporary poets in the wake of violence—from Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, a hybrid work about mourning and injustice mediated by television, to Maggie Nelson’s Jane, a book of “true crime” verse, to Guns and Butter, a collection of concrete poems about love and danger by Montana Ray. For poets who are willing to say something, but may be unsure how to say it, this workshop will offer weekly writing prompts via Wet Ink to generate new work and receive feedback. We’ll experiment with form and point of view, writing as victims, survivors, perpetrators, bystanders, descendants and/or witnesses of violence. Students will receive weekly feedback from the instructor and other students on their work in the class. [Content note: because of the subject of this workshop, prospective students are advised that the course will include texts about police brutality, violence against women, sexual assault and gun violence.]

Workshop Details


Working at the intersection of literature and activism, Leigh Stein is the author of three books and the cofounder and executive director of Out of the Binders, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to advancing the careers of women and gender nonconforming writers. Her début novel The Fallback Plan made the “highbrow brilliant” quadrant of New York Magazine‘s Approval Matrix, and her poetry collection Dispatch from the Future was selected for Publishers Weekly’s Best Summer Books of 2012 list and the Rumpus Poetry Book Club. Land of Enchantment, her memoir about young love, obsession, abuse and loss, is just out from Plume. For her advocacy work, she has been called a “leading feminist” by the Washington Post and was honored as a “woman of influence” by New York Business Journal.