Though poetry doesn’t require plot to shape it, as writers we’re naturally drawn to others’ compelling stories. What, then, can we learn from engaging deeply with the lived experiences of others? This class will explore how the particular dynamics and constraints of poetry can be used to provide a lens not only on the life of and times of those we’re uncovering, but can provide clarity to our own experiences as well. We’ll discuss our responsibilities to both truth and Truth, looking at work by such writers as Marilyn Nelson, Tyehimba Jess, Van Jordan, and Natasha Trethewey to examine how verse and research can intersect and inform each other.
Erin Adair-Hodges is the author of Let’s All Die Happy, winner of the 2016 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and published in 2017 as part of the Pitt Poetry Series. A Bread Loaf-Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholar in Poetry, Sewanee-Claudia Emerson scholar, and winner of the 2014 Loraine Williams Prize from The Georgia Review, her work can be seen in journals such Kenyon Review, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner and more. An educator at all levels for nearly twenty years, she is currently a visiting professor of creative writing at the University of Central Missouri and is the poetry editor at Pleiades.