New York, NY (February 28, 2023)—Now through July 2023, the Poetry Coalition, an alliance of nearly thirty independent poetry organizations across the United States, will launch “and so much lost you’d think / beauty had left a lesson: Poetry & Grief,” the coalition’s seventh annual programming initiative. For this collaborative effort, the organizations will offer a series of in-person and virtual programs that explore this year’s chosen theme.
Through their programming, which is made possible in part by grants from the Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation, Poetry Coalition members aim to demonstrate how poetry can invite and inspire conversations in their communities about grief—an expansive and rich topic that has become imbued with deeper meaning over the last few years.
All organizations and others interested are invited to create programs on this theme in 2023 and share their efforts using the hashtags #PoetryAndGrief and #PoetryCoalition. For more information, visit: https://poets.org/poetry-and-grief.
Here’s a look at some of the programs that will take place across the country this year:
The Academy of American Poets, a national organization, will publish five micro-essays by renowned poets on poems that helped them better understand or process grief. The essays and subject poems will be featured weekly in March, in the Academy newsletter, and on Poets.org.
In May, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and the National Student Poets Program in New York City will present a virtual reading and panel discussion on youth writing through loss, featuring the Class of 2022 National Student Poets (Jesse Begay, Southwest; Winslow Hastie Jr., Southeast; Emily Igwike, Midwest; Vidhatrie Keetha, Northeast; and Diane Sun, West) and the 2023 Scholastic Awards New York Life Scholarship recipients. New York Life Scholarships are awarded to students for works that focus on grief and healing. National Student Poets serve for one year as youth poetry ambassadors.
In July, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop is featuring a workshop with poet Kay Ulanday Barrett, titled “Mourning & Making: dedications to loving ghosts & the ancestors who became them.” This workshop will be free and will exclusively serve Black, Indigenous, APIDA, and Latine writers who are also sick, disabled, and immunocompromised. Kay will guide the workshop through witness poetry from global majority (BI&POC) writers and map lineages full of tension as well as celebration, loss, and love.
Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, California, will organize a reading and community gathering under the theme of Poetry & Grief. The event will take place in May and in collaboration with arts organizations based in Los Angeles.
CantoMundo, a national organization dedicated to supporting Latinx poets, will host an online generative poetry workshop conducted by Aracelis Girmay on the theme of Poetry & Grief that will be free and open to fellows from CantoMundo, Cave Canem, and Kundiman.
Indigenous Nations’ Poets (In-Na-Po) in Milwaukee will collaborate with the Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) to create a short poetic film. The film, to be shot on location in northern Wisconsin, will feature the work of In-Na-Poets.
Kundiman, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature, will present a free virtual workshop and host their annual Postcard Project. The workshop, “Writing Grief: Somatic Rituals for Revision,” led by poet and acupuncturist Rona Luo, will explore somatic exercises as preparation for revising and opening new possibilities for writing. This workshop welcomes both those working through grief and anyone interested in exploring embodied practices for revision. Throughout the month of March, Kundiman Fellows and the community will participate in their annual Postcard Project, which involves writing and mailing postcard poems and engaging with the theme of poetry and grief. Weekly photo recaps of the Postcard Project will be shared on their social media and website.
Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, is partnering with Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee to present an online workshop, facilitated by Alexandra Lytton Regalado, author of Relinquenda, winner of the National Poetry Series (Beacon Press, 2022). Titled “Living with Loss—In the House of Relinquenda,” the workshop will include a discussion of selected readings. Following the discussion, participants will be invited to respond to prompts for short writing exercises. Attendees will receive personalized feedback from the instructor as well as the opportunity to be in community with other writers. The session will take place on March 4 from 1:00 p.m. CT to 4:00 p.m. CT. For more information, visit: https://woodlandpattern.org/events/workshop-with-alexandra-lytton-regalado.
After COVID-19’s arrival in the Northeast, Mass Poetry in Boston put out a call for poems of witness, asking poets to pay attention to what was happening in the world during these unprecedented times—the horrible and the beautiful—and to make a record of it: the empty grocery store shelves, the conversations across balconies, the stadiums turned hospitals, midnight beach strolls, the sirens, the sirens, the sirens. Two hundred poets were willing to do exactly that, bearing witness to their loss, their grief, their survival, their hope. Mass Poetry will honor these poets and poems by hosting a community event during the Massachusetts Poetry Festival (May 5–7, 2023, at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts), where they will have an installation art piece, an interactive art activity, and hold space for collective grieving.
Miami-based organization O, Miami will host “Words in Bloom,” a therapeutic poetry and floral sculpture workshop for individuals personally impacted by gun violence in Miami. This workshop, an activation of their anthology More Than What Happened: The Aftermath of Gun Violence in Miami, edited by Nadege Green, is led by art therapist Deanna Barton, writer Darius Daughtry, and sculptor Amancio Paradela. Participants are guided through writing exercises and the creation of paper flower sculptures, which they use to create lasting memorials for loved ones. The lesson plan from the workshop is then adapted for use with common classroom materials and distributed free to two hundred and fifty Miami-Dade teachers.
On April 8, the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, in collaboration with Medicine for Nightmares Bookstore & Gallery, will co-present “Poetry & Grief,” a reading and conversation featuring Kyle Dacuyan and Mirene Arsanios. For more information, visit: https://poetry.sfsu.edu/event/poetry-and-grief-kyle-dacuyan-and-mirene-arsanios-medicine-for-nightmares.
The Poetry Foundation in Chicago will present “Poetry & Grief: Raquel Salas Rivera & Angel Dominguez,” a hybrid event, offered in-person and via livestream, on March 30 from 7:00 p.m. CT to 8:00 p.m. CT.
The Poetry Project in New York City is honored to welcome Maureen Owen and Susie Timmons for a reading on May 10. Maureen Owen’s newest book, Let the heart hold down the breakage or the caregiver’s log, begins “She moves as paper moves / her skin upon the air,” and follows the arc of Owen’s experience living with and caring for her mother at the end of her life. Fanny Howe writes of the text, “This magnificent work dwells in the struggle between death and dying.” Owen will be joined by Susie Timmons, another great poet of detail, connection, love, and remembering.
The Poetry Society of America in New York City will present a web feature with contemporary poets writing brief essays on elegies that have impacted their lives and writing. Featured poets will include Hanif Abdurraqib, Jos Charles, Brian Teare, and Kerri Webster.
Split This Rock will dedicate the organization’s Poem of the Week series in the month of March to the theme of Poetry & Grief. Throughout the season, Split This Rock will also share a series of pre-recorded poetry workshop capsules—short videos that will provide a workshop experience that viewers can do at their own pace—and a special collection of poetry playlists in dialogue with the theme. To close out the season, the organization will be hosting a virtual round-table discussion event with a moderator and featured poets in conversation about Poetry & Grief in May.
Urban Word, founder of the National Youth Poet Laureate Program, will invite National Youth Poet Laureate finalists to compose and submit poems engaging the theme of Poetry & Grief, and present them at the National Youth Poet Laureate Commencement on Friday, April 28, at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Maui, Hawaii. The event will be live streamed nationally at www.youthlaureate.org.
Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University collaborated with the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University to present four events from February 21–23, featuring renowned poet and theologian, Pádraig Ó Tuama, on the theme of Poetry & Grief. Ó Tuama presented two workshops, one on writing “the ordinary” and one on “poetry for troubled times.” In addition to exploring themes of grief and loss, he guided participants in ways poetry can address contemporary dynamics of conflict, polarization, history, and change. Ó Tuama gave a reading at Kent State and visited classes with poet Philip Metres at John Carroll University.
On May 12, Youth Speaks in San Francisco will present an Under 21 Open Mic focused on poetry and grief. They will be making sacred space to come together and process the incredible loss felt over the last few years, as well as exploring ways we can use our voices to help heal ourselves and each other. This event will showcase the work of the After School Writing Workshops’ spring cohort, featured artists, and make room for anyone age twenty-one and under to take the mic and share in response to the theme as well. Teenagers interested in joining Youth Speaks’ online and hybrid programs, and adults looking to offer support, can find more information at youthspeaks.org.
Zoeglossia, a national literary organization seeking to pioneer a new, inclusive space for poets with disabilities, will center their fellows’ work, as so many in the disability community
have experienced grief and loss during the pandemic. Zoeglossia will host a series of generative workshops with their fellows featuring prompts inspired by ideas of grief and loss, provide follow-up support for fellows to refine these poems, create a folio of their work, and share on social media the poems created through this process throughout the month of March.
About the Academy of American Poets
Founded in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters in all fifty states and beyond. The organization annually awards $1.3+ million to more than two hundred poets at various stages of their careers through its prize and fellowship programs. The organization also produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; established and organizes National Poetry Month each April; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides free resources to K–12 educators, including the award-winning weekly Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings, and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition that promotes the value poets bring to our culture. To learn more about the Academy of American Poets, including its staff, its Board of Directors, and its Board of Chancellors, visit: https://poets.org/.
About the Poetry Coalition
The Poetry Coalition is a national alliance of more than 25 organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Members are nonprofit organizations whose primary mission is to promote poets and poetry, and/or multi-genre literary organizations that serve poets in the disability community and of specific racial, ethnic, or gender identities, backgrounds, or communities. All members present poets at live and virtual events. Each year, members present programming across the country on a theme of social importance. The Poetry Coalition is coordinated by the Academy of American Poets and is grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its support of this work.