SPRiNG 2023


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The WCU Poetry Center's Poetry and Creative Arts Festival
Will’s Survival: Shakespeare’s Legacy  
June 9-11, 2023
Mark Jarman - Keynote Speaker and Master Class

The West Chester University Poetry Center is excited to announce C.R.A.F.T.: West Chester University’s Poetry and Creative Arts Festival, June 9-11, 2023. The theme for our in-person gathering is Will’s Survival: Shakespeare’s Legacy. Professor Emeritus Mark Jarman will be our Keynote Speaker. We will feature a musical performance by JD Debris, winner of the 2022 Donald Justice Prize for The Scorpion’s Question Mark, forthcoming from Autumn House Press.

In Spring 2023, WCU will be celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio. C.R.A.F.T: WCU’s Poetry and Creative Arts Festival, Will’s Survival, gives our community the opportunity to consider Shakespeare’s influence in contemporary poetry.  We will explore Shakespeare’s legacy in relation to received form, verse drama, and meter, as we consider the following questions: how have contemporary poets, musicians, visual and performing artists engaged with Shakespeare’s oeuvre? Can we trace any connection between Shakespeare and contemporary verse drama or novels in verse? How have women, writers of color, and post-colonial artists critically engaged with Shakespeare’s legacy?

Working with a shared respect and understanding of craft, The Poetry and Creative Arts Festival gives poets and critics, musicians, as well as visual and performing artists opportunities to forge connections across disciplines, to delve into innovative approaches to artmaking, to engage new media and technology, to reconsider the power of revision, and to sharpen their critical lenses. 

Keynote Speaker Mark Jarman
Master Class - The Sonnet as Lyric Paradigm and Organic Form


The sonnet was originally assembled from its lyric parts, from couplets and tercets and quatrains, all outfitted with appropriate rhyme schemes, into a lyric hybrid.  Looking into the sonnet’s fourteen-line form is not unlike looking at the diagram of a cell and recognizing that it too is a synthesis of other organic forms, the mitochondria of metrical feet, specifically the iamb in English, thematic organelles, capsules of emotional dna, zygomatic tear drops.  Once the sonnet came into being, possibly in 14th century Italy, and sent on its way to northern Europe to find a home in England and flourish there, it became a moot point to speculate which came first.  The sonnet as Petrarch and Shakespeare perfected it has come to be the paradigm, the living pattern, of the lyric poem.  We will talk about how this is so and even how it may only be the illusion of artifice.  But from Shakespeare to Gwendolyn Brooks the form has bred, reproduced, and been a vital link for centuries.  Artifice, indeed, but also organism.  Please bring a favorite sonnet to share with the class.

Mark Jarman is the author of 12 books of poetry: North Sea (Cleveland State University Poetry Center); The Rote Walker and Far and Away (Carnegie Mellon University Press); The Black Riviera (Wesleyan University Press); Questions for Ecclesiastes, Unholy Sonnets, and the book-length narrative poem Iris (Story Line Press); To the Green Man, Epistles, Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems, The Heronry (Sarabande Books) and Zeno’s Eternity (Paul Dry Books). He has published three books of essays and reviews: The Secret of Poetry (Story Line Press), Body and Soul: Essays on Poetry (University of Michigan Press, Poets on Poetry Series), and Dailiness: Essays on Poetry (Paul Dry Books).  With Robert McDowell, he co-authored The Reaper Essays (Story Line Press), a collection of essays they wrote for their magazine The Reaper during the 1980s. He co-edited Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism (Story Line Press) with David Mason. His awards and honors include a Joseph Henry Jackson Literary Award, the Poets’ Prize, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Balcones Poetry Prize, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry, and a Chancellor’s Research Award from Vanderbilt University where he is Centennial Professor of English, Emeritus.

Musical Performance by JD Debris, winner of the 2022 Donald Justice Poetry Prize

JD Debris writes poems, songs, and prose. He was a Goldwater Fellow at New York University, where he completed his MFA. His work has been chosen for Ploughshares' Emerging Writers Prize, and he has twice been named to Narrative's 30 Below 30 list. His releases include the chapbook SPARRING (Salem State University Press, 2018) and the music albums BLACK MARKET ORGANS (Simple Truth Records, 2017) and JD DEBRIS MURDER CLUB (2022). He is the 2022 winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize for his book The Scorpion's Question Mark.

JD Debris

Ned Balbo
Encounters with Art: Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop

Ned BalboFrom Homer’s verse on Achilles’ shield to Frank O’Hara’s meditations on the canvases of his painter friends to Tracy K. Smith’s elegies for her father that draw on science fiction film or the music of David Bowie, poets have found inspiration in other art forms. Our workshop will look at a range of poems inspired by visual art and other media to see how they open doors for our own work. How can an image spark a complete narrative? How can we use dramatic monologue or some other approach to adapt characters in ways that reflect ideas of our own? What techniques can we use to go beyond description of another’s world to create a compelling vision all our own? We’ll zoom in on key strategies you can use and try out some prompts to generate new directions for your work. You’ll have the chance, too, share poems and receive individual feedback from the instructor.

Ned Balbo’s newest books are The Cylburn Touch-Me-Nots (New Criterion Poetry Prize) and 3 Nights of the Perseids (Richard Wilbur Award) whose title poem appears in the 2022 Cambridge University Press anthology Outer Space: 100 Poems. His previous books are Upcycling Paumanok, Lives of the Sleepers (Ernest Sandeen Prize and ForeWord Book of the Year gold medal), Galileo’s Banquet (Towson University Prize) and The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems (Poets’ Prize and the Donald Justice Prize). He has received a National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowship and four Maryland State Arts Council poetry awards. In 2022 his poem “The Wolves of Chernobyl” was second-prize co-winner in the international Keats-Shelley Memorial Association awards. New poems are out or forthcoming in Birmingham Poetry Review, The Common, Literary Matters, Shenandoah, Smartish Pace, and elsewhere. He is married to poet Jane Satterfield. For more, visit https://nedbalbo.com.

Al Basile
Verse Drama

Al Basile

With experience in writing, directing, and producing audio drama in verse for the last four years., Basile will present in clear comparative terms the connection between the language and technical approach of Shakespeare’s verse plays and my own by using blank verse in a way that combines formal adherence to the meter with the use of modern conversational English tone and diction. This allows a focus on what the meter lends to the expression for the actors and audience; unlike in Shakespeare, where the language is 400 years old and unfamiliar to us, Basile's music sounds like people talking in familiar ways – the meter is embedded but not openly displayed in the acting.

Photo Credit: Meghan Sepe

Teri Ellen Cross Davis
But a Dream: Poetry Workshop

Cross Davis

Taking cues from the Folger Theater’s 2022 summer production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” we dive into the creative world of dreams with poetry as a guide. This generative poetry workshop will include close readings of poems by Lucille Clifton, Aracelis Girmay, Langston Hughes, and more. With images from the Folger production as inspiration and close readings of dream poems by a variety of poets, this workshop will offer prompts in addition to poetic examples of style, form, and tone. By using the language of a dreams, we seek to mine our subconscious terrain for the ink to write a new magical world on to the page. We will use dreams as another way to access subjects and styles perhaps consciously resisted while writing or revising. 

Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of Haint (Gival Press, 2016), winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is a Cave Canem fellow and a member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. She has received fellowships to attend the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, Squaw Valley Community of Writers Workshop and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She is the recipient of a Meret grant from the Freya Project and a 2019 Sustainable Arts Grant. Her work can be read online and in many journals, including: Academy of American Poets, Auburn Avenue, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Gargoyle, Harvard Review, Kestrel, Little Patuxent Review, Natural Bridge, North American Review, MiPOesias, Mom Egg Review, Pacifica Literary Review, Poet Lore, Poetry Ireland Review, and Tin House. She is the Poetry Coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. and lives in Maryland with her husband, poet Hayes Davis, and their two children.

Natalie Gerber
Elevating the Language of the People, from Shakespeare to Miranda

natalieIf you've ever fallen under the spell of Hamilton!: The Musical, then here's your shot to really explore the genius of the lyrics. With an eye to rhyme practice, we'll learn just enough about the history of rhyme and its changing practice in poetry, rap, and musical theater to explore how Hamilton! creates character through the differentiated rhyme repertoires of its historical figures. Participants in this mini-course can choose a character to explore and help us work through how that person's rhyme practice characterizes their politics, intelligence, and agendas. From the shifting power dynamics between Hamilton and Burr to the friendly rivalry between Eliza and Angelica to the rap battle between Jefferson and Hamilton to the multilingual rhymes of Lafayette, the spare rhyming practice of Washington, to the heartbreaking, almost rhymeless scene in which Philip dies, you'll help us pinpoint and really understand what Stephen Sondheim meant when he said, "Rhyme does something to the listener’s perception that is very important, and Lin-Manuel recognizes that, which gives the ‘‘Hamilton’’ score a great deal more heft than it might otherwise have."

Natalie Gerber is professor of English and director of the Honors Program at the State University of New York at Fredonia. In addition to publishing essays on rhythm, intonation, and rhyme in relation to the history and structure of the English language, most recently in Critical Rhythm (ed. Benjamin Glaser and Jonathan Culler, Fordham UP, 2019) and On Rhyme (ed. David Caplan, U of Lieges P, 2017), she has worked with a range of scholars to collaboratively curate or convene multidisciplinary conversations on these topics, including Intonation (Thinking Verse), with David Nowell Smith; Prosody: Alternative Histories, with Eric Weiskott (Stanford’s Arcades Project), and, with Peter Elbow, a five-day symposium at UMass Amherst, “Rhythm and Intonation on the Page.” Most recently, she served as guest editor for the 2018 and 2019 Robert Frost Review and as an associate editor of the Wallace Stevens Journal. At SUNY Fredonia, she directs the Honors Program and collaboratively organizes Writers@Work: An Alumni Writers-in-Residence series, which promotes professional writing in all fields and disciplines. She teaches courses in professional writing, editing, grammar and style, as well as poetry, and lives in Western New York.

Anna Maria Hong
21st Century Sonnets

annamariahongOne of the most enduring forms in global literature, the sonnet has been practiced by most poets writing in English through the present day. In this workshop, we will focus on the Shakespearean embodiment of the sonnet and how contemporary poets, particularly women, nonbinary, LGBTQ, and BIPOC writers have harnessed these 14 lines to their own purposes. Reading sonnets by Marilyn Nelson, Terrance Hayes, Patricia Smith, Philip Metres, Diane Seuss, Jen Bervin, Craig Santos Perez, and others, we will discuss how the sonnet can be employed as a vehicle for resistance, wordplay, and transformation and the ways in which contemporary poets have adapted and reshaped the form, while speaking to tradition. Participants will acquire in-depth knowledge of the Shakespearean sonnet’s dynamic possibilities and how invoking this form can propel us to create vibrant, innovative works of our own. A packet of readings will be provided. Recommended book: The American Sonnet: An Anthology of Poems and Essays (University of Iowa Press), edited by Dora Malech and Laura T. Smith.

Anna Maria Hong is the author of three recent books: Age of Glass, winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award and the Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s First Book Poetry Competition, the novella H & G, winner of the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Clarissa Dalloway Prize, and Fablesque, winner of Tupelo Press’s Berkshire Prize. Her poetry, fiction, and essays appear in publications including The Nation, The Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, American Poetry Review, Ecotone, Shenandoah, The Hopkins Review, Colorado Review, Fairy Tale Review, Poetry, Poetry Daily, Poem-a-Day, The Best American Poetry, and The American Sonnet: An Anthology of Poems and Essays. Her awards include a Bunting Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and a Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowship. She is an Associate Professor at Mount Holyoke College.

Jane Satterfield
“Glistering apparel”: Spells, Blessings, and Other Enchantments

janeFrom ancient times poets have used spells and blessings to as a form of personal or cultural empowerment as well as a practical means of activating healing or good fortune. How might these forms invigorate our own creative practice? Using a group of poems that adapt strategies common to spells, prayers, and litanies from a variety of contexts (including The Tempest), we’ll look at the way close observation of the natural world, metaphor, word play, and anaphora can be harnessed to voice praise of or resistance to aspects of the world around us. We’ll try our hand at some prompts to generate new work and you’ll have a chance to consult with the instructor for individual feedback.

Jane Satterfield is the author of five poetry books, including The Badass  Brontës (a winner of the Diode Editions Book Prize, published in 2023), Apocalypse Mix, Her Familiars, and Assignation at Vanishing Point. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship, the 49th Parallel Award for Poetry from Bellingham Review, the Ledbury Poetry Festival Prize, and more. Her nonfiction book, Daughters of Empire: A Memoir of a Year in Britain and Beyond, features selections that received the Florida Review Editors’ Prize and the Faulkner Society/Pirate’s Alley Essay Award. Recent poetry and essays appear in Birmingham Poetry Review, The Common, Ecotone, Literary Matters, The Missouri Review, Orion, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere, as well as on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. Satterfield has served on the faculty of the West Chester Poetry Conference and as the 2019 Salisbury, Maryland Poet-in-Residence. She is married to poet Ned Balbo and lives in Baltimore, where she is a professor of writing at Loyola University Maryland.

Special Events:

Petrarch, Shakespeare, and YOU!
with Lee Bahan, Moira Egan, and David Yezzi

Lee BahanThe intra- and interplay are the things “Wherein Shakespeare Corrects Petrarch in Love” and which Lee Bahan traces, aided by Romeo and Juliet and Petrarch scholar Thomas Roche, to uncover Will’s scriptural beef with the Italian sonneteer. Just as My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun joys in overturning Petrarchan conventions, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream complicates and darkens certain idealized notions of love, leading David Yezzi to ask, “Shakespeare’s Midsummer: Dream or Nightmare?” The panel’s piece de resistance—in more ways than one!—"Subverting the Stance: From Petrarch to Shakespeare to Us, Oh My (or, Badass Sonnetry),” invites you to join Moira Egan on a tour featuring sonnets by Meredith, Millay, cummings, Hacker, and Addonizio and culminating in a generative exercise that will help YOU to create your own badass sonnet.    

Lee Harlin Bahan is the author of two chapbooks of her own poetry, Migration Solo (Writers’ Center Press, 1989) and Notes to Sing (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her first book of Petrarch translations, A Year of Mourning (Able Muse Press, 2017), was a special honoree for the 2016 Able Muse Book Award, and she discussed her second collection of Petrarch translations, To Wrestle with the Angel: Petrarch’s “Chapbook” of 1337 (Finishing Line Press, 2018), at the 2019 University of Northern Iowa’s NAR 50 conference. Lee’s translation of one of Petrarch’s sestinas is to be an “Editor’s Choice” in issue 16.2 of The Hopkins Review and her new book of Petrarch translations, Advent and Lent, has been accepted by Able Muse Press. Lee lives with her husband Pat in a l00-year-old-plus farmhouse outside Medora, IN.  
yezziDavid Yezzi’s latest books are More Things in Heaven: New and Selected Poems (Measure Press) and Late Romance: Anthony Hecht—A Poet’s Life, forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press in November. A 2022 short-term visiting fellow at Jesus College, Oxford, he teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins. With the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, he recently performed the title role in King Lear, and this spring he appeared in Hamlet (Ghost/Player King) at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company.

MoiraMoira Egan's most recent book of poems is Amore e Morte (Love and Death), a bilingual New & Selected (Edizioni Tlon, Rome, 2022). Her work has been published in journals and anthologies on four continents. She lives, teaches, translates, and sometimes even writes in Rome.       

Troubling Phillis: 250 Years after Poems on Various Subjects, Religious, and Moral with Yalonda JD Green, Melissa Benbow, Aly  Gonzalez, and Alexis Sims


Contemporary treatments and discussion of Phillis Wheatley Peters's poems have evolved in how they grapple with the complexity of her work, reconsider her position as a Black woman poet in the 1700s, and recontextualize her life (the inclusion of her married last name is one example). As we commemorate the 250th anniversary of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious, and Moral, this interdisciplinary panel discussion seeks to “trouble” prevailing critiques of Phillis Wheatley Peter’s poetic work, to refresh our collective understandings of her life, and to reflect her agency and brilliant mind living and writing as a freed Black woman in colonial America. We’ll consider the lasting impact of Wheatley Peters's voice and creative work as it ripples out from her robust, but very short life.

Yalonda JD Green, PhD is a vocalist, poet, educator, and all-around creative jane from Detroit. She is the Literature and Africana Studies Librarian at University of Delaware Library, Museums, and Press and Press as well as a member of both the UD Press Editorial Board and the Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center (IHRC) Advisory Council. Dr. Green is an alumna of Kentucky State University with graduate degrees from Wake Forest University, University of Louisville, and University of Kentucky. She is also an American Library Association Spectrum Scholar and a Cave Canem Alumni Fellow. Her poetic work has appeared in TORCH, Reverie, Mythium, various anthologies and other creative spaces, including a bus shelter in Louisville, Kentucky. Because she lives in various worlds, Yalonda JD Green goes by multiple names–Ms. Yalonda, The Jazzy Librarian, Dr. Green, Dr. Londy, JD Green, The Singing LibraryLady–but never Yolanda. A professional musician, performer, and seasoned vocal workshop facilitator, JD has gleefully participated in frequent musical collaborations, voiceover and improvisational projects, studio and stage work, documentary and indie film, youth music camps, and other community-enriching experiments. Freshly transplanted from Louisville, Kentucky to Delaware, Yalonda is ready to connect with the creative cultural communities in and around her new home.

Melissa Benbow is a fifth year PhD student in the English Department at the University of Delaware. She is also a African American Public Humanities Initiative Fellow, and a Graduate Assistant for University of Delaware’s Museum Studies and Public Engagement Program. Melissa’s dissertation focuses on Edmonia Lewis and the transatlantic communities that supported the growth of her career. Her project will be a compilation of essays accompanying an online exhibition that will allow viewers to get a sense of Edmonia Lewis’ transatlantic and transcontinental journeys. This exhibition also represents Melissa’s investment in public education and engagement, which is why she has also dedicated time to museum education with elementary school children and archiving projects with community based organizations, as well as other people-centered efforts. Melissa hopes to continue to create ways to connect academia to public engagement after she completes her doctoral program. 

Luke Stromberg
New Works Panel with Ernest Hilbert, Jane Satterfield, and Susan Spear

Luke S

Every year, hundreds of poetry collections are published. It is impossible to highlight every rewarding collection, but this panel seeks to highlight a few new works. Ernest Hilbert, Jane Satterfield, Susan Spear, and Jane Satterfield will read from their new books.

Luke Stromberg is the author of the poetry collection The Elephant’s Mouth (2022, Kelsay Books). His poetry has appeared in Smartish Pace, Literary Matters, The Hopkins Review, The New Criterion, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Think Journal, The Raintown Review, ONE ART, Philadelphia Stories, and elsewhere. He also serves as the Associate Poetry Editor for the arts and culture blog E-Verse Radio. He works as an adjunct English instructor at Eastern University and St. Joseph's University and lives in Upper Darby, PA.







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