Writing into Inhospitable Space
Poets Cherene Sherrard and Heather Swan discuss poetry of witness and newly inhabited histories from their new books live on Crowdcast. Join the event at: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/wbf-writing-into. Before the event begins, you will see a countdown and the event image.
How does poetry allow us to write into and heal from living in spaces that do not offer nourishment and sustenance, but rather toxicities, physical and psychological? What does it take to make yourself heard in a hostile environment? How do you soften hearts while protecting your own well-being? We will read and talk about how poetry can replenish and open opportunities for creating uncommon kinships. Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston once said: “All my skinfolk ain’t my kinfolk.” Contrary-wise, is it possible to make someone on the opposite side of the political, social, or cultural aisle kin? The audience will have a chance to participate in the conversation that will examine inhospitable aspects of our current moment including institutional racism, environmental violence and their overlap, and also consider spells and recipes for making a better world.
Originally from Los Angeles, Cherene Sherrard is a poet, scholar, and essayist. She is the Sally Mead Hands-Bascom Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her creative writing and research explores the nuanced and multifaceted aspects of black life in the diaspora. She is the author of Portraits of the New Negro Woman: Visual and Literary Culture in the Harlem Renaissance (2007) and Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color (2011) Her debut poetry collection, Vixen, was published in 2017 and her chapbook, Mistress, Reclining was the winner of the new women’s voice award from Finishing Line Press. Her creative nonfiction and poetry has been published in The Rumpus, Plume, The New York Times Magazine, Verse Daily, The Journal, Terrain.org, Blackbird, Water~Stone Review, Prairie Schooner, and numerous other journals. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Wisconsin Arts Board Grant and poetry fellowships to Ragdale and Sewanee Writer’s Conference.
Heather Swan is the author of the nonfiction book, Where Honeybees Thrive: Stories from the Field (Penn State Press), winner of the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award; the chapbook of poems, The Edge of Damage (Parallel Press), winner of Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Best Chapbook Award; and the forthcoming book of poems, A Kinship with Ash (Terrapin Books). Her nonfiction has appeared in such places as Aeon, Belt Magazine, Catapult, Minding Nature, Basalt, ISLE, and Edge Effects. Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Poet Lore, The Hopper, Phoebe, Cold Mountain Review, Midwestern Gothic, The Raleigh Review and several anthologies. She has been the recipient of the Martha Meyer Renk Fellowship in Poetry, the August Derleth Prize, and an Illinois Arts Council Artist Grant. She teaches writing and environmental literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.