Fellow in Poetics & Poetic Practice

The Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing Fellow in Poetics & Poetic Practice is appointed for the fall semester of each academic year. He or she will teach an undergraduate seminar that integrates creative writing and poetics, and will serve as a mentor for the students in this class. He or she will join the community of writers, critics and friends of contemporary writing that forms around the Kelly Writers House and Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, participating in workshops, giving readings, talks and presentations. The purpose of the Fellows in Poetics & Poetic Practice project is to deepen connections young writers at Penn can make with writers of richly heterodox poetic practice whose work tends not to fit neatly into academic categories. It is expected that the Fellow will make lasting connections with the faculty and students in the Penn writing communities.

The Fellow in Poetics & Poetic Practice will receive a modest stipend and will have access to funds for creating programs and projects. Insofar as CPCW is an innovation factory or skunk works for new ideas and venturesome projects in contemporary writing, the Fellows in Poetics will help further this enterprise.

Our 2010-2011 Fellow is Marcella Durand

Marcella Durand Marcella Durand’s recent books include Deep Eco Pré, a collaboration with Tina Darragh published by Little Red Leaves in 2009; Area, published by Belladonna Books in 2008 as part of the Council of Literary Magazines and Small Press’s FACE OUT program, and Traffic & Weather, a site-specific book-length poem written during a residency at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in downtown Manhattan (Futurepoem Books, 2008). She has collaborated with artists on various projects, including most recently a collaboration with New Orleans artist Karoline Schleh titled, “Stare: What Wild New World Is This?” (exhibited at Barrister’s Gallery, Fall 2010). She has talked about the potential intersections of poetry and ecology at Kelly Writers House, Poets House, Small Press Traffic, Naropa University, and other venues. Her essays and poetry have appeared in The Nation, Ecopoetics, NYFA Current, Conjunctions, The Poker, HOW(2), Critiphoria, The Denver Quarterly, and other journals. She was a 2009 fellow in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts.


In the Spring of 2011 Marcella will be teaching a course titled Poetry & Poetics: The Ecology of Poetry
In this course, we will delve into the emerging discipline of ecopoetics. While it has a catchy title, what ecopoetics actually is remains elusive. We will experiment with writing in forms associated with nature poetry such as the pastoral, while inventing new ones based on our own observations of the “world about.” Reading includes selections from Black Nature Poetry and The Ecolanguage Reader, as well as a range of poetry that will expand and illuminate the potentials of ecopoetics.


Our 2008-2009 Fellow was Rachel Levitsky

Rachel Levitsky's first full-length volume, Under the Sun, was published by Futurepoem books in 2003. She is the author of five chapbooks of poetry, Dearly (a+bend, 1999), Dearly 356, Cartographies of Error (Leroy, 1999), The Adventures of Yaya and Grace (PotesPoets, 1999) and 2(1x1)Portraits (Baksun, 1998). Levitsky also writes poetry plays, three of which (one with Camille Roy) have been performed in New York and San Francisco. Levitsky's work has been published in magazines such as Sentence, Fence, The Brooklyn Rail, Global City, The Hat, Skanky Possum, Lungfull! and in the anthology, 19 Lines: A Drawing Center Writing Anthology. She founded Belladonna--an event and publication series for avant-garde poetics in August 1999. A past fellow of The McDowell Colony and Lower Manhattan Community Council, she teaches at Pratt Institute and lives steps away from The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.


In the spring semester of 2009, Rachel will be teaching a writing course entitled Poetry and Poetic: Writing Practice of the Avant-Garde. The seminar is numbered English 111.301, Thursdays 1:30-4:30. Here is the description Rachel provides:
In this writing workshop we will take cues from the most exciting hybrid poetries by contemporary poets. Like Lila Zemborain, we will tell our story in one ever-expansive sentence, circling back and folding in toward closer examination. Like kari edwards, Carla Harryman and Leslie Scalapino we will write works notable for their quick quotidian movement and complex intellectual and emotional register. Like Rachel Zolf, M. Norbese Philip and Tisa Bryant we will cull language, image and thinking from multiple outside sources as a method in which one may both complicate and maintain an ethical position. And like Dodie Bellamy, Robert Gluck and Etel Adnan we will tell it as it is, in straightforward and deeply intelligent prose. We will practice approaching our writing through a variety of other fields such as science, philosophy and visual art. As a part of this workshop, students will edit and amplify each others' work through publication and performance. Additionally, some of the authors we read will be visiting the campus for lunch talks and after-class visits.


Our 2007-2008 Fellow was Tracie Morris

Tracie Morris is a multi-disciplinary poet who has worked in theater, dance, music and film. She has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia. Primarily known as a "musical poet," Tracie has worked with an extensive range of internationally recognized musicians and other artists. She has participated in a dozen recording projects. Her sound poetry has most recently been featured in the 2002 Whitney Biennial.

She is the recipient of numerous awards for poetry including the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, Creative Capital Fellowship, the National Haiku Slam Championship and an Asian Cultural Council Fellowship. She is the author of two poetry collections, Intermission and Chap-T-her Won.

Tracie's poetry has been anthologized in literary magazines, newspapers and books including 360 Degrees: A Revolution of Black Poets, Listen Up!, Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, and Soul. Her words have also been featured in commissioned pieces for several organizations including Aaron Davis Hall, the International Festival for the Arts, The Kitchen, Franklin Furnace and Yale Repertory Theater for choreographer Ralph Lemon.

Tracie holds degrees from Hunter College and New York University. She also holds certificates from the Cave Canem Summer Institute and the Hempispheric Institute of NYU. She teaches at Eastern Michigan University.


Tracie is currently teaching this course:

English 111.302 - Experimental Writing: Cultivating a Poetic Philosophy - Tracie Morris
Tuesdays from 1:30-4:30

Many of us are motivated to write poetry, but do we know where the motivation comes from? How do our poems "come through the page" in the ways that they do? Often we are interested in exploring our ideas through poetry but rarely do we get the opportunity to seriously consider what our poems say about our philosophical ideas, our abstract notions and our secret desires. These motivations not only manifest themselves in the words we choose and the topics we work with but in the nuts and bolts of how we place words on the page.

In this course we will consider ways in which philosophical ideas construct poetic form and content. During the semester we will explore each student's conceptual underpinnings and how these sensibilities can form the basis for unique poetic voices and/or the development of a new voice. The course requirements will include creative *and* analytical writing to get to the heart of what we write, how we write and why we write. We will look at some of the relationships between speech act theory, the popularity of "spoken word" as an outlet for poetic performance, confessional poetry, some experimental poetry movements, and your own perspectives about how poetry intersects with your personal philosophy.


Our 2006-2007 Fellow was Linh Dinh

A native of Vietnam, Mr. Dinh has translated Vietnamese poetry in addition to writing original poems and prose. As founder and editor of The Drunken Boat, a Philadelphia literary journal, he published the work of poets and artists as well as anonymous "found" literature in the form of letters and journals. He is on the Philadelphia Art in City Hall Advisory Committee and is active within the community of Philadelphia's alternative galleries, cooperatives, and non-profit arts organizations. In addition to his writing and visual arts activities, Mr. Dinh acted as was Guest Curator of the exhibit "Toys and Incense" at the Levy Gallery at Moore College of Art and Design in which the role of improvisation and the play in contemporary visual art was explored.

Linh Dinh was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1963, came to the US in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (Seven Stories Press 2000) and Blood and Soap (Seven Stories Press 2004), and three books of poems, All Around What Empties Out (Tinfish 2003), American Tatts (Chax 2005) and Borderless Bodies (Factory School 2006). His work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, Best American Poetry 2004 and Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, among other places. Linh Dinh is also the editor of the anthologies Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (Seven Stories Press 1996) and Three Vietnamese Poets (Tinfish 2001), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (Tupelo 2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by the Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. He has been invited to read poems all over the US, and in London, Cambridge and Berlin.

No border separates Linh Dinh's poetry from his painting. In writings which allude to current events, politics, and art history, or in paintings in which fragmentary objects are iconically isolated on spare color fields or familiar masterpieces of Impressionism are mysteriously depopulated and rendered as vacant landscape, Mr. Dinh's overlapping interests are immediately apparent.


Linh Dinh taught this course:

English 111.302 - Poetry & Poetics - Linh Dinh
Wednesdays 2-5 PM

If you have something very urgent to say, you'll find a way to say it. In this poetry writing workshop, weíll examine the real state of our union, at variance with the official one. Informed and provoked by the essays of James Howard Kunstler, Richard Heinberg and Susan Sontag, etc, weíll arrive, hopefully, at a deeper understanding of the many crises confronting America. Looking past the spins and jives, seeing behind whatís behind, weíll deconstruct America. There will be a writing assigment each week, with ensuing class discussions. By the end, each student will have a body of poems that reflects his or her state of the union. Permission of the instructor is required. Send a brief email stating why you wish to attend the workshop (writing samples not required) to linhdinh at yahoo.com.


Our 2005-2006 Fellow was Erica Hunt

Erica Hunt works at the forefront of experimental poetry and poetics, critical race theory, and feminist aesthetics. She has written three books of poetry: Arcade, with artist Alison Saar, Piece Logic, and Local History (Roof Books, 1993). Her published and forthcoming essays include "Notes for an Oppositional Poetics" (The Politics of Poetic Form,, ed. Charles Bernstein), "Parabolay" (Boundary 2), and "Roots of the Black Avant Garde" (Tripwire, forthcoming). Hunt's poems can be found in Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women (ed. Mary Margaret Sloan), Iowa Poetry Review, and the Virago Anthology of Women's Love Poetry. Hunt has also worked as a housing organizer, radio producer, poetry teacher, and program officer for a social justice campaign. She is currently president of The Twenty-First Century Foundation which supports organizations addressing root causes of social injustice impacting the Black community.


Our 2004-2005 Fellow was Kenneth Goldsmith