NOTE DATE CHANGE! Do happy poems exist? If they do, can they be as good as the poems that wreck us? Can a happy poem wreck us? And how can we avoid sentimentality or, is that a risk we just need to take? In this generative session, we’ll look at Ross Gay’s essay, “Joy Is Such a Human Madness” (from his collection The Book of Delights) as a compass for our discussion and a starting point for writing about/from/through happiness, joy, and pleasure. Within the genre of happy poems, we’ll think about poems that celebrate love, sex, community, and connection of various kinds. We’ll examine some model poems by Gay and others, including Czesław Miłosz, Jane Hirshfield, and Derrick Austin. Come prepared to engage in jubilant experimentation.
Chen Chen is the author of two books of poetry, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency (BOA Editions, 2022) and When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award. His work appears in many publications, including Poetry and three editions of The Best American Poetry. He was the 2018-22 Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University and currently teaches for the low-residency M.F.A. programs at New England College and Stonecoast.
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