“In Other Words” Poetry workshop, Reading, + Exhibit 2019

“Every word is connected to other words, to history, to culture, to how we see.” –Kim Addonizio, Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within

In this workshop, I asked writers to reflect on what’s a vote worth. And what poetry can do. I asked what art has been formed out of oppression and necessity.

We reflected on what it means to have a voice. To be silenced. We reflected on boundaries and spaces; how to symbolize, characterize, or, in other words, describe and manifest their own voice as a national voice. How to connect across divides.


We read poems by Denise Levertov, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Elizabeth Alexander, Julie Marie Wade, Ada Limón, and more. We experimented with form: ars poetica, persona, ekphrasis, inauguration poems, and collaborative writing. We discussed erasure as a conversation, as silencing, and as voicing from the margins of a dominant narrative. We explored what stories might be missing from our own histories.

We talked about designs where voting is difficult and/or inaccessible; particularly those that are associated with marginalized communities; such as felon voting, what places even qualify as voting areas, where they disperse the polls, private places that don’t have to adhere to the disabilities act, immigrant ID and documentation, etc. We wrote about resistance. And hope.

Much gratitude to Amy Miller of Louisville Literary Arts, Sharon Scott of ArtXFm WXOX, and our sponsor Kentucky Humanities for this powerful experience.

workshop participants

jodi hooper

I am blown away by Jodi’s poem that fuses academic analysis, sci-fi film, and the grotesque abstraction of a subject that is creeping and lurking and in the static of our necklines: monsters in our everyday experience. Jodi is a fierce and creative thinker and poet.

kay shamblin

Kay Shamblin. I so very much admire the questioning and infolding of a clear voice that is tense and visceral. With surprising and surreal associations, I find myself reading and rereading Kay’s writing. The poems fully embrace the harshness and softness of a continuing need to speak on violences we experience. The titles are also fabulously weird & immediately grab me as a reader.

andrea hansen

Andrea Hansen’s poem calls to us via mantra-like repetition, evoking stronger and more nuanced images and connections each time. Andrea’s writing is vulnerable and imaginative. 

izzy wilson

Izzy Wilson’s writing explores a hybrid identity and how silence is a type of horror. She offers specific and detailed narratives, allowing a once-silenced collective and diverse national voice speak its pain through her words. I am impressed by the reach of Izzy’s poetic voice.

katy harvey

Katy Harvey’s writing is meditative and philosophical. Her poems beautifully illustrate symbolism for silencing and the importance of words, and how language is active and dynamic.

diane cruze

I am humbled by Diane Cruze and her ability to reach into history to connect across time. In one poem, Diane reflects on a photograph of suffragists and relates it to current movements and marches, down to the details of hats they wore. Diane’s poems remind us that we are all part of a legacy, and that is our power.