On Swagger, Wildness, & The Color Red: Interview with Dorothea Lasky


Teachers & Writers Magazine, March 2015

"I’ve always thought of teachers as the ultimate glamorous performers. They are the lounge singers of the imagination." READ HERE

What Are We Afraid Of?: Interview with Eve Ensler

Teachers & Writers Magazine, November 2014.

"You can't teach a class unless you're awake. You can't help people come into their bodies unless you're in your body." READ HERE

Eve Ensler listening to a young woman telling her story (with the "human microphone") at Zuccotti Park during Occupy Wall Street. October 2011.

Eve Ensler listening to a young woman telling her story (with the "human microphone") at Zuccotti Park during Occupy Wall Street. October 2011.

Poetry as Play Podcast

The Poetry Foundation, September 2014

Interview with Curtis Fox on poetry, play, secret hideouts, and Robert Duncan's "Childhood Retreat." LISTEN HERE

Serious Play: Odes to the Everyday

The Poetry Foundation, August 2013

Some teacher once asked us to write a poem or a story or a letter, and we stared at the blank page and took the plunge. Then we passed it in and waited, and eventually it came back to us. (What did yours look like when you got it back?) Whether we grew accustomed to praise or seemingly endless red edits, eventually we learned that writing is difficult, and that to make the attempt is necessarily to make mistakes. If you were lucky, you had teachers who understood that so-called mistakes were an inevitable part of the process, who valued the emerging idea over the error on the surface. But whatever happens to us, we become more inhibited as we grow up. We get a bit tighter, a bit more apprehensive, and eventually the blank page may seem more of a prison than an open field. And we stand at the edge with wary expressions, inwardly awaiting invitations to play. Play loosens us up, allows us to make gestures that are native and authentic and maybe even strange because they are beyond the range of our usual movements. And play—like poetry—inspires an absorption, a heightened attention that resists heaviness, a freedom, a flow. READ HERE

Glories Strung Like Beads: Joe Brainard's "I Remember"

Teachers and Writers Magazine, Winter 2012 / 2013

As artists and writers, we know there is a point to all of this. But as teachers, we may be pressed to explain it. The I Remember exercise can serve clear and pointed pedagogical purposes: it can be a lead-in to a unit on the personal essay, or students can select one of their lines and expand it into a descriptive poem or fictional story. It can be used as a “community-building” exercise at the beginning of a class or workshop, or it can be adapted into a culminating “free write” that reflects on a specific educational experience. Still, I think the particular magic of I Remember is the permission it issues to ditch the compass and wander, to revel in the remembered details of our lives as they emerge in their own mysterious order, to sidestep the tyranny of the timeline and open ourselves to other possibilities, to affirm the trivial along with the significant, and to perceive that this hierarchy may be flimsier than we imagined. As any snooping child knows, the plastic beads in a box of jewelry are no less glorious. READ HERE


The Sky is the Limit: E. E. Cummings in the Classroom

Teachers and Writers Magazine, Fall 2011

“What color is the sky?” Predictably, several students blurt out “Blue.” “Okay, what color is the sky at night?” This is when the magic kicks in. Aniyah raises her hand and says, “Navy.” Brandon says, “Dark black.” Heads nod. It begins to dawn on all of us that ‘the sky is blue’ isn’t true at all. It depends on the weather and the time of day and the smog and the season. “What color is the sky at sunset?” Here the colors tumble out: red, orange, pink, yellow. My favorite of the day comes from Ayman, who raises his hand with even more sparkle than usual and says, “Peach.” READ HERE

Plays Well With Others: Collaborative Poems in the Classroom

Teachers and Writers Magazine, Summer 2009

Collaborative poems can help us write more freely by returning a sense of play to the process. Writing becomes a game, which alleviates the anxiety to “make it good.” The poem moves too quickly to be interrogated with a ready eraser, and as the fluttering page is passed into another’s hands, we learn to let go and be spontaneous. We experience the surprise of an unexpected turn of phrase, a flash of intelligence amid the word-romp. We get ideas from the gestures of our collaborators, and a sort of congenial one-upmanship sets in. We wander beyond our usual boundaries. We inspire each other. READ MORE

See What Happens: Teaching Poems on Poetry

Teachers and Writers Magazine, Fall 2008

Whereas Miranda imagines poetry as a message sent into the sky, Ivelisse Gil sees the poem as a received message: “Poetry is like the sky writes to me.” Selina Mejia describes poetry as a kind of enlightenment: “Poetry is like the sun shining in people’s heads.” Clouds appear in Deja Powell’s poem, but they carry inspiration: “Poetry is like rain falling on the paper every time you think of something.” Chantel Taveras’ poem echoes William Wordsworth’s definition of poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings recollected in tranquility.” “Poetry is like your emotions saying goodbye. Poetry is like a big wave in your heart. Poetry is like my mother floating in the bathtub.” These students are only eight years old, yet they intuitively understand things about  poetry that remind me why I read, write, and teach. READ MORE