This Last, Selfish Stitch: On Empathy, Appropriation, and Writing Poems About the Body
Why should we write about our bodies, rendering them frankly in our poems? How should we approach writing about the bodies of others without appropriation? What is the relationship of poetry to the body, and how does this dynamic influence our writing process? In this generative workshop and conversation, we will answer these questions by participating in writing exercises meant to establish a link between point of view and the body and by reading poems that take on the corporeal experience as subject matter, investigating the ways in which the body is both distanced and made closer, more real, even more intimate through its poetic rendering. We will discuss issues of appropriation and the ways in which writing can, if approached incorrectly, shame, abuse, and erase bodies. We will interrogate our own approaches to writing about bodies, and discuss the ways in which writing about the body can become political, an act of social justice meant to celebrate those bodies and protect their humanity.
Emilia Phillips (she/her/hers) is the author of three poetry collections from the University of Akron Press, most recently Empty Clip (2018), and four chapbooks, including Hemlock (Diode Editions, 2019). Winner of a 2019 Pushcart Prize, Phillips’s poems, lyric memoirs, and poetry reviews appear widely in literary publications including Agni, American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, The New York Times, Ploughshares, Poetry, and elsewhere. She’s an assistant professor in the MFA Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She’s now at work on Wound Revisions: Memoirs and a poetry collection.