Joshua Bennett

BA, University of Pennsylvania. MA, University of Warwick (UK). MA, Princeton University; PhD, Princeton University. Author of three books of poetry and criticism: The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016), winner of the National Poetry Series and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award; Being Property Once Myself (Harvard University Press, 2020); and Owed (Penguin, 2020). His writing has been published in Best American Poetry, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. Bennett has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, MIT, and the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. His first work of narrative nonfiction, Spoken Word: A Cultural History, is forthcoming from Knopf. SLC, 2021–

Previous Courses

MFA Writing

Social Poetics—Poetry Workshop


For the purposes of this workshop, we will read one another’s poems, study a wide range of performances—primarily within the Black expressive tradition—and think collectively about what it means to consider the writing and recitation of poetry, in the first instance, as an occasion for gathering, conviviality, and the celebration of life itself. This is a workshop fundamentally concerned with kinship. With the ways that the written page, the pulpit, the concert stage, and the street-corner soapbox all open us up to new ways of knowing. In this workshop, we will study the history of workshops. We will study the poetics and pedagogy of, among others, Gwendolyn Brooks, June Jordan, and Toni Morrison. We will analyze their approaches to teaching poetry to children in Brooklyn, street organizations in Chicago, experimental performance collectives in Washington DC, and countless everyday people all across the world likewise interested in the transformative potential of the Word. We will also read a number of “minor poets” within this tradition and commit our time to a robust engagement with their thinking.