Anaïs Duplan

BA, Bennington College. MFA, Iowa Writers' Workshop. Author of Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture, 9 Poems/The Lovers, Mount Carmel and the Blood of Parnassus, and Take This Stallion. Works have been published by The Paris Review, Hyperallergic, PBS News Hour, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, and Bettering American Poetry and a number of other publications. Has taught at University of Iowa, Columbia University, and St. Joseph's College. SLC, 2020–

Previous Courses

MFA Writing

In My Honest Opinion: Documentary, Identity, and Testimony Poetics


The truth…is one of those words that constantly crosses our universe in a dazzling wake, but it also pursued by suspicion….truth is what writing wants.

—Hélène Cixous.

Whatever a person wants to get out of art, life has more of it.​​

—manuel arturo abreu

As poets, we have an obligation to writing, not only as a technical skill we continually learn to improve, but as a method of truth-seeking. Rather than an end-point or static entity, the truth is a dynamic process of understanding, relearning, risk-taking, and transformation. Our work during this craft class will challenge us to re-envision what it means to be a truthful speaker in 2020, whether poetry has ethical obligations and to whom, and what role sociality plays in our writing practices. Testimony, documentary, and identity poetics are three literary frameworks we can use to help us answer questions like, “Whose words can we trust in today’s political landscape?” and “Whose testimony is valid?” Readings will come from Layli Long Soldier, June Jordan, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Cameron Awkward-Rich, Bhanu Khapil, Simone White, and others. Classes will include discussions of outside readings and student work as, throughout the semester, students work toward the completion of a chapbook-length collection of documentarian poems. We will try to uncover how poetry can help us to document the world around us and to redefine ourselves as autonomous individuals and social agents.


Mixed-Genre Poetry/Prose Craft: On Sustaining a Practice of Documentation


The violence enacted on marginalized people is met with a poetry of resistance: art and literature as a political tool accessible to the masses. This course engages, through the marriage of poetry and the visual arts, with multidisciplinary, Black avant-garde methodologies toward documentation. What service do poetics and art-making practices offer to liberation, memory, and grief? In working to redefine the role of the writer-artist through the use of documentary poetic practices—and within a Black feminist framework—this course seeks a common thread across visual and textual mediums. Through ongoing readings, class discussions, and research, we will aim to link contemporary visual arts and documentary poetics as effective methodologies for documenting the liberation struggles and the marginalized experience. Utilizing texts such as adrienne maree brown’s Pleasure Activism and Maurice Banchot’s The Writing of Disaster, we will consider the ideas of liberation, poetics, and artmaking in contrast to the functions of fact-based writing, testimony, and affidavits. The course will culminate in a final project that asks each student to create an archive, whether in the form of physical spaces, digital resources, or other more experimental forms.