S222. Why [Not] Say What Happened?: On Writing Confessional Poetry

Room 14, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
Saturday, March 10, 2018
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm


The 20th century saw both the birth of confessional poetry and its backlash. Today, the position of the “poetry of the personal” within contemporary poetry remains controversial, as poets tangle with the stakes of writing about the self. Join five poets for a candid conversation about their relationship to the confessional label; its usefulness—and misuse—when ascribed to poets writing about race, gender, and sexuality; and interrogating the ongoing dialogue between poet, speaker, and reader.



Geffrey Davis is the author of Revising the Storm, winner of the A. Poulin Prize. His honors also include a Cave Canem fellowship, the Anne Halley Prize, the Wabash Prize, the Dogwood Prize, and the Leonard Steinberg Memorial/Academy of American Poets Prize. He teaches at the University of Arkansas.

Rachel Mennies is the author of The Glad Hand of God Points Backwards, winner of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry and finalist for a National Jewish Book Award. She teaches writing at Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of AGNI's editorial staff.

Jericho Brown wrote Please, which won the American Book Award, and The New Testament, which won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. He is a Guggenheim fellow, and his poems have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Best American Poetry. He is an associate professor at Emory University.

Maggie Smith is the author of, most recently, Good Bones and The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison. Her poems have appeared in The New York Times, AGNI, and The Best American Poetry 2017, as well as on the CBS primetime drama Madam Secretary. A 2011 NEA fellow, Smith is a freelance writer and editor.

Natalie Diaz is a poet with too many colors and voices and places and identities to live in this short reservation of a bio.


March 8–11, 2023
Seattle, Washington

Seattle Convention Center