Beyond Representation: Intersections of Poetry & Mental Illness

Thursday, March 24, 2022
3:20 pm to 4:20 pm


The intersection of poetry and mental illness has a problematic history in the cultural imagination, from Blake’s mythologized “madness” to Plath’s romanticized suicide. In recent years this connection has been demystified, illuminating that the lived reality of writing with these disabilities is complex—as is the relationship between one’s conditions and their art. How do mental illnesses consciously and subconsciously impact poetics? This panel convenes five poets to discuss their experiences.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: Beyond_Representation_Intersections_of_Poetry_and_Mental_Illness.pdf



Sara Eliza Johnson is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in poetry, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, and Winter Fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, among other honors. Her first book, Bone Map, won the 2013 National Poetry Series. Her second book, Vapor, will be published in 2022.

Rachel Mennies is the author of The Naomi Letters and 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 works as an adjunct professor and freelance writer and serves as a member of AGNI's editorial staff.

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is a poet, essayist, and translator. He is the author of Cenzontle, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Prize, Dulce, and Children of the Land. A Canto Mundo Fellow, he cofounded the Undocupoets campaign.

Aricka Foreman is an American poet and interdisciplinary writer from Detroit, Michigan. Her debut poetry collection, Salt Body Shimmer, earned her the 2021 Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry. She has earned fellowships from Cave Canem, Callaloo, and the Millay Colony for the Arts.

Daniella Toosie-Watson has received fellowships and awards from the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop and the University of Michigan Hopwood Program. Winner of the 92Y 2020 Discovery prize, she received her MFA from the University of Michigan. Daniella is a program coordinator for Lambda Literary.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center