A Form for What Haunts You: Using Fixed Forms to Write About Trauma

121BC, Pennsylvania Convention Center, 100 Level
Thursday, March 24, 2022
12:10 pm to 1:25 pm


Many poets feel compelled to write about painful experiences, but we may approach such material with a mixture of urgency and hesitancy. Finding the right language to convey trauma can be liberatory, but the process is often painful. A fixed form—whether that be a villanelle, a golden shovel, or a grocery list—can provide a strong container for writing about trauma and, more generally, memories that haunt. This panel features five poets discussing their usage of fixed forms to approach trauma.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: A_Form_for_What_Haunts_You_Outline1.pdf



Melissa Crowe is the author of the poetry collection Dear Terror, Dear Splendor. She is the coordinator of the MFA program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she teaches poetry and publishing.

Stevie Edwards holds an MFA from Cornell University and a PhD from University of North Texas. She is a lecturer at Clemson University and a senior editor at YesYes Books. She is the author of Sadness Workshop, Humanly, and Good Grief. Her poems appear in American Poetry Review, Missouri Review, and Crazyhorse.

Rachel McKibbens is the author of three full-length books of poetry, blud, Into the Dark & Emptying Field, and Pink Elephant, as well as the chapbook Mammoth. She is a two-time New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellow and founder of the Pink Door Writing Retreat.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Open Interval, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Black Swan, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She has been awarded fellowships from Cave Canem, the Lannan Foundation, and Civitella Ranieri.

Meg Day is the 2015–2016 recipient of the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, a 2013 recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, and the author of Last Psalm at Sea Level. Day is assistant professor of English and creative writing at Franklin & Marshall College.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center