S127. Putting Madness to Work: The Poetics and Politics of Recovery

Room 202A, Washington Convention Center, Level Two
Saturday, February 11, 2017
9:00 am to 10:15 am


Madness is a construct often attached to the work and lives of writers. How do writers working at the intersections of race, gender, and class utilize it to orient toward contemporary discourses of mental health that disproportionately target their communities, for instance, around colonial erasure, sexual violence, police brutality, war? Panelists explore how their work is informed by and/or subverts the politics by which trauma is linked to social identity and prescribed strategies of recovery.



Cynthia Dewi Oka is author of two books of poems, Salvage and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water. A Pushcart Prize Nominee, she has received the Fifth Wednesday Journal Editor's Prize in Poetry and an artist grant from Vermont Studio Center. Her poetry appears in various print and online publications.

Jeffery Renard Allen is the author of five books of fiction and poetry, most recently the novel Song of the Shank. He teaches in the creative writing program at University of Virginia. He has received many accolades for his work, including a Whiting Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Rickey Laurentiis is the author of Boy with Thorn, selected by Terrance Hayes for the 2014 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. His honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy, and a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.

Seema Reza is the author of When the World Breaks Open, a memoir in essays and poetry and coordinates and facilitates a unique multihospital military arts program in Washington, DC. She is a VONA alumna and serves as a council member at large for the Transformative Language Arts Network.

Vincent Toro is winner of the Sawtooth Poetry Prize and the Metlife Nuestras Voces Playwriting Award. He is recipient of poetry fellowships from the Poet's House and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Vincent has an MFA in poetry from Rutgers. He teaches at Bronx Community College.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center