Lit Fest 2024: Visiting Authors at a Glance-Poetry

Lit Fest 2024: Visiting Authors at a Glance—Poetry

Check out the summaries below to learn more about this year's all-star lineup of poets.

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield’s work encompasses a large range of influences, drawing from the sciences as well as the world’s literary, intellectual, artistic, and spiritual traditions. (1)
Her ten poetry books include the newly published The Asking: New & Selected PoemsLedgerThe BeautyGiven Sugar, Given Salt, and After, named a “best book of 2006” by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and England’s Financial Times.
Her work appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, PoetryOrion, and ten editions of The Best American Poems. In 2004, Jane Hirshfield was awarded the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by The Academy of American Poets, an honor formerly held by such poets as Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop.

At Lit Fest, Jane will be teaching a Weekend Advanced Poetry Intensive focused on helping participants develop an expanded repertory of process, freedom, and direction.

We asked her a few questions to give you the inside scoop on her classes. 

What has been inspiring you lately in your work? "I'm writing most often now into the crisis of the biosphere. That subject, and also the crisis of our social compact with one another, have become central to my heart and to my writing as the urgency grows ever clearer. But any subject can catch my pen. One recent poem came from running across a medieval recipe for cooking Damascus-style turnips, another from a scientific study about the consequences of grief and empathy in fruit flies. Another title is “Today, My Hope Is Vertical.” I think it's the poet's job—I know it's my own wish—to be more and more surprised by what might summon a poem into being." 

What’s your workshop style, and what can people expect at Lit Fest? "The phrase, “Lattice as Ladder,” points toward what we'll be doing: engaging with a set of different writing invitations and structures that let you begin, sustain, or turn a poem toward making some new discovery. This won't be a line-editing type workshop. Mostly we'll be writing, sharing, admiring. And yet, inside alert writing and listening awareness, craft knowledge increases. Each workshop participant will leave with a set of started (perhaps even near-finished) new poems. There'll also be some time kept open for discussion."


Mark Doty

Mark Doty is known for his "elegant, intelligent verse" and has been compared to James MerrillWalt Whitman and C.P. Cavafy. A long-time resident of Provincetown, Massachusetts, Doty teaches at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He is the author of nine books of poetry, including Deep Lane (April 2015), Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which won the 2008 National Book Award, and My Alexandria, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the T.S. Eliot Prize in the UK. He is also the author of four memoirs: the New York Times-bestselling What Is the GrassDog YearsFirebird, and Heaven’s Coast, as well as a book about craft and criticism, The Art of Description: World Into Word. Doty has received two NEA fellowships, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, a Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Award, and the Witter Byner Prize.

At Lit Fest, Mark is teaching Raising the Stakes, a weeklong advanced poetry workshop on how to complicate, deepen, and enlarge our poems.


Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Rowan Ricardo Phillips is a multi-award winning poet, nonfiction writer, scholar, screenwriter, and translator. He is the author of The Ground, Heaven, Living Weapon, Silver, When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness, and The Circuit: A Tennis Odyssey. Phillips has been the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Nicolás Guillén Outstanding Book Award, the PEN/Osterweil Prize for Poetry, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the GLCA New Writers Award, and the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sportswriting. He lives in New York City and Barcelona.

At Lit Fest, Rowan is teaching From Great Pain, a Formal Feeling, a weeklong advanced poetry workshop on poetic form.

What has been inspiring you lately in your work? “Art is always a vital inspiration to me, and I often think particularly through music. Lately, I've been reflecting on my new poetry collection, Silver, through musical expression, alchemizing the book into another form. Consider it a tour of the horizon of what made the book and an opportunity to get to know the work in a different way. Here's what I made: you can listen to it either via Spotify or Apple Music.” 

What’s your workshop style, and what can people expect at Lit Fest? “The best workshop style is an adaptive one. I have many styles, not one––we contain multitudes, after all. That said, the core of my workshops tend to function as part seminar, part craft class, part studio workshop. The focus is on engaging the challenges presented by the form and content of the poem's shared with the workshop. We will immerse ourselves in exercises designed to expand our imaginative horizons. The questions we set out to explore, both collectively and in our own creative contexts, include: What's visible on the page? How can we understand the ambitions of the work? Where can we locate possibility, energy, interest? Where do we find hesitations, unresolved questions, gaps? These are but some of the inquiries that will guide our conversations. Yet our main objectives throughout will be to seek, study, and strive for precision of language; to acknowledge that intensive reading is at the core of the writing process; and to understand that revision is part of and not apart from the art of writing.”