Tracking/Teaching: On Documentary Poeticscurated by Joseph Harringtonwith Allison Cobb, Donovan Kuhio Colleps, Camille T. Dungy, Adrian Matejka, Craig Santos Perez & Kaia Sandand an afterword by Philip Metres
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What happens when the historian thinks of herself as a writer, as a poet? Or when the poet turns historical researcher/writer? Some of the foremost documentary poets of today discuss how to combine a commitment to facts with a commitment to the imagination.
AN EXCERPT FROM ALLISON COBB
“The word document in English first meant to teach, from the Latin docere: to show. For me, documentary poetry has more to do with learning than teaching. . . . I [prefer] the phrase “investigative poetry,” which in literal terms means to be in the footprints, to follow the track (the Latin vestigium: path or trace).”
Allison Cobb is the author of Born2, about her hometown of Los Alamos, and Green-Wood, about a nineteenthcentury cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Cobb is a 2015 Djerassi Resident Artist and a 2014 Playa Resident Artist. She received a 2011 Individual Artist Fellowship award from the Oregon Arts Commission and was a 2009 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow. She works for the Environmental Defense Fund. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she co-curates The Switch reading series.
Donovan Kūhiō Colleps is a Kanaka Maoli writer from ‘Ewa, O‘ahu. He is an instructor and PhD student at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa.
Camille T. Dungy is the author of Smith Blue, Suck on the Marrow and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison. She edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry and coedited the From the Fishouse poetry anthology. Her honors include an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, a California Book Award silver medal and a fellowship from the NEA. Dungy is currently a professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.
Joseph Harrington is the author of Things Come On (an amneoir), a Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection; Poetry and the Public; and the chapbooks Goodnight Whoever’s Listening (Essay Press), Earth Day Suite (Beard of Bees), and Of Some Sky (Bedouin, forthcoming). Harrington is the recipient of a Millay Colony residency and a Fulbright fellowship.
Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil’s Garden, winner of the 2002 New York/New England Award, and Mixology, a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series. His most recent collection, The Big Smoke, was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award, and was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize. He is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lannan Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Philip Metres is the author of a number of books and chapbooks, including Sand Opera (2015), A Concordance of Leaves (Diode Editions, 2013), abu ghraib arias (Flying Guillotine, 2011), To See the Earth and Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941. His work has garnered two NEA fellowships, the Watson Fellowship, five Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Beatrice Hawley Award, two Arab American Book Awards, the Creative Workforce Fellowship, the Cleveland Arts Prize and the PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant. He is professor of English at John Carroll University in Cleveland.
Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). He is the co-founder of Ala Press, co-star of the poetry album Undercurrent and author of three collections of poetry: from Unincorporated Territory [hacha], from Unincorporated Territory [saina] (2010) and from Unincorporated Territory [guma’]. He has been a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize for Poetry and the winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award. He is an associate professor in the English Department at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa.
Kaia Sand is the author of A Tale of Magicians Who Puffed Up Money that Lost its Puff (Tinfish Press, forthcoming), Remember to Wave (Tinfish Press) and interval (Edge Books, named Small Press Traffic Book of the Year), and co-author with Jules Boykoff of Landscapes of Dissent: Guerrilla Poetry and Public Space. In collaboration with artist Garrick Imatani, she was artist-in-residence at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center from 2013–2015 (a public-art commission by the Regional Arts and Culture Council). She will hold an artist residency at Largo das Artes in Rio de Janeiro during the fall of 2015, creating a textile poetry project, Pano Quemado.