Recently, I signed up for a workshop course entitled The Day After: Poems of Peace, Provocation, and Witness, taught by Meg Day in Salt Lake City. At the time, I was not yet familiar with Meg or her work. It’s been a remarkable experience, as I told a friend of mine, “just being in the room with her.” Her teaching style is one of leading to truth, rather than presenting doctrine. She asks more questions than she answers, and without knowing her too well yet, I’d venture to say she is one of the most passionate and compassionate people I’ve met.
The workshop is centered around the 70th anniversary of the 1945 US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and is helping poets prepare meaningful work to share at a showcase sponsored by UCAN (Utah Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) on August 7, 2015. Meg's curriculum for the workshop is helping the participating poets examine the past, discuss and discover the responsibility of the poet, and explore how the written word can affect personal, local, and global healing. Initial workshop discussions focused on the increased attention to poetry and other creative writing forms almost immediately after the atomic bomb incidents. There appears to be a dire need for humans to connect, empathize, and understand their place in humanity when such devastating events occur.
Workshop exercises also include several minutes of free writing, a stream of consciousness brainstorm of sorts, to describing images, and specific prompts, all guided by Meg's soothing voice and reassuring approach. After three five-hour sessions, held every other Saturday in March and April, poets and other writers came away with pages of words to work with and at least one new poem to present at the showcase in August. For the last session, Meg will coach and help poets enhance their spoken word techniques to deliver their new poetry effectively.
Meg is currently a PhD candidate, Steffensen-Cannon Fellow, & Point Foundation Scholar in Poetry & Disability Poetics at the University of Utah. You can read her work in several notable journals, but specifically, Vinyl Poetry published three of her poems in their July 2014 issue, which are not to be missed. The only disappointment is clicking the Next button and discovering you've already read all three poems. (This is when I quickly ordered her most recent full-length book of poems, entitled Last Psalm at Sea Level.)
The first poem in Vinyl Poetry, "Aubade for an Accomplice" stands up to a similarly titled poem by Amy Lowell. Meg's powerful line breaks create a separate poem in each individual line, and its certainly a challenge to read the last stanza only once. Her strong, unique metaphors bring you back to the lines again and again:
You have my permission not to love me --
you, who have gone where it is always winter
& returned with the salt of stars in your mouth,
your fists full of falling. You can steal me away
instead, a lullaby at the speed of sound. Please:
swing low, Supernova, & come to carry me home.
Read more of Meg’s poems online here: Vinyl Poetry, Volume 10, July 2014.
Meg’s poetry has provided her with several notable awards. Most recently, she is the 2015-2016 recipient of the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship. Past recipients include May Swenson and Elizabeth Bishop, among other amazing poets. As part of the scholarship, Meg will be traveling outside of North America for a year to continue her research and writing.
You can also still catch Meg at the AWP Conference before she begins her travel:
Friday April 10 @ 1pm
Book & Issue signing at
South Dakota Review #AWP15 (Booth 736)
Friday April 10 @ 2pm
Chapbook Signing, We Can’t Read
at Gazing Grain Press (Book 1308)
Friday April 10 @ 4pm
Barrow Street Press Poetry Reading and Performance
@ The Gamut Gallery