Teaching Challenging Poems: Race, Appropriation and the Elegy

An Online Workshop with Paisley Rekdal (University of Utah)





Part of the Paths Forward for the Humanities Series

How have certain contemporary elegies by white poets verged, at times, into cultural appropriation, and with what specific results for readers and students in the classroom? By closely reading Michael Dickman’s controversial “Ferry Road” against Frank O’Hara’s canonical poems “The Day Lady Died” and “A Step Away From Them,” as well as William Meredith’s problematic “Effort at Speech,” this workshop explored the complex, and sometimes incendiary ways that three contemporary poets have depicted race, racism and their own identity formation.


Paisley Rekdal is the author of ten books of poetry and nonfiction. A former recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, she is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Utah and is the state’s poet laureate. She lives in Salt Lake City.


Image Credits: Rekdal Photo: Austen Diamond

Please register to access the Zoom recording