Do happy poems exist? If they do, can they be as good as the poems that wreck us? Can a happy poem wreck us? And how can we avoid sentimentality or, is that a risk we just need to take? In this generative workshop with acclaimed poet Chen Chen, we’ll look at Ross Gay’s essay “Joy Is Such a Human Madness” as a compass for our discussion and a starting point for writing about/from/through happiness, joy, and pleasure. Within the genre of happy poems, we’ll think about poems that celebrate love, sex, community, and connection of various kinds. Come prepared to engage in jubilant experimentation.
Chen Chen is the author of the poetry collection When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award. His work appears in many publications, including Poetry and three editions of Best American Poetry. He currently teaches for the low-residency MFA programs at New England College and Stonecoast.