Posts tagged poet
Joya: AiR / poet / Andrea Read / USA
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“Having recently completed a full-length poetry collection, I knew I needed a lot of uninterrupted time immersed in nature – and silence – in order to see what might be next. I spent hours each day walking the dirt tracks that wind through almond orchards, hiking up to the peaks of the surrounding sierra, gathering objects and making sound recordings. As part of my creative practice I make artefacts – using paper, objects from the land, photographs, found language, handmade books, text from a manual typewriter – as a way of unearthing my most elusive material. While these tactile artefacts have long been an important part of my composition and revision processes, I am beginning to understand them as thought-objects in their own right.

One of these artefacts is a book-length erasure poem. What started over a year ago as a distraction from those moments when I couldn’t seem to write eventually took on a life of its own. Something about the process of erasing text one page at a time, leaving only whatever felt resonant as poetry, demanded a certain intuitive focus due to the particular limitations of erasure – namely, once you erase text, the field of possibilities changes, and condenses, instantly. The uninterrupted ´ – and the long hikes – allowed me to finish the last remaining, and difficult, pages of the project.

I am grateful for such a restorative two weeks – Simon and Donna’s hospitality, the beautifully simple accommodations, the quiet, the delicious meals, and the enlivening conversations with other artists and interns (Lucy and Maddie)”.

Andrea Read

Andrea Read’s poems have appeared most recently, or are forthcoming, in Barrow Street, Black Rabbit Quarterly, Copper Nickel, FIELD, Ilanot Review, Lily Poetry Review, Plume, The Missouri Review (online Poem-of-the-Week feature), and Tupelo Quarterly (winner of TQ11’s ‘Call & Response’ contest). Her poetry manuscript was a finalist for the Berkshire Poetry Prize.

She was a co-founder of Newforest Institute (2006-2012), an art+permaculture non-profit, where she developed forest-based conceptual artworks including The Women’s Earth Project, a community-based forest management initiative for local women; and Home Again, a handmade broom and sweeping project between Maine and New Jersey.

Andrea earned her PhD from the University of Chicago in Romance Languages and Literatures (specialising in Spanish and Latin American poetry and drama) and an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. A recipient of a National Resource Fellowship, a Tinker Foundation Grant, and an Artist’s Fellowship from the Somerville Arts Council, Andrea has taught creative writing, literature, and language at Stanford University, The University of Chicago, and elsewhere. Currently, she facilitates a weekly poetry workshop at the Jeanne Jugen Residence in Somerville. Andrea divides her time between Massachusetts and Brooks, Maine, where she and her family tend 500 acres of forest.

Joya: AiR / poet / Emily McGiffin / Canada

“My poetry and scholarly work is concerned with the nexus of landscape, society, and politics. Working in the field of postcolonial ecopoetics, my work examines human relationships with the natural environment and how these are affected by the global political economy, both historically and in the present. I am particularly concerned with decolonization and environmental justice and the ways in which environmental literature, as an activist practice, can help to examine and dismantle oppressive political systems and the environmental degradation that results.

I travelled to Joya: AiR to begin a new poetry manuscript after an inspiring research trip to the UK. My new work is a book-length poem that delves into events and experiences of British colonialism in Canada and South Africa in the early nineteenth century. I was particularly interested in coming to Joya: AiR to undertake a period of focused experimentation in a foreign, rural environment. Ordinary prosaic or lyric language is inadequate for expressing the extent of alienation and difficulties experienced by early colonists and the lasting violence and dispossession wrought on the indigenous populations they encountered. My language experiments over the past several weeks have taken me far outside of my ordinary poetic practice and I am inspired and excited by the results. I leave here with a skeleton of a manuscript, many completed poems and a direction for the work ahead.

Thanks to Joya: AiR for an excellent sojourn and to the amazing new network of friends I made during my stay”.


Emily McGiffin


Joya: AiR / writer in residence / Richard Sidy / Arizona USA

‘In the state of Arizona I am involved in non-profits in rural communities with the goals to enhance awareness and solutions for the challenges of local food security, sustainable communities, and environmental education. The main organization that I work with is Gardens for Humanity. This organization was founded by artists and poets who were moved to find solutions for creating and healing communities through education, art and gardens while teaching environmental stewardship.

For many years I have felt that we are not listening to Mother Earth. We usually talk about her from the viewpoints of science, religion, economy, environmentalism, politics. It has only been the artists, poets and naturalists who have given her voice vivid and compelling beauty, clarity and urgency.

Most of my time in Arizona is spent developing and supporting programs that impact the missions of the organization I work with. My writing is mostly non-fiction or essay. Writing poetry is a luxury for me. Therefore, I looked forward to my residency at Joya as an opportunity to focus on writing poetry that gives voice to the environment and projects a connection to place. I used my time to observe and write poetry that I call  as a whole, “The Earth Speaks to Us: Word Sketches -Discovering a Sense of Place.” To me it is important to listen to the stories that a place is telling us both from the viewpoint of nature and also from the viewpoint of those who live there.

Upon learning that I would be spending a two-week residency at Joya, I was inspired to start writing “The Earth Speaks to Us” to tell the story of where I live, that is rich in Native American culture, with influences of settlers and the Spanish conquistadores. Perhaps now I will continue that and join Andalusia and Arizona places that have many common elements.

A bonus for me was that in Joya, Simon and Donna have created a working sustainable artistic community that supports the arts and the art of living sustainably. So it was extra inspiring to actually see an example of these goals in action. This felt like a perfect fit to the areas of main focus of my life activities’.


Richard Sidy