Lesson No. 2: Contemporary Poetry: Sensuality & Shape with Sarah Herrington

The Body of The Poem

Whenever I get stuck in my own writing (pretty much no matter what genre I’m working in), I turn toward reading poetry.  I have a well-worn Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry I love for its breadth of work and compact package, and I’ll open to any page and just begin reading, feeling, being with the bodies of other people’s poems.  So I share this with you……when you need kindling for your own poetic fire, reach toward the sparks of others who have written in the past.

I’m including a fun list of poem-kindling below.  Let’s feel the light and heat of poems!

As with last week, study the language of the excerpts. What do you like? What stands out to you? What don’t you like?  All of this is useful information.  Maybe even notice some ideas or words in the poems that can be used as writing prompts for your own work!

Mocking Bird Hotel by Valzhyna Mort 

Jean-Paul Belmond ” ”

Touch Gallery: Joan of Arc BY MARY SZYBIST

Honey/Manila Portfolio by FARNOOSH FATHI

Two Poems by Molly Gaudry

Thunderbride by Mark Bibbins

From Euphoria by Sina Queyras

From Mercury by Ariana Reines

My Diary by Stephanie Beger

Poems by Kristina Marie Darling

Poem by J. Michael Martinez

Verguenzaby Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Cunt Norton by Dodie Bellam

Critical Essays:  Read up on these, too!  Looking at poetry a different way, through exploration in essays.

Collected Body by Valzhyna Mort
Pornography & Literature, with Dodie Bellamy


Writing Assignment

This week, pick one of the following prompts and write a poem!  If you want, try both prompts and send work my way……

1)Your body is a sacred shape.

How does your body connect you to your understanding of any of the following words?

“the Divine”

“the Universe”


In this week’s writing, explore any moments you’ve felt of connection between your individual body and the larger world and/or your belief system.  Is the body a part of whole of the cosmos?  What can we learn about the larger world through looking at one’s individual shape?

2) Inside/Outside

Consider your body from both inhabiting it (inside) and how either you yourself view it or how others view it (outside).  Discuss what is destabilizing about the experience of being in a body that is also viewed from the outside.



I hope you’ll head to the forums with ideas about these poems.

  • Which poems do you respond to the most, and why?
  • How do you think these poets encounter sex and body in their work?
  • Do you think form is as important as language?


Sarah Herrington, FacultySarah Herrington’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Writer’s Digest and she was named a Poet to Watch by Oprah Magazine. She is the author of a collection of poetry, Always Moving (Bowery Books, 2011) and several nonfiction books, including Om Schooled (Addriya Press, 2012), and Essential Yoga (Fair Winds Press, 2013). In addition to writing, she is an advocate for mindfulness and creativity and is the founder and lead facilitator of OM Schooled Teacher Trainings. Sarah is a graduate of New York University’s English and Creative Writing programs and holds an MFA in Creative Writing through Lesley University.  She is a grateful member of the Bowery Poetry Club community and has worked for Gotham Writers’ Workshop and Girls Write Now. She divides her time between New York and California.


Submit for Individualized Feedback

[displayProduct  id=”52526″ ]