I was looking at the latest (May 2013) poetry trading card from Fact-Simile Editions and was reminded of something Dean Young said in The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction (Graywolf Press, 2010): “…It is…worth entertaining the notion that the least important time in any workshop is when your own work is being talked about. It’s called ‘Poetry Workshop,’ not ‘Me Workshop,’ after all.” This is a quote that I’ve repeated a few times in my own workshops. Last semester when I was going through some student assignments–a required review of any poetry reading on campus–I realized how valuable this sentiment is. The first sentence of a student composition began: “I find it very difficult to relate poetry to my everyday life unless I am the author.” Yes: Poetry Workshop, not Me Workshop.
Michael Leong is the author of the poetry books e.s.p., Cutting Time with a Knife, Who Unfolded My Origami Brain?, and Words on Edge. His creative work has been anthologized in THE &NOW AWARDS 2: The Best Innovative Writing, Best American Experimental Writing 2018, and Bettering American Poetry, Volume 3. His co-translation, with Ignacio Infante, of Vicente Huidobro’s long poem Sky-Quake: Tremor of Heaven is forthcoming from co•im•press in late 2019. His critical monograph Contested Records: The Turn to Documents in Contemporary North American Poetry is forthcoming from the University of Iowa Press in May 2020. He has received grants from the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts.