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2023 Poetry Residency

at Bethany Arts Community

During their time on site, these poets will develop new works while engaging with the local community.

Resident Poets

Nik Anderson, Iris Dunkle, Melissa Ferrer Civil, David Groff, Grace MacNair, Tyler Mills, L Peterson

Bethany Arts Community presents our 3rd annual poetry residency. Honoring the deep and long connection between the arts and poetry, where artists have inspired poets, poets have inspired artists, and the two have created hand in hand, we are pleased to welcome these poets to Bethany!

Nik Anderson

Nik Anderson

Poet

About Residency

Residency Plan: My residency plan is to spend time composing the musical score for my already written poetry play, The Dystopia of Normalcy, as well as writing the poetry for the companion piece Comeunity Rising. Dystopia is a sprial breakdown of identity, oppression and unearthing the root of traumas. Comeunity is a spiral expanse of community, the world we want to create, and the roots of pleasure. 

Bio: Nikomeh Anderson, also known as Sir Nik, (They/he) is a BK/Lenape land based Multidisciplinary Performer + Content Creator, Teaching Artist + Holistic Facilitator, and Erotic Creative + Intimacy Captain. They are an Event + Creative Project Producer with their intentional healing justice Black, Trans+Queer, Neurodiverse+Disabled Artist Collective house: Community Oasis Igniting Liberation or COIL. Their primary artistic mediums are movement, poetry, acting, music/singing (folk/rock bari-tenor), and energy work. Holistic Embodiment, Consent, Healing+Disability justice, Anti-Capitalist Colonialism, Climate Justice, Pleasure Activism and Liberation thru Relationships + Community Care are central to their creative mission. https://linktr.ee/wickedsirnik  

Iris Dunkle

Iris Dunkle

Poet

About Residency

Residency Plan: During the BAC Poetry Residency I’ll be finishing a book-length erasure of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath: editing poems, and creating multi-medium erasures of Steinbeck’s pages. My erasure of this book challenges our androcentric ideas about the West and brings back the voices of author Sanora Babb and my grandmother, Marilouise Kirby. Babb’s important Dust Bowl novel, Whose Names Are Unknown was under contract with Random House in 1939 when it was suddenly canceled due to the sudden success of Steinbeck’s book. Random House didn’t believe the market could support two books about the Dust Bowl. What’s worse is that Steinbeck read Babb’s notes for her book while visiting the FSA camp where she worked helping Dust Bowl refugees and he used many of her ideas. My grandmother came from Oklahoma during the height of the Dust Bowl. Over the course of the last three years, as I’ve written the first full-length biography about Sanora Babb and reclaimed her story, this erasure has also helped me also reclaim my family’s story. 

Bio:

Iris Jamahl Dunkle is an award-winning literary biographer and poet who was the former Poet Laureate of Sonoma County, CA. Her latest books include the biography Charmian Kittredge London: Trailblazer, Author, Adventurer (University of Oklahoma Press, 2020) and her fourth poetry collection West : Fire : Archive (The Center for Literary Publishing, 2021). She is currently writing a biography about the author Sanora Babb which will be published by the University of California Press, 2024. Dunkle lives in Northern California and teaches at Napa Valley College and UC Davis. She is the Poetry and Translation Director at the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. 

Artist’s Social Media: 

www.irisjamahldunkle.com / Facebook – @iris.dunkle / Instagram – @irisdunkle/ Twitter – @irjohnso 

Melissa Ferrer Civil

Melissa Ferrer Civil

Poet

About Residency

Residency Plan: During my stay at BAC, I will be working on a manuscript that is a fight on the page. It is a verifiable account and recount of the impacts of white supremacy upon the black body and mind. Through poems and essays I’m exploring both the cost and necessity of vulnerability in a world so intent upon wounding. It is a love letter, a plea, a reclamation, a call to remembrance, and not a bargaining. I’m looking forward to being in solitude in the company of others who are fixated on the work before them. Those who yield to the nature of slowing down that is necessary to tease out what is asking, begging, seeking, and knocking to be heard. I’m excited to step away from the racket to edit and record what I heard in the midst of cacophony. And perhaps get a little time in nature to remember the solid ground upon which we all stand. 

Bio:

Melissa Ferrer Civil (she/they) is a poet, organizer, educator and musician living in Kansas City. In their work Melissa seeks to stir up conversations internally and externally that leads to reconciliation, healing and growth. Sometimes delving into darkness, Melissa remains adamant about the tenacity of light. Her work reckons with institutions of oppression and supremacy, mental health disorders, and the divine. You can find their work in Rising Phoenix Review, Voicemail poems, Fahmidan Journal, Zin Daily and elsewhere. They were longlisted for the 2021 Palette Poetry Emerging Poet Prize. She is an on again, off again, Poetry MFA Candidate at Randolph College. You can find out more about them at www.melissaferrerand.com. 

David Groff

David Groff

Poet

About Residency

Residency Plan: In the book I’m working on, Messenger, I explore my experience as a survivor of the AIDS era, using as a touchstone my relationship over the years with my first lover, Mike Messenger, and what his story represents to me: the evolving, continuing cost of the closet and the persistent and pervasive trauma of HIV, and what those syndromes have to say to us all. I also write further about my enduring relationship with my husband, how the two of us feel like we’re in a threesome with mortality. I want to bring to new readers the reality, meanings, and representation of the life and death issues in queer lives. As a poet and a person, I can feel like the messenger who escaped to tell the story. I find that executorship to be a summons, a burden, and a metaphor. I’m working to discover how all of us (of every identity) can thrive in bodies weighted with historical memory—bodies that are vital, possessed of voices that need to be heard. 

Bio:

David Groff is the author of Live in Suspense, forthcoming this spring from Trio House Press. His previous book Clay, also published by Trio House, was chosen by Michael Waters for the Louise Bogan Award. His first collection, Theory of Devolution (University of Illinois Press), was selected by Mark Doty for the National Poetry Series. With Philip Clark, he edited Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS (Alyson); with Jim Elledge, he edited Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners (University of Wisconsin Press), winner of a Lambda Literary Award. An independent book editor, he teaches poetry, nonfiction, and publishing in the MFA creative writing program at the City College of New York. 

Artist’s Social Media: 

www.davidgroff.com/ Instagram — @_davidgroff / Facebook — David Groff 

Grace MacNair

Grace MacNair

Poet

About Residency

Residency Plan: During my time at BAC, I’ll be writing and revising the final poems in a manuscript that merges archival research into reproductive health with my clinical and personal experiences as a healthcare professional. My poems grapple with the biopolitical power organizing reproductive bodies and consider the lives and writings of historical figures in midwifery/obstetrics and material culture related to reproductive health. My research juxtaposes the seemingly distant past with our current moment (abortion is now illegal or heavily restricted in at least 13 states), troubling ethical frameworks and notions of progress. The goal of my poetry is to move within and beyond grief to examine history and challenge what poems—and bodies—can be and what they can hold. 

Bio:

Grace MacNair is a poet, teacher, and healthcare professional. Born and raised in North Carolina, she currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, and holds an MFA from Hunter College. Grace has received residencies and fellowships from Ragdale, Marble House Project, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Monson Arts, and the Carolyn Moore Writers House. Grace was selected by Yona Harvey as the winner of Radar Poetry’s 2021 Coniston Prize and by Safia Elhillo as the winner of Palette Poetry’s 2022 Emerging Poet Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, Poetry Northwest, The Missouri Review, Frontier Poetry, Best New Poets 2022, and elsewhere. Grace’s micro-chapbook, Even As They Curse Us, is available from Bull City Press. 

Artist’s Social Media: 

gracemacnair.com / Instagram — @ecarg_enna_m / Twitter — @GraceMacNair 

Tyler Mills

Tyler Mills

Poet

About Residency

Residency Plan: At the Bethany Arts Community, I will write a short sequence of new poems and polish the remaining poems of BIG BAD, my third full-length volume of poems in progress. The manuscript’s title poem activates the metaphor of the wolf from fairy tales to investigate the lurking dangers, lies, evils, disinterests, and distractions in our everyday lives. The poems in BIG BAD find beauty and sorrow in the lives we live now, within the context of corporate greed, historical destruction, mothering, our ecological crisis, and the stories of violence imprinted on the body. Visual art inspires my poetic practice, and the Sculpture Park will be an inspiring creative and meditative space for me while I work on the drafts of poems in my book and grow the ideas that I have for the remaining poems. At the Bethany Arts Community, I will write new poems about mothering during climate change, where some poems will engage with fairy tales while threading data about our coastal climate into the lyric speaker’s voice. 

Bio:

Tyler Mills (she/her) is the author of City Scattered (Snowbound Chapbook Award, Tupelo Press 2022), Hawk Parable (Akron Poetry Prize, University of Akron Press 2019), Tongue Lyre (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, Southern Illinois University Press 2013), and co-author with Kendra DeColo of Low Budget Movie (Diode Editions Chapbook Prize, Diode Editions 2021). Her memoir, The Bomb Cloud, received a Literature Grant from the Café Royal Foundation NYC and is forthcoming from Unbound Edition Press in 2024. A poet and essayist, her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New Republic, The Believer, and Poetry, and her essays in AGNI, Brevity, Copper Nickel, River Teeth, and The Rumpus. She lived and taught in New Mexico four years, most recently serving as the Burke Scholar for the Doel Reed Center for the Arts in Taos, NM, and now teaches for Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family and can be found at www.tylermills.com. 

Artist’s Social Media: 

www.tylermills.com / Instagram — @TylerMPoetry / Facebook — Tyler Mills 

L Peterson

L Peterson

Poet

About Residency

Residency Plan: Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, Stage 3. In May 2021, my youngest niece, Nora, was diagnosed with severe HIE shortly after birth. She requires round-the-clock care, which my sister resigned from her teaching position to provide. As a special education teacher, I learn daily from my students, and I celebrate neurodiversity. Nora’s life has reinforced my desire to better understand the beautiful, complex organ inside the human skull. During my residency at Bethany Arts Community, I will continue my work on a collection of poetry about Nora, her older sisters, and my sister. I will research the human brain and the brains of other species and will incorporate the information in new poems. I believe that the grounds of BAC will prove ideal for exploring, reading, and writing, so there is a strong chance I will draft additional poems related to other interests, including current events, gender, and the natural world. I am grateful for the opportunity. 

Bio:

L Peterson is a middle school special education teacher with a BA in creative writing (poetry) and a Master’s in education. L lives, teaches, and writes in New York. 

National Endowment for the Arts
The New York State Council on the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts

Residencies and programs at Bethany Arts Community are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor’s office and the New York State Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Westchester, Humanities NY, Westchester Community Foundation and numerous individual donors.

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