Sarah Gridley

Associate Professor

216 368 0854
Guilford House 106A

Other Information

Degree: MFA, University of Montana
MAT, Tufts University
BA, Harvard University

I teach poetry writing workshops at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced level. In addition, I teach topic-specific courses in poetry: mythic materials; poetic scopes; green poetics; and close studies of particular poets. I believe the posture required of any poet, at any stage of the craft, is one of inquiry. I agree with Robert Frost’s assessment, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” The poet makes the poem, and reciprocally, the poem calls up regions of perception the poet couldn’t have anticipated. I take heart in Yeats’s assurance that a poet “is never the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast.” A poem brings the poet into fuller presence, into the care (and delirium) of attention. We may bring the same bundle of accident and incoherence to a blank page that we bring to breakfast, but in entering a poem—its sounds, shapes, etymologies, and rhythms, its chance and chosen unfoldings—we learn how to make artful use of accident, and mindful response to incoherence. I teach that a good poem does not resolve confusion: it opens the reflective space in which to experience and articulate its sources and implications. As a field of action and of meta-cognition, it is one of the rare, rounded, propitious spaces in which we can both feel thinkingly and think feelingly—as my teacher Patricia Goedicke used to say. The poems I seek out as models for my students are ones that know how to praise and lament at the same time, how to speak from that place of ambivalence. Embodiment binds to a radiant love song on one side, a shadow grief on the other. More often it is not a matter of sides, more like knots. “Critics are un-tanglers; poets tangle,” A.R. Ammons is said to have told his students. With the physical poetry that surrounds us, with the fundaments and sediments of language, we tangle. We enter the fray. We wrestle with that always superior adversary: silence.

2019 Writer Magazine/Emily Dickinson Award, Poetry Society of America (judge, Paula Bohince)
2019 Green Rose Prize (judge, Forrest Gander)
2018 Cecil Hemley Award, Poetry Society of America (judge, Meena Alexander)
2011 Omnidawn Open Poetry Prize (judge, Carl Phillips)
2010 Creative Workforce Fellowship, Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.
2009 Individual Excellence Award, Ohio Arts Council

Insofar (New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2020)
Loom (Omnidawn, 2013)
Green is the Orator (University of California Press, 2010)
Weather Eye Open (University of California Press, 2005)