I’m a writer, educator, instructional/learning designer, and graphic artist. Among my professional and literary passions is exploring the intersections of text and image, and have a special interest in literature of trauma and witness. My attention to the collaborations possible between text, sound, image, and audience also informs my work as an instructional designer. As an educator, I have 15+ years of experience teaching diverse students in face-to-face, online, and blended learning formats in a wide range of settings including high school, public and private colleges, an honors college, community writing arts centers, private groups, and individual consultations. I believe writers participate in shaping culture through telling stories, and courses I teach include creative writing as a social art practice and environmental writing. I also interact with fields such as narrative medicine and transformative language arts that link writing with wellness. Research studies show that exposure to the arts enhances one’s sense of well-being, academic performance, and much more.
I’m the author of five books, including SISYPHUSINA (PANK, 2020), winner of the Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize 2021, and how do i net thee (Salmon Poetry, 2018), a National Poetry Series Finalist, and two chapbooks. My poetry, prose, and visual and cross-genre writing appear widely in venues such as Poetry, American Poetry Review, Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, New American Writing, Brooklyn Rail, Lana Turner, Academy of American Poem-a-Day Series (Poets.org), and NPR’s “Artists Reflect on 9/11.” I’m the recipient of awards including an Academy of American Poets’ Award, Poetry Society of America’s Cecil Hemley Award, and Poetry Society of America’s Lyric Poem Award. My work has been supported by fellowships and residencies including from the Tanner Center for the Humanities and MacDowell Arts Colony. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, I hold a doctorate in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Utah. I’ve lived in the Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, and South, and now live in upstate NY and am Special Features Editor at Tarpaulin Sky. In 2021, I received certificates as a teaching artist from the Lifetime Arts Creative Aging Foundations, co-sponsored by the NY Council of the Arts, and the Teaching Artist Project 2021 Summer Institute hosted by the Community-Word Project based in NYC.
More details about my teaching, publications, and areas of expertise are available below and elsewhere on this site, as well as on my Linkedin profile here. You can also read testimonials from former and current students, colleagues, and clients on my Linkedin profile. I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org, and welcome queries regarding my availability, rates, or other details in regard to teaching, writing, and course design, coaching, and individual one-on-ones and manuscript consultations.
In addition to semester-length academic writing courses, I teach semester-length creative writing workshops in all genres and at all levels to pre-teens, teens, young adults, and adults. Having taught online before the pandemic, I was able to shift quickly to teaching online exclusively and enjoy expanding as a learning experience designer.
For seven years prior to Summer 2020, I was Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communications and Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where I taught writing and literature to primarily STEM students, and received faculty recognition awards twice. Before then, I taught as the Writer-in-Residence at The New College of Florida in Sarasota for Spring 2012 (Poetry) and Spring 2013 (Fiction). Currently, I teach one-day, two-day, weekly, and monthly poetry and creative nonfiction workshops with different themes & craft focuses privately and at writing and arts centers throughout the country such as the Word Barn in Exeter, NH, Hudson Valley Writer’s Center in Upstate NY, St. August Occasion Retreat in Clinton, NY, Iowa City Poetry, the International Women Writers’ Guild, and Gemini Ink, and teach Blazing Creative Writing Workshops to K–12 students. In Fall 2022, I’m teaching an advanced poetry workshop as the Visiting Poet at the University of South Dakota online and in-person. I’ve been a guest writer at many colleges and give readings across the country, and love to be invited as a guest writer and/or reader!
I’m the author of five full-length books: Finalist for the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award, BLACK SEEDS ON A WHITE DISH (Shearsman, 2011); Short-listed for Utah’s 13 Byte Book Award, DOOR OF THIN SKINS (CavanKerry Press, 2013); Finalist for the National Poetry Series and APR/Honickman Awards, HOW DO I NET THEE (Salmon Poetry, 2018); THE SUN A BLAZING ZERO (Lavender Ink/Diálogos, 2019); and SISYPHUSINA (PANK BOOKS, 2020), winner of the Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize. I’m also the author of two chapbooks, LEAF WEATHER (Tilt Press, 2009; re-printed by Shearsman, 2011), and FLOUNDERS (Essay Press, 2016).
My books have been favorably reviewed in many literary magazines including American Book Review, Rain Taxi, Boston Review, Rumpus, Georgia Review, Colorado Review, Rattle, Tarpaulin Sky, Diagram, CutBank, Pleiades, Fourth Genre, Brooklyn Rail, and Denver Quarterly. My first book, black seeds on white dish, was featured in Poets & Writers‘ annual 10 Debut Poets issue. Interviews with me about my books have been featured in venues such as The Rumpus. Ploughshares, Waxwing, and Rain Taxi.
My poetry, prose, visual and cross-genre writing appears in many journals including Poetry, American Poetry Review, Iowa Review, New American Writing, Cincinnati Review, Plume, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, Lana Turner, Idaho Review, jublat, and Brooklyn Rail, and featured in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series (Poets.org), NPR, Poetry Daily, and Verse Daily. I’m the recipient of an Academy of American Poets’ Prize, The Poetry Society of America’s Lyric Poem and Cecil Hemley Memorial Awards, Electronic Poetry Review’s Discovery Award, and Painted Bride Quarterly’s Poetry Prize, and also the recipient of a Tanner Center for the Humanities Fellowship and residencies at MacDowell Arts Colony, Squaw Valley Writers’ Community, Ragdale Foundation, and Vermont Studio Center.
Before returning to school for graduate studies, I worked freelance and full-time positions in NYC as a graphic artist, typesetter, and editor in publishing and advertising, and was an Art Director at Grey Global Group for seven years where I worked mainly on entertainment accounts. I hold an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Utah. As an active member in a wide literary community, I’ve served as an editor at several literary magazines including as Reviews Editor at Drunken Boat where I also curated DB blog’s bi-weekly feature, “What I’m Reading Now…,” from 2011-2016, and am now Special Features Editor at Tarpaulin Sky where I continue to curate this feature.
I’ve taught literature, expository writing, and all genres of creative writing to diverse children and adults of all ages in a wide range of settings including privately, public schools, colleges, and community art centers, and am expanding as a teaching artist in the healthcare field. I currently work as a freelance instructional/learning designer, educator, writer, and editor.
I talked about my second book, a hybrid memoir, the door of thin skins, at the Chauttauqua Literary Festival 2019 on the panel, “Reclaiming Voice: The Recuperative Promise of Poetry,” this summer. I talked about this topic from personal and artistic standpoints, including craft-wise. Among the things I discussed are how I was able to work through the challenges of composing a work of art to give expression to a topic that encounters and provokes much resistance, the necessity and benefits of reclaiming voice as a human and artist, and the ongoing work of this book. “door of thin skins is a perfect title for Shira Dentz’s latest work. In this fever dream of a book, Dentz’s language is like a spirit who can pass through the scrims of time and perspective, but not unscathed. These poems are the toll. She sings what fails to kill us.” —Cornelius Eady
You can find me at The Academy of American Poets at Poets.org
You can also find me at Linkedin
“Shira Dentz on SISYPHUSINA“ at Poetry Society of America
Read Ruben Queseda’s interview with me about SISYPHUSINA at Poetry Today at Kenyon Review
Read Kelly Lydick’s interview with me in the Fall 2019 print issue of Rain Taxi Review of Books
Read John Keene, Poems: Shira Dentz & Robert Hayden
Read rob mclennan’s interview with me here
Read Xin Koh Xin Tian’s interview with me at Ploughshares here
Read Aimee Herman’s interview with me at great weather for MEDIA here
Read Stacy Kidd’s interview with me in The Rumpus here
Read Nin Andrew’s interview with me on CavanKerry Press’ blog here
Read Statement of Poetics in Poet-of-the-Month feature at Poetrynet.org here
Read Pepper Luboff’s interview with me in OmniVerse here
“Sisyphusina,“ Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Poets. org
“a woman all about love yesterday,“ Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Poets. org
“spoke,” Verse Daily
“patriarch sky,” Poetry Daily
“Blue Skies,” NPR
“Let the possum go,” Verse Daily
“Mango hats stood out from the rest,” Poetry Magazine, Poetry Foundation
“At the End of the Day,” Poetry Magazine, Poetry Foundation
“Sisyphusina,” A broadside is available for sale at Reality Beach here
“Casual Wind,” Verse Daily
“spattered measure,” Plume
An excerpt from Frances Cannon’s graphic review of SISYPHUSINA, “Profound Asymmetry” in Poetry Northwest. The full graphic review can be read here
A reading from SISYPHUSINA (PANK Books, 2020) for National Poetry Month for Tina Cane’s
“Poetry Is Bread Reading Series”:
A visual poem, “SCALE,” previously published in POETRY and as a broadside by Wells’ College Book Arts Center, and appears online at the Poetry Foundation here and in my book the sun a blazing zero (Lavender Ink/Diálogos, 2019), available for purchase here, SPD, Amazon, and select bookstores.
A video-poem of “Saidst” that visual artist Kathy High and I collaborated on composing and that’s part of my book SISYPHUSINA: