Yona Harvey is the author of the poetry collection, Hemming the Water, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University. Her work has been published and anthologized in many publications including A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry and The Force of What’s Possible: Accessibility and the Avant-Garde. She has received an Individual Artist grant in nonfiction from The Pittsburgh Foundation and participated in workshops and residencies at the inaugural Cave Canem retreat, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
Her research and writing in hybrid forms date back several years. She has composed, read, or collaborated on a variety of hybrid or genre-blurring projects. Some projects included producing an original, symbiosis-themed, computer-voiced poetry recording, “Into Orbit,” for Pittsburgh’s Six x Ate and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland; delivering a poetry craft talk at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on the evolution of self-perception and Aunt Jemima’s image in Crystal Williams’ poetry and prose; and most recently, exploring and researching key sites for Blood, Work, her nonfiction book in-progress about her late sister and the stigma of mental health care and services for all people.
Her personal website is yonaharvey.com.
My interest in the visual arts and creative writing ignited when I was an undergraduate student in Washington, DC. I facilitated creative writing workshops as a member of the DC WritersCorps, which poet and activist Kenneth Carroll directed. The program gave me many foundational insights about creative writing instruction, mentorship, team-teaching, collaboration, curriculum development, and self-evaluation.
What happens when we inevitably encounter difficulties we cannot overcome on our own? Every literary work is potentially inaccessible depending on the stages of a reader’s life. And creative writing, like issues of accessibility, is fluid. The lure of the difficult, hybrid, or avant-garde resides in the joys of doing one’s homework, reading, and asking for help. The acceptance of discomfort may come with many years of experience as a writer. When teaching hybrid writing, the danger of students’ perception that “anything goes” often looms. I use library research and cataloging exercises as anchors for my students, giving them freedom to experiment and “make a mess” before they begin the difficult process of editing and revising.