Walters, Wendy

wendy walters

Wendy S. Walters

PhD, Cornell University.  English Language and Literature, Cultural and Performance Studies

MFA, Cornell University.  Creative Writing, Poetry

BA, University of Michigan.  English and African American Studies

Associate Professor, Literary Studies


When I began my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, I spent much of my free time writing poetry while investing my academic energies in the emerging, interdisciplinary field of African American and Latina/o Studies.  I held the notion that poetry was made for the expression of emotions while the scholarly essay was the appropriate repository for political and the critical thought.

That way of thinking began to change after I finished my M.F.A. in Poetry at Cornell. My course of study for the Ph.D. in English Language and Literature led me to the work of Caribbean scholar and literary theorist Édouard Glissant, whose vision of history granted the imagination power in confronting the unknowable, the absence of fact.  Glissant’s writing, in addition to the racially charged plays of Adrienne Kennedy and the performances of black identity by Adrian Piper led me to pursue the study of African American culture as a subject of both history and mythology.   My approach was further inspired by the plays of Anton Chekov and Henrik Ibsen, who each in his own way, managed to document a time of economic upheaval through humorous and personality-driven characters.  I loved these writers in part for the aesthetic risks their works took as well as for their unabashed embrace of poetry as a means of conveying historical complexity.

I also took courses in urban planning and the history of technology alongside offerings in Marxist theory, Russian formalism and epistemology.  After discovering Black Metropolis, by Horace Cayton and St. Clair Drake, my research interests in data and reportage were awakened.  I turned to studying familiar urban spaces as texts.  Using the groundbreaking language of performance studies theorists such as Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Richard Schechner and Rebecca Schneider as well as critical geographers Mike Davis, David Harvey and Norman Klein, I began to approach the reading of “spaces” as well as texts.  Poets that have been likewise influential include: Nikki Giovanni, Rita Dove, Aimé Césaire, Rene Char, Tomas Tranströmer, N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Scalapino, Sandra Cisneros, Elizabeth Bishop, and a bunch of other people you will read if you take my classes.

I was fortunate to begin my teaching career at art schools, where studio practice was an implicit part of the pedagogy.  The influence of the art studio affects the way I teach creative writing in two key ways: (1) I encourage my students to interrogate their writing process throughout the semester through public and private exercises designed to challenge their ambitions for their work; and (2) I teach creative writing as a methodology for critical thinking, which demands all of the expected commitments to research, dialogue, formal invention and inter-textuality.

Courses Taught:
  • Intro to Poetry
  • Intermediate Poetry
  • Advanced Poetry
  • Senior Seminar, Poetry
  • Reading for Writers: Poetry/Essay
  • Reading for Writers: Poetry/Plays
  • First Year Seminar, The Fate of the Pure Woman: What is a Female Character?
Recent Publications:


Troy, Michigan (forthcoming from Futurepoem, 2013)

Longer I Wait, More You Love Me. (Palm Press, 2009)



Belladonna Chaplet #145, Untitled (limited edition from Belladonnna Books, 2012)

Birds of Los Angeles (Palm Press, 2005)


Selected Poetry:

Recent poems have been published or are forthcoming in Drunken Boat,Los Angeles Review, Callaloo, HOW2, Natural Bridge, Seneca Review and the Yalobusha Review, among several others. 


Selected Prose:

My prose has been published or is forthcoming in Bookforum, The Iowa Review, Coldfront, Seneca Review, Seattle Review, and Harper’s Magazine.  


Works Performed:

My lyrics for art song and choir (in collaboration with composer Derek Bermel) have been performed at or by: Le Poisson Rouge (NY); The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; The Mendelssohn Choir; Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kunst (Copenhagen, Denmark); Opera America Conference; Fulcrum Point Ensemble (Chicago);  Weil Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall (NY);  Joe’s Pub, Public Theatre (NY), and Huddersfield Music Festival (Huddersfield, England) among several others.

Office Location:
65 W. 11th St., Room 250
Office Hours:
Please see syllabi for office hours.  Hours also by appointment.

Personal Website:

Research Interests:
Political geography, cultural studies, deindustrialization, performance and installation art, digital media studies and history of technology.
Awards and Honors:

Manuscript selected for Futurepoem’s 2011 Open Call

New York Foundation for the Arts, Artist Fellowship, Poetry 2011

(also nominated for New York Foundation for the Arts, Artist Fellowship, Nonfiction)

Faculty Research Grant, The New School University

Nominee for The Essay Prize at The University of Iowa, for “Lonely in America”

Commissions from The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust

Residency fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, Cave Canem and The Bread Loaf Writers Conference

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