Richard Jeffrey Newman (Poet and Essayist)
Writing About What You’re Afraid to Write About
Why write about something you fear? To name it and, in naming it, to gain control over it. To learn how not to be afraid. Or, perhaps, to learn how to live with fear. Why try to make poetry from your fear, to make it beautiful with words? Not the straightforward loveliness of surfaces, but the beauty that puts us in touch with the full depth of what it means to be human, that does not force us to choose between it and ugliness, but rather allows us to experience both beauty and ugliness as they always already exist within us, and in the world around us. Why? Because while a poem may pronounce judgment on what we fear, it does not judge us for fearing it. Poetry is not politics, and it is not therapy, but finding the words that will make your fear beautiful is an act of hope and, therefore, of a kind of healing. In this workshop, we will explore strategies for bringing that hope and that healing into our lives and our work, whether as poets and writers, or as people who simply want to find ways of saying what they haven’t, till now, been able to say.
As a poet and essayist, Richard Jeffrey Newman’s work explores the impact of feminism on his life as a man, especially as a survivor of childhood sexual violence. As a co-translator of classical Persian poetry, he writes about the impact of that canon on our contemporary lives. His own books of poetry are, most recently, Words for What Those Men Have Done, (Guernica Editions 2017) and For My Son, A Kind of Prayer (Ghostbird Press in 2016). CavanKerry Press published his first book, The Silence of Men, in 2006. His translations include The Teller of Tales: Stories from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (Junction Press 2011) and Selections from Saadi’s Gulistan and Selections from Saadi’s Bustan (both out of print, Global Scholarly Publications 2004 & 2006). Newman is on the executive board of Newtown Literary, a Queens, NY-based literary non-profit and curates the First Tuesdays reading series in Jackson Heights, NY. His poems, essays, and translations have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Salon.com, The American Voice, Another Chicago Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Diode, New Verse News, Unlikely Stories, Cipher, Ekleksographia, and Dirty Goat. He is Professor of English at Nassau Community College in Garden City, NY, where he also serves as secretary of his faculty union, The Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers (NCCFT). His website is