The 1981 Feminist Reading Group with Laura Henriksen

If we take seriously the idea that poets make excellent alternate record-keepers, that part of the work of poetry is to create a subversive archive of unofficial history and shared memory and mood, how then might poetry be uniquely suited to taking us back, to showing us not just the events of a year as laid out by narratives of power, but the inside of a year? Say, for example, the year 1981? In this reading group, instead of organizing our conversation around an individual author, we will focus on a time, and attempt to uncover what 1981 felt like / was like through the close reading of five crucial texts published that year. Resisting nostalgia, and with certain misgivings about the whole “linear time” framework, we will listen for voices that have been silenced and narratives that have been lost or mistold, we will reclaim what was left behind that we still need today, and we will see what we can learn about a different era from the perspective of our era, as well as what we can learn about our era from the perspective of another, all while keeping in mind our own responsibilities as alternate record-keepers, making an “archive of feelings,” in 2018.

But wait, why 1981? Join the reading group and find out!

Texts will include Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa anthology, This Bridge Called My Back, Eileen Myles’s Fresh Young Voice From The Plains, Diane Burns’s Riding the One-Eyed Ford (discussion led by the foremost Burns scholar, Nicole Wallace), Alice Notley’s Waltzing Matilda, and Lorenzo Thomas’s The Bathers (discussion led by acclaimed book sleuth Dave Morse). PDFs will be provided!

This reading group is now full. To be added to the waitlist, please email Laura at

Laura Henriksen

Laura Henriksen‘s work can be found in The Brooklyn Rail, LitHub, No, Dear, and other places. She is the author of Agata (IMP, 2017) Fluid Arrangements, a collaborative chapbook with Beka Goedde, (Planthouse Gallery, 2018) and Canadian Girlfriends (THERETHEN, 2019). She works as the Director of Learning & Community Engagement at The Poetry Project.