Ailish Hopper

Associate ProfessorPeace Studies

Ailish Hopper is a poet, writer, and teacher. She is the author of Dark~Sky Society (2014) and the chapbook Bird in the Head (2005). Her awards include support from the MacDowell Colony, Maryland State Arts Council, and Yaddo. Individual poems have appeared in numerous places, including American Poetry Review, Harvard Review Online, Ploughshares, and Poetry; in addition to page poetry, she performed with the poetry band Heroes are Gang Leaders. Her essays on social practice, and art and literature that deal with race, have appeared in Boston Review, the anthology, A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race, and other places. In all her roles, she tries to honor the tradition that Paolo Friere has characterized as "the vocation to be fully human."

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Research, Scholarship, Creative Work in Progress

I’m working on my third manuscript of poems, Voluptas, and a book of essays and drawings, Vanish into Form: An Embookbodiment, about the “unthinkable” in social change.



Dark~Sky Society (Poems). New Issues. 2014.


Bird in the Head (Poems). Center for Book Arts. 2005.

Selected publications (Poetry)

“Renga for Obama,” Harvard Review, March 2017

“Did it Ever Occur to you that Maybe You’re Falling in Love” in The Poetry Review (UK), Summer 2016.

“Slang in America,” collaboration with Fred Moten, Simone White, Randall Horton, Magdalena Zurawski. Ythm, January 2016.

“Did it Ever Occur to you that Maybe You’re Falling in Love” in Poetry, January 2016.

“Dream, Technidifficult” in Academy of American Poets Online, Apr 2014.

“The Good Caucasian” in Harvard Review Online, Aug 2014.

“Circle in the Grass” in Blackbird, Vol 12, No 2, Summer 2013.

“Song of Blackout and Whiteache,” in The Baffler, Fall 2012.

“Romanticism,” “Home of the Quiet Storm,” and “Cyano-,” in American Poetry Review, March/April 2012.

“15 ½” in Agni 74, Fall 2011.

“Self-Portrait as Smoke,” in Copper Nickel, Winter 2011-2012.

“Emancipation Test: On Being Crazy,” and “Silver Gelatin,” in American Letters & Commentary, Fall 2011.

“The Stowaway,” in Ploughshares, Winter 2008-2009.

Selected publications (Prose)

“On Being a Problem-for and Problem-with in the Classroom/World.” Afterword to: Ford, Derek.

The Secret and Struggle of Study. Lexington Press, 2016.

“Hope™.” Arts Rising. United Diverse Artists, Baltimore. April 2016.

“Can a Poem Listen? Variations on Being-white.” Boston Review, April 2015.

“Progressive Poetics: Ailish Hopper responds to Auden and Adorno.” Inquire: A Crossing Point for

Ideas. Hix, HL, Ed. April 2015.

“The Gentle Art of Making Enemies: A Poet Rewriting Race.” In: McCullough, Laura, Ed. A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race. University of Georgia, 2014.

“Citizens of a Moment: Architecture Across the Cosmos, at Arm’s Length,” Pilot Light: A Journal

of 21st Century Poetics and Criticism, Winter 2013.

“Freedom Loop: Mixtape for Jake, Essay-style.” Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics. Issue 26; Feb 2013.

“Something’s Missing: Poetry and the Unthinkable.” Best American Poetry, 7 August 2012.

“Undiscovered Countries (Radical Poem-Cartography).” Best American Poetry, 8 August 2012

“The Gentle Art of Making Enemies: On Gwendolyn Brooks.“Memorious blog, Fall 2010.

Exhibits or Performances

Arts Club of Washington DC, Sept 2014

Baltimore Book Festival, Sept 2014

Wesleyan University, Middletown CT, Oct 2014

Naropa University, Disembodied Poetics Conference. Boulder CO, Oct 2014

Pratt Library, Baltimore MD, Oct 2014

Sunday Salon, New York NY, Dec 2014

Inner Loop Reading Series, Washington DC, Dec 2014

Busboys and Poets, Washington DC, Feb 2015

University of Montana, Thinking its Presence Conference. Missoula MT, March 2015

Red Sofa Salon, Philadelphia PA, March 2015

Maryland Correctional Institute for Women, Jessup MD, March 2015

Conference of Association of Writing Programs. Minneapolis MN, March 2015

Howard University, Washington DC, April 2015 (with Heroes are Gang Leaders)

George Mason University, Visiting Writer, April 2015

Cornelia Street Café, New York NY, April 2015

Red Emma’s Bookstore, Baltimore MD, May 2015

University of New Haven, New Haven CT, Oct 2015 (with Heroes are Gang Leaders)

Bowery Poetry Club, New York NY, Oct 2015 (with Heroes are Gang Leaders)

Berl’s Poetry Shop, New York NY, Dec 2015

Rutgers University, Newark NJ, Feb 2016 (with Heroes are Gang Leaders)

Creative Alliance, Baltimore MD, April 2016

Red Emmas’s, Baltimore MD, April 2016

Writer’s Center, Bethesda MD, Sept 2016 (with Martha Collins)

Couplet, New York NY, Jan 2017 (with Ocean Vuong, Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

National Cathedral, Washington DC, May 2017 (with Natasha Tretheway)

External Awards, Honors, Grants

Individual Artist Grant, Maryland State Arts Council 2014

New Issues Poetry Prize, runner up (Sel. David St. John) 2013

MacDowell Colony Fellow 2012

Yaddo artist’s residency 2007

Individual Artist Grant, Baltimore Commission for Arts and Humanities 2006

Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize (Sel. Jean Valentine) 2005

Jane Kenyon Scholarship, Bennington College 1999

Conference Papers & Panel Participation

Moderator and Panelist: “Literary Countermapping: the Speculative and New Political Imaginaries.” NonfictioNow conference, Reykjavic Iceland. June 2017. With Amitava Kumar, Jen Fitzgerald, Jess Row.

Invited panelist: “Liberate Literature.” Conference of Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Washington DC. Feb 2017. With Rosebud Ben-Oni, Jen Fitzgerald, Rosalyn Spencer, Rodrigo Toscano.

Invited panelist: “Whose World is This?” Split this Rock Poetry Festival, Washington DC. April With Ernesto Mercer, Teri Cross Davis, Brian Gilmore.

Invited Panelist: “Art, Race, and Listening.” Thinking its Presence: Conference on Creative Writing and Race, Missoula MT. April 2014.

Invited Panelist: “Calling Whiteness to Account: Poets on Race.” Split this Rock Poetry Festival,

Washington DC. March 2014. With Joy Katz, Tess Taylor, Rachel Richardson, Sarah Browning.

Invited Panelist: “White Poets Writing about Race” at Split this Rock Poetry Festival, Washington DC. March 2012. With Martha Collins, Jake Adam York, Tess Taylor, Susan Tichy.

Moderator and Panelist: “Beyond Blackout and Whiteache: Contemporary Poets Rewriting Race.” Conference of Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Washington DC. Feb With Martha Collins, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Douglas Kearney, Jake Adam York.

Invited Panelist: “The Personal and Political” at Split this Rock Poetry Festival, Washington DC. March 2008. With Andrea Carter Brown, Kim Roberts.

Invited Talks

“Explanatorily Superior.” Part of Seeing Color: A Conversation about Race. Baltimore Museum of Art. Nov 2015.

“Living in the House of Race.” Part of the What is Race? Lecture series. Goucher College, Baltimore MD. Oct 2015.

“Impossible Beings: Poetry, Time-travel, and the Death of White Supremacy.”Thinking its Presence: Conference on Creative Writing and Race, Missoula MT. March 2015.

"Getting Under Being Over it, Getting Over Being Under it: Poetry that's Awake Inside of Race." Disembodied Poetics Conference, Naropa University, Boulder CO. Oct2014.“Forms of Disruption: Productive Irritation and the Interplay between Meditativeand Creative Practice.” Baltimore Museum of Art. Nov 2013.

Academic or Professional Associations

Academy of American Poets, Association of Writers and Writing Programs, PEN (by nomination only), Teachers and Writers Collaborative

Other Professional or Scholarly Activity

Dargan, Kyle. “Kyle Dargan on Civic Poetry Month: Five New Voices.” April 17, 2017.

Hirshfield, Jane. Editors’ Bookshelf Recommendations: Dark~Sky Society, by Ailish Hopper. Ploughshares, Spring 2015.

Collins, Martha. “So Filled the Paper Cannot Absorb: Ailish Hopper’s Dark~Sky Society.” Field, Spring 2015.

Strautmann, Jacob. “Countermeasures: Reviews of New Books in Poetry: Jamaal May, Ailish Hopper, Sally Wen Mao, Kirun Kapur.” Jam Tarts, Winter 2014.