Lauren Russell

Director

Lauren Russell, an assistant professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, is a poet and writer in hybrid forms. She is the author of Descent (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2020) and What’s Hanging on the Hush (Ahsahta Press, 2017). A 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry, she has also received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and VIDA/the Home School, and residencies from the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and City of Asylum/Passa Porta. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, The Brooklyn RailDIAGRAM, and the anthologies Bettering American Poetry 2015 and Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry, among others. 

 

Lauren’s work often resists traditional genre divisions and engages in a continuous process of reimagining what a poem can be and do. Her second book, Descent, began in 2013 when she acquired a copy of the diary of her great-great-grandfather, Robert Wallace Hubert, who was a Captain in the Confederate Army. After the end of the Civil War, he fathered children by three of his former slaves, including Lauren’s great-great-grandmother, Peggy Hubert. As she transcribed the 225-page diary, Lauren became interested in its omissions and decided to write into the gaps. She also wanted to imagine the voice of her great-great-grandmother Peggy, a Black woman silenced by history. The book is at once “an investigation, a reclamation, and an instance of making history as a creative act.” In Descent as in all her work as a poet experimentalist, Lauren believes in writing as a site of discovery through risk.

 

Lauren comes to MSU from the University of Pittsburgh, where she was assistant director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP) and a research assistant professor in the Department of English from 2016 to 2020. A poet with a GED long before she became a poet with an MFA, Lauren has always believed that poetry is for everyone. Through a partnership between Pitt and the VA Healthcare system, she and MFA students under her supervision regularly taught on a locked inpatient behavioral health unit at the VA’s Pittsburgh hospital. She was also a co-organizer and co-facilitator of the Poetry Partnership of Pittsburgh spring 2020 workshop series for Black and Brown poets, a collaboration of CAAPP and the Black Unicorn Library and Archives Project. 


Lauren was delighted to join RCAH and the Center for Poetry in the fall of 2020.

For more information, see https://laurenrussellpoet.com.