Antiracist Statement

Iowa City Poetry is committed to dismantling white supremacy in poetry and building in its place radically inclusive policies and practices. White supremacy, the ideology that the white race is superior to all other races, guards white privilege and power in poetry through subtle and overt means, including —

  • The lie that white subject matters, forms, styles, and grammars are the most correct, pure, and canonical.
  • The fallacy that white-led publications, institutions, and organizations publish the best poetry, award the most elite poetry prizes, and offer the most prestigious poetic credentials.
  • The myth that white (or so-called “traditional”) pedagogical methods are the best ways to teach poetry writing.

To subvert this ideology, Iowa City Poetry teachers and organizers commit to adopting a stance that is authentically individual or transparently cultural rather than supposedly universal. They will strive to make clear that—

  • The terms “best,” “canonical,” and “universal” are often coded terms for “white.” 
  • There are many different poetic sensibilities and styles. 
  • They have chosen to foreground the work of poets of various races, ages, sexual orientations, gendered identities, places, time periods, and/or socioeconomic backgrounds and there are specific stylistic, cultural, political, or personal reasons behind these choices.
  • A poem takes the form the poet needs, whether that form comes from any number of traditions or is the poet’s invention.
  • A poet is someone who writes poems.

Iowa City Poetry pledges to construct its policies and practices upon these foundational principles. By offering inclusive and empowering workshops, readings, and other community-based projects that decenter whiteness, we commit to antiracist work within our local literary sphere and beyond.

The community is invited to share their experiences and perspectives. We hope you will keep the conversation going about ICP’s antiracist policies and practices by contacting us at [email protected].

ICP Advisory Council
January 15, 2021


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