Emily Skillings

Emily Skillings's picture
Lecturer in English
63 High St, New Haven, CT 06511-6642

Emily Skillings was born in Brunswick, Maine and received degrees from The New School (B.A. in Dance and Writing, 2010) and Columbia University School of the Arts (M.F.A. in Poetry, 2017) where she was appointed as a Creative Writing Teaching Fellow. Her first full-length collection, Fort Not, will be published by The Song Cave in 2017. She is also the author of two chapbooks: Backchannel (Poor Claudia) and Linnaeus: The 26 Sexual Practices of Plants (No, Dear/ Small Anchor Press). Recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, Boston Review, Brooklyn RailBOMB, jubilat, HyperallergicLitHubPleiades, and elsewhere. Her work has been included in both the Pushcart Prize Anthology (2017) and the Brooklyn Poets Anthology (2017). She has taught poetry at Columbia University, The New School, and through Brooklyn Poets.

Since 2009, Skillings has been an active member of Belladonna* Collaborative, a feminist literary collective, event series, and nonprofit publisher in Brooklyn that promotes the work of experimental women writers. She co-hosts the monthly Brooklyn-based reading series Earshot, which began in 2005 to promote the work of emerging writers alongside established voices. With poet Adam Fitzgerald, she co-curated the exhibit “John Ashbery Collects: Poet Among Things” at Loretta Howard Gallery (2013). Formally trained in ballet and modern dance, she has performed throughout New York City, and her choreography has been presented by NADA New York (2015), Spoke the Hub (2014), Dixon Place (2013), Triskelion Arts (2009), and Jacket 2, who commissioned her dance film “Uptick” in 2012.

She is currently at work on a book-length poem, titled “Mother of Pearl,” in which she hopes to investigate the ethics of reproduction and motherhood in the midst of climate change. The poem draws together fragments of language from three wildly disparate sources: Simon Armitage’s recent translation of Pearl, an anonymous and formally intricate medieval and allegorical poem that catalogues a father’s lament for his deceased child (“she slipped from me through grass to ground”), in which no mother is mentioned or present; Roxy Music’s “Mother of Pearl,” a genre-bending glam-rock love ballad from the mid-1980s that switches, almost jarringly, from an unwieldy punk song to a languorous meditation on modernity and its various vessels and disappointments; and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, in which Hester Prynne’s daughter Pearl becomes simultaneously a symbol of the demonic and the divine, a projected-upon object of motherly love and sacrifice.


Feminist poetry, ekphrastic poetry, Oulipian forms, the New York School, interdisciplinary poetics and pedagogy, phenomenology, constraint-based writing, flâneurism and writing on walking, writing on identity, Ecopoetics.


- Fort Not (The Song Cave, 2017)

- Backchannel (Poor Claudia, 2014)


- Brooklyn Rail

- Academy of American Poets

- Hyperallergic

- BOMB Magazine

- Boston Review


- Huffington Post

- Brooklyn Poets

- WritLit


ENGL 135: Reading Poetry for Craft

This course combines elements of workshop and seminar and invites students to deepen their knowledge of poetic forms, movements, and styles, with the goal of strengthening their voices through equal parts reading and writing poetry. Over the course of the semester, we will study specific aspects of craft, such as line, line breaks, stanzaic choices, meter, form, image, metaphor, and sound, broadening and developing our range of expression, linguistic elasticity, comfort with risk-taking, formal innovation, and writer’s “toolkits.” As we read and investigate a wide scope of both canonical and contemporary poets—from Shakespeare to Harryette Mullen—with an eye toward craft, we will experiment with their architectures and formal choices in our own poetry. Students will develop a portfolio of poems (including odes, sonnets, list poems, ekphrastic poems, and other constraint-based forms) and write an accompanying essay on the craft of poets who have influenced their work.