Elizabeth Bradfield is the author of the poetry collections Once Removed (Persea, 2015), Approaching Ice (Persea, 2010), which was a finalist for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Interpretive Work (Arktoi Books, 2008), which won the 2009 Audre Lorde Prize and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Orion, The Believer, Poetry and in anthologies such as This Assignment is So Gay: LGBTIQ Poets on Teaching and The Ecopoetry Anthology. She has been awarded a Stegner Fellowship and a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, among other honors.
In 2005, Bradfield founded Broadsided Press (broadsidedpress.org) with the mission of putting literature and art on the streets. Broadsided has been acclaimed in Poets &Writers and The Utne Reader.
Elizabeth lives on Cape Cod, and she works as a naturalist locally as well as on expedition ships around the world (gravitating always toward the higher latitudes, north and south), and writes about seals on her blog, The Haul Out. She is the Jacob Ziskind Visiting Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University and a contributing editor at Alaska Quarterly Review.
Every reader approaches a poem with an implicit question: so what? What is it, on the page, that makes the poem worth the time and attention it demands? The answer can be found in subject, sound, rhythm, formal innovation, or sheer imagistic beauty. However, every poem must risk something vital on the page.
My goal as a teacher is to embolden the poet, to challenge her to push into new formal, stylistic, or narrative territory, then to help her articulate the stakes of the poem. How is this done? Primarily, by gaining courage from the daring of others. Reading widely and deeply and trying different styles/voices/forms is key to opening doors in one's own work. I believe that a critical part of mentorship is helping students find the poets who will be their teachers—book by book, poem by poem.
Graduate-level study is also an opportunity to explore how one critically responds to poems. Not every MFA student will go on to pursue employment in literary or critical fields, but the reading of and an engagement with contemporary discussions of poetry and poetics is something I value highly for all students.
My deepest study and readings have involved ecopoetics, the possibilities of history in poetry, the power of politicized confessional poetry, and the energy of cross-genre/multimedia collaborations between literature and art. While my own poems often delve into the often-fraught relationship between people and the natural world, I am most excited when I see students discovering how the particular experiences, vocabularies and awarenesses of their own lives and obsessions can leap into song.