Fail Better: Reading Group & Poetry Workshop with Domenica Martinello

$250, Thursdays from 6 to 9 pm, starting July 12

I saw the earth was one of the great / unsuccessful poems.
—Mary Ruefle


There is no innovation without failure. In this reading group and cross-genre workshop, we will work together to deepen our understanding of what it means to “fail” as artists, with the goal of reframing failure as a vital, generative force that is as inevitable as it is essential. Our readings of prose, poetry, and hybrid texts will thematically or conceptually intersect with the notion of failure and will inform the revising, reforming, rearticulating, and re-envisioning of the writing that we bring to workshop. Come in with a work that you feel, for whatever reason, is “failing” or write something new for workshop inspired by our readings and discussions.

Some questions we will consider: How is the concept of “being a failure” culturally inscribed? How is failure informed by capitalism, sexism, racism, and heteronormativity? How do we privately define and internalize failure? On the other hand, who gets to publically define success? How is failure a privilege? Who can afford to take risks and why?

Most importantly, we must not forget the first part of Beckett’s famous quote that sometimes gets cut off: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.” Focusing on keeping our stride and privileging process over outcome will open up new and exciting possibilities to fail better.


Reading List

How Should a Person Be by Sheila Heti
Theatre of the Unimpressed: In Search of Vital Drama by Jordan Tannahill
The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner

Supplementary (excerpts provided)
I Love Dick by Chris Kraus (read alongside of Amazon’s “failed” 2017 TV adaptation created by Jill Soloway and Sarah Gubbins).
Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle
Ban en Banlieue by Bhanu Kapil
Heroines and Book of Mutter by Kate Zambreno

Additionally, we will look at a variety of individual poems. Participants will be invited to bring in material to share with the group to round out our reading list.


This class will run Thursday evenings from 6-9pm for 8 weeks.
Class Dates will be: July 12, July 19, July 26, Aug 2, Aug 9, Aug 16, Aug 23, Aug 30 


Domenica Martinello is the author of the chapbook Interzones (2015) and All Day I Dream About Sirens (forthcoming, Coach House Books 2019). She was a finalist for the 2017 Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and the winner of the carte blanche 3Macs award for her genre-bending work of literary criticism, “Ferrante in the Cellar: A Vulgar Appreciation.” Recent poems, reviews, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, THIS Magazine, DUSIE, The Globe & Mail, Canadian Notes & Queries, Vallum, carte blanche, PRISM International, Lemon Hound, and elsewhere. Martinello holds an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, lives in Montréal, and tweets @domenicahope