Transformative and Connective: Visiting Writer Danielle Vogel

Cross-genre poet Danielle Vogel visited Amherst as part of the English Department’s Visiting Writers Series. Abby Kim ’27 covers her reading and conversation about her unbounded poetry.

Transformative and Connective: Visiting Writer Danielle Vogel
Vogel is not constricted to the role of “writer”: She also teaches English at Wesleyan College and is an herbalist and flower practitioner. Photo courtesy of Claire Beougher ’26.

With her signature braid-crown hairstyle and stunning drop earrings, the cross-genre writer Danielle Vogel captured the audience from the moment she stepped to the podium.

Author of four hybrid poetry collections, “Between Grammars (2015), “Edges & Fray(2019), “The Way a Line Hallucinates Its Own Linearity” (2020), and “A Library of Light” (forthcoming 2024), Vogel was invited as the fourth speaker of the Center for Creative Writing’s Visiting Writers Series. Vogel is also an English professor at Wesleyan University and runs a private practice “with/in herbals,” where she displays her skills as a herbalist and flower essence practitioner. While her written work focuses on the intersections of queer and feminist ecologies, somatics, and ecology, her installations and site-responsive works have been displayed in art venues from the RISD Museum and Carnegie Hall to Tjarnarbió Theater.

Held at the Aliki Perroti & Seth Frank Lyceum, Lecturer in English Dennis J. Sweeney opened the reading by introducing Vogel. Sweeney is currently teaching the courses “Creative Thesis Workshop” and “Hybrid Forms” in which his students read parts of Vogel’s “Edges & Fray” (2019). Sweeney thanked Vogel for attending his “Hybrid Forms” course earlier that day and proceeded to invite Vogel to the stage.

After stepping up to the podium and thanking everyone for coming, Vogel took a moment of silence which she later revealed was to examine the crowd in order to fully engage with them. She also paused to consume a drop of Wild Rose Elixir, an herbal supplement which she personally makes and sells on her online store “with/in herbals.” She explained that she likes to take a dose before reading events.

Vogel started by reading the last few pages of her collection “The Way a Line Hallucinates Its Own Linearity.” Vogel explained it was her first time reading the end of her book to an audience, but she wanted to offer students working on final projects an insight into how she closes her books. Vogel also warned the audience that because her work is a lyric essay they should not be alarmed if they feel sleepy at any point. Vogel spoke in a soft, soothing voice and read her lyric essay with ease putting the audience in a trance.

Vogel then read from her book “Edges and Fray.” She explained that she wrote the first 90 pages of “Edges and Fray” in fragments so that it could be read non-linearly and readers “... can build [their] own nest through the fragments of the reading.” To demonstrate her point, Vogel read several pages out of order and clarified, “I will read [“Edges and Fray”] non-linearly to weave a nest of memories that circles around how the book began.”

In the Q&A after the reading, Vogel opened up about how she is constantly working on three projects at one time which is why her hybrid poetry collections are all interconnected. She explained that they “know of each other because they make each other possible,” and elaborated that the process of writing her books is in conversation with the product.

Vogel also revealed in the Q&A that she wrote the first draft of her books under hallucination. She explained that a hypnosis therapist would hypnotize her, then she would record their sessions, and later transcribe the recordings to create her books. After this process of creating the first draft, Vogel revealed that her editing process was extensive and would take longer than the writing explaining, “I like reshaping what came out just for me so the readers can take it and go under a type of transformation after reading.”

Not only are Vogel’s accomplishments impressive, but her unique outlook on life and genuine interactions with the audience allow her to be a role model for anyone. As a professor, Vogel understands how to speak to a crowd and interact with an audience, a fact which was revealed in one of the most notable moments of the reading when Vogel gave a heart-felt smile to a nervous audience member who asked a question allowing her warmth and compassion to shine through.