Ailish Hopper is a poet, writer, teacher and student. Her art practice explores the interlayering of physical, lyrical, and political bodies, experimenting with page and performance forms to travel through closed spaces, and open the future-bodies within. Her research explores new narrative practices, critical race theory, post-conflict justice, and cultural rewriting, with a current focus on utopian, futuristic, and conspiracy-theory. Her work is crucially informed by growing up white in (then) mostly-black DC, and by being the daughter of a single-parent immigrant from Ireland. As a teacher and student she tries to work in the tradition that Paolo Friere characterized as "the vocation to be fully human."
She is the author of Dark~Sky Society (2014), selected by David St. John as runner up for the New Issues prize, and the chapbook Bird in the Head (2005), selected by Jean Valentine for the Center for Book Arts Prize. Individual poems have appeared in Agni, APR, Blackbird, Harvard Review Online, Ploughshares, Poetry, Tidal Basin Review, and other places. In addition to page poetry, she also writes and performs with the poetry band, Heroes are Gang Leaders.
Her essay, "Can a Poem Listen? Variations on Being-White" appeared in the Boston Review in 2015, and a book chapter on the use of alienation in art that looks at race, "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies," appeared in A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race, edited by Laura McCullough. Other essays on art and literature that deal with race and racism have appeared in The Volta and Pilot Light.
She's currently working on a third collection of poems and a book of drawing-essays, Vanish into Form, that explores the unthinkable, and the obstacles to it, with a case study that imagines the death of white supremacy.
She's received support from the Baltimore Commission for the Arts and Humanities, the MacDowell Colony, Maryland State Arts Council, and Yaddo. She teaches at Goucher College, and has also taught in UMBC's Intermedia and Digital Arts MFA.