Shira Dentz, PhD

Affiliated Faculty

Teaching Philosophy

Literary forms are situated within artistic movements and historical contexts so that students, in addition to broadening and deepening their understanding of formal possibilities, become more aware of how modes of representation can reflect prevailing social norms or new spaces. Locating a balance between structure and experiment is something I work on both as a writer and a teacher. I foster a relationship to creativity in my students that is conducive to their taking risks with subject matter and formal play in their writing. Activities I encourage include chance operations, kinesthetic prompts, multi-media collage, and writing experiments through which students exercise their associative imaginations instead of logic, and hone their attention to their five senses so they can draw on a less mediated and more immediate experience of their world.

I attend closely to my students’ distinct approaches to language and reflect back to them what I see, and suggest writers with whom they might feel simpatico to read and learn from; in this way, I aim to help them further develop their singular styles. I also encourage student inquiry into the relation between formal aesthetic choices and sociopolitical expression through reading formally diverse works. I feel it is important for students to gain a strong background in a wide range of poetic and narrative movements, forms, and theories so that students are able to place their own and others’ writing within the context of contemporary and traditional literary landscapes. Students can then experience their own writing as extending into conversation with a wider literary community.


PhD Creative Writing and Literature, University of Utah
MFA Creative Writing (Poetry), University of Iowa
BA Creative Writing/Studio Art, Hunter College CUNY, New York

Areas of Expertise

  • Poetry
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Hybrid Writing
  • Visual Writing
  • Multicultural Literature
  • Literature of Trauma and Witness
  • Word and Image
  • Contemporary American Poetry

Meaningful Action in the World

I believe writers participate in shaping culture through telling stories, and I teach creative writing as a social art practice. I also interact with fields such as narrative medicine and transformative language arts that link writing with wellness.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers



  • Sisyphusina (PANK Books) 2020
  • the sun a blazing zero (Lavender Ink) 2019
  • how do I net thee (Salmon Poetry) 2018
  • door of thin skins (CavanKerry Press) April 2013
  • black seeds on a white dish (Shearsman Books) November 2010


  • FLOUNDERS (Essay Press) April 2016
  • Leaf Weather (Shearsman Books) 2012

Selected Recent Publication

Awards, Fellowships, and Professional Accolades

  • Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Book Prize for Sisyphusina (post-publication award), 2021
  • Utah Arts’ Council, Poetry, 2008
  • Levis/Academy of American Poets’ Prize, 2007
  • MacDowell Arts Colony Residency, NH, Summer 2018
  • Trustee Honoree for Faculty Achievement, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2017 & 2019
  • Tanner Center for the Humanities Fellowship, University of Utah, 2010–11
  • University of Utah’s College of Humanities Research Award, 2011 Website

Affiliation MFA Creative Writing