Emma Greer, Writer


Emma holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied fiction and poetry. For the past two years, she has worked with the Marymount Manhattan College’s Bedford Hills College Program, first as a tutor and now as an administrator. She is also an Instructor-In-Training with GallopNYC, which offers therapeutic horseback-riding programs for people with disabilities. Prior to pursuing her MFA, she worked in philanthropy supporting social justice and human rights organizations. She has taught high school English conversation classes in France and facilitated creative writing workshops for women and young men in prison. Originally from Missouri, Emma loves living in Brooklyn, which she has called home for over 15 years.

TAP Work:

As a TAP trainee, Emma had the privilege of shadowing Shawn Ferreyra and Jane Elias in their visual arts and creative writing residency at PS 316. The students, first-graders in an ASD Nest classroom, practiced observing, describing, and exploring the world around them through poetry and illustration. Their work culminated in autobiographical poems and self-portraits expressing what they would like others to know about them. For her teaching session, Emma led the class in a lesson on writing odes to discover the unexpected joy in everyday objects. Through TAP, Emma also attended excellent seminars on early and elementary arts education (with Wingspan Arts), using storytelling to craft curricula, community engagement through creative writing, and traumatic crisis intervention.

Most Memorable TAP Moment:

“My favorite TAP moments took place in my residency. I loved teaching my own lesson and watching the students’ faces light up as they made observations and connections while talking through a sample ode poem. When they returned to their tables to write their own odes, they were full of ideas, both silly and serious. It was rewarding to see the students build on and apply skills they had worked on throughout the residency, such as describing objects and emotions, and absolutely delightful to watch them having so much fun with words. I also loved the final day of the residency, when the students received their anthologies and performed some of their poems for the class. It was inspiring to see them shining with such pride, growing confidence, creative energy, and joy.”

“Hour of the Swinging Door”

The voices come in the blue hour at the edge of sleep

awake I lie waiting willing them

into the space where my ear meets my pillow

a moon-crisp clearing shred by yelps and howls

I wish / will never stop wishing the coyotes would call

to the lonesome dog as kin instead of preying on

her yearning / her motherly instinct / her flesh

I don’t know if the voices behind my eyes

are the coyotes or the dog

but restless I wait for them to pick up my scent

become attuned to me as I am to them

and give me words missing in the waking world

for stirrings only animals and children can divine.

Love / you lie next to me and hear nothing

but I think if I can sync our breath we together will

sense something primal trembling our bones—

ancient rock yawning against the Atlantic

phantom fingers rustling the musty midnight air.

I could tell you that quiet is a cold breath

on the back of my neck / but what if you’ve never seen

a pair of sharp olive eyes part the shadows

across a field or a bedroom?

You fall asleep / love / holding nights / my hand

your breath steadies as I listen to whipping owl wings

and sometimes / hear you crying in your dreams.

“The Lineman’s Wife, 1946”

The wind is spitting pennies at our roof again,

water turnt to copper against tin.

Now I’m up, to patter at the dawn.

Next time I hope we get a motel town.

A trailer for a house. What would mama say?

Glad I found a man who knows

the risks worth all the throes to make a life?

There’s chill inside this stuffy air. Gooseflesh

and clammy fingers. Nothing holds.

Don’t want to roust him or I’d get the quilt.

His breath is easy, rocking cradle breath.

Ha! That’d make him shake his head.

All you think about, he’d say, as if he knows

what I think I want, or might, or don’t.

It’s tight to breathe in here and all that wind.

This trailer smells like blood the way pennies

taste like blood.

His eyelashes, though—

warm rain against my neck. Keep

them windows shut! he says.

You’ll warp the cabinet drawers!

And if I let some air inside,

an open mouth of air

until a little water swells the wood

what then? Will he slam another door?

Will we have to pull a little harder

for a spoon? Will we hunger

longer? Less?

“Night Moves at Hank’s Saloon”

Saturday late-afternoon in the scuffed up barroom,

snug Christmas lights strung up in glorious clutter,

the new snow outside not quite turned slush,

my friends on stage playing rock n’ roll together

for the last time like this— raucous, childless in Brooklyn—

an ecstatic and sad goodbye.

I stepped outside with my love and brought it up.

You really want that? he said, he smiled.

I do, I said. I do? The evening chill carried a surge

like a sly push down a snowy hill—

I stood there shivering, exhilarated, surrendering

to nothing decided and nothing unchanged.