9th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival - Archive


In my poetry workshop participants will critique each other's poems, followed by a critique from me. Participants should bring along four or five samples of their own work (one-page poems preferred). We will use work by master poets to illustrate and discuss certain matters of craft. I will also make a poetry assignment or two during the course of the week based on the issues raised during our meetings and discussions.

This workshop is intended to help poets help themselves. It will offer concrete strategies for sustained writing when the only teacher available is a book. We will explore the ways inventive imitation can lead to poetic discovery and innovation. (Think of imitation as transformation not reproduction.) Daily writing assignments will involve discussing and then imitating published poems from a multitude of styles and traditions. Come prepared to generate and share work written in class. In workshops poems will be discussed not for their merit as imitations, but for their originality and potential. No advance submission is necessary.

A poem’s largeness is not in its length, but in its depth, range, and openness. One reason to write a poem is to bring both language and self into unforeseen possibilities of being. In this workshop we will stretch from familiar ground toward the new. The workshop will be devoted primarily to writing new poems, each day bringing a different set of energies, craft strategies, and approaches to that task. We will work in the spirit of “starts,” experiments, generous explorations. We will also consider one previously written poem by each participant over the workshop’s course. Please bring writing materials; copies for the full group of a previously written poem (and a second, in case we have time for more) you do not consider finished; and five poems (not your own) you find thrilling (a page or less, no copies needed).

The question in writing poems is always, “How can I do justice to the complexity of life? How can I not oversimplify human nature?” One way to achieve richness of texture and implication is "layering." In this workshop I’ll present examples of poems strong in variety of texture, variety of voice, and in layering of data and diction. I’ll also run exercises which can enlarge your repertoire of tone, diction, data, and poetic structures to generate new work. Revised drafts will be considered for discussion. Participants will also bring 2-3 of their poems they feel would benefit from discussion in workshop and the layering approach.

In this workshop we will discuss poems, offer critiques, and practice methods to explore memory and use imagination to find material for new poems. (Each poet will workshop three poems during three separate workshops). Through discussion of submitted poems, and some exercises, we’ll examine and discover ways the unconscious might be harnessed in the service of poetry writing. I hope you will learn new approaches that will make poetry writing more effortless and more rewarding, and ways to revise poems that you will surprise you. Bring 3 poems for workshop discussion.

We will pay close attention, in minute detail, to all the elements that go into writing a poem. So: we'll do word by word, line by line readings. Frost said that the primary way to get to the reader's heart and mind is through the reader's ear. The sound, the noise of a poem, demands our attention. We must be tough, honest and direct with each other's work and also be generous, thoughtful and never condescending or dismissive. A good workshop can do both. Bring in three or four poems, seventeen copies of each, for discussion.

A poem is a conundrum. It is made from language, and yet seeks to describe that which exists beyond or outside of ordinary speech. It begins in pursuit of one idea, image, concept or question, and enacts a “turn” or “transformation” that reveals more than what was initially sought. And the impact of poems—good poems—is to change the reader (and, hopefully, the poet) in ways that resonate well beyond the scope of a single idea or theme. With these ideas in mind, we will spend the first half of each session discussing a brief selection of published poems. The second half will focus on critique of student work. Each participant will have the opportunity to workshop 3 poems in the span of 5 sessions. Upon acceptance to the workshop, poems will be submitted via email by January 1, 2013.

Paul Valéry once pointed out that “A poet’s function . . . is not to experience the poetic state: that is a private affair. His function is to create it in others.” How can we create for our reader, in poems, an experience of our “private,” subjective ardor, be it erotic, ecstatic, melancholy, religious, political, quotidian, cosmic, or other? Metaphor, elision, syntax, juxtaposition, Heaney’s “binding secret” of sound textures, sampling, inter-textuality, varied registers of diction—what Dickinson called her “gem tactics” and Anne Carson: ruses. We will look at how a discerning use of these and other poetic devices help us to say the unsayable, deepen and open our poems to what is at stake in them, as language acts, as testimony, as witness, as play. Workshop will involve constructive critique of student poems and generation of new material. Participants will send 3-4 poems in advance of the workshop.


(click each poet's link to view their workshop description)

B. H. FAIRCHILD’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Southern Review, Poetry, Sewanee Review, and many other journals and anthologies, including Best American Poems. He is the author of six collections of poetry. Usher, was chosen by the LA Times as one of their favorite 25 books in poetry or fiction published in 2009. Trilogy, (2009 PennyRoyal Press) is a fine press limited-edition, and Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest, (Norton 2003) received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Gold Medal in Poetry from the California Book Awards, the Texas Institute of Letters Poetry Award, and the Bobbitt Award from the Library of Congress. The Art of the Lathe, won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and William Carlos Williams Award, the PEN West Poetry Award, California Book Award, and Natalie Ornish Award from the Texas Institute of Letters. Fairchild has received numerous fellowships and grants from the NEA, Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Lannan Foundation and recently received Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and essay. He teaches at California State University, San Bernardino.

Find out more on The Poetry Foundation website: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/b-h-fairchild, or read his poem, Old Men Playing Basketball, http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/27880, or hear him read from Usher, “The Gray Man,” http://poemsoutloud.net/audio/archive/bh_fairchild_reads_the_gray_man/.

TERRANCE HAYES is the author of Lighthead (Penguin 2010), winner of the 2010 National Book Award and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and Hurston Wright award. His other poetry books are Wind in a Box, Muscular Music, and Hip Logic. Other honors include a Whiting Writers Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is a professor of creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

JANE HIRSHFIELD is the author of seven much honored books of poetry, including Come, Thief (Knopf, 2011) and a now-classic collection of essays, Nine Gates: Entering The Mind of Poetry (Harper Collins, 1997). She has also edited and co-translated four books collecting the work of world poets of the past. Hirshfield’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, the Times Literary Supplement, The Washington Post, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, and seven editions of The Best American Poetry. Honors include The California Book Award, The Poetry Center Book Award, the Northern California Book Award, three Pushcart Prizes, finalist selection for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts. A frequent presenter at universities and literary festival both in the US and abroad, in 2012, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

TONY HOAGLAND has published four collections of poems, of which the latest are Unincorporated Persons In The Late Honda Dynasty, and What Narcissism Means to Me. His recognitions include the Jackson Poetry Prize, the O.B. Hardisson Award for teaching, the James Laughlin Award, the Brittingham Prize, and the Mark Twain Award, for humor in American Poetry, as well as fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. His essays about poetry appear widely. In 2008 Graywolf Press published a book of craft essays, titled Real Sofistakashun. He teaches in the writing program at the University of Houston.

LAURA KASISCHKE has published eight collections of poetry and eight novels. For her most recent poetry collection, Space, In Chains, she received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other poetry collections include, Lilies, Without, Gardening in the Dark, Wild Brides, Housekeeping in a Dream, Fire and Flower and What It Wasn't. Her poems and stories have been published in Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic , The Kenyon Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow and has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Michigan, and lives with her husband and son in Chelsea, Michigan.

THOMAS LUX's latest collection latest collection is Child Made of Sand, (Houghton Mifflin 2012). Other books include God Particles, The Cradle Place; The Street of Clocks; New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995, a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Blind Swimmer: Selected Early Poems: 1970-1975; and Split Horizon, winner of the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award. His distinguished teaching career includes twenty-seven years on the writing faculty and as Director of the MFA Program in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence. He has taught at Emerson College, Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers, and other universities. A finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry and recipient of three NEA grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Lux holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry and directs the McEver Visiting Writers Program at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

TRACY K. SMITH is the author of three books of poetry. Her most recent collection, Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011), was selected as a New York Times Notable Book for 2011 and won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Duende (2007) won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and an Essence Literary Award. The Body's Question (2003) was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005. She teaches Creative Writing at Princeton University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

LISA RUSS SPAAR is the author of three poetry collections Satin Cash, Blue Venus, and Glass Town, for which she received a Rona Jaffe Award for Emerging Women Writers in 2000. Forthcoming is a new collection, Vanitas, Rough, and a collection of her essays on contemporary poetry by Drunken Boat Editions due in early 2013. She is editor of Acquainted With the Night: Insomnia Poems , and All That Mighty Heart: London Poems (Univ. of Virginia Press, 2008). Honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2009 Library of Virginia Award for Poetry, Outstanding Faculty Award of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (2010), and the Carole Weinstein Poetry Award (2011), and awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Spaar serves as poetry editor for the Chronicle of Higher Education Review and is Founder and Director of the Area Program in Poetry Writing at the University of Virginia, where she is Professor of English.


SALLY BLIUMIS-DUNN’s books are, Second Skin published by Wind Publications in 2010 and Talking Underwater, (Wind 2007). Her poems have appeared in BigCityLit, Lumina, New York Times, Nimrod, The Paris Review, PBS News Hour, Prairie Schooner, Poetry London, RATTLE, Rattapallax, Spoon River Poetry Review and in the Helicon Nine anthology, Chance of A Ghost. In 2008, she was invited to read in the “Love Poems Program” at the Library of Congress. In 2002, she was a finalist for the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize. She teaches Modern Poetry and Creative Writing at Manhattanville College and lives in Armonk, New York with her husband, John. They share four children, Ben, Angie, Kaitlin and Fiona.

LORNA KNOWLES BLAKE’s first collection of poems, Permanent Address, won the Richard Snyder Memorial Prize from the Ashland Poetry Press. Poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in The Hudson Review, Literary Imagination, The Raintown Review andThe Tampa Review. She has been the recipient of a residency from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship from the Sewanee Writers Conference. Currently she teaches creative writing at the 92ndStreet Y and serves on the editorial board of Barrow Street. She lives in New York City, New Orleans and Cape Cod.

GINGER MURCHISON’s chapbook, Out Here, was published by Jeanne Duval Editions in 2008. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she has published articles, book reviews, and interviews, and her poems have appeared in recent publications of Horticulture, Atlanta Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Terminus Magazine and several anthologies. She is a graduate of the Warren-Wilson low-residency MFA program and serves as editor in chief of the acclaimed Cortland Review. Murchison lives with her husband Clyde Mynatt in Atlanta.


BILLY COLLINS, U.S. Poet Laureate 2001-2003
Billy Collins is an American phenomenon. No poet since Robert Frost has managed to combine high critical acclaim with such broad popular appeal. His work has appeared in a variety of periodicals including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The American Scholar, he is a Guggenheim fellow and a New York Public Library “Literary Lion.” His last three collections of poems have broken sales records for poetry. His readings are usually standing room only, and his audience – enhanced tremendously by his appearances on National Public Radio – includes people of all backgrounds and age groups. The poems themselves best explain this phenomenon. The typical Collins poem opens on a clear and hospitable note but soon takes an unexpected turn; poems that begin in irony may end in a moment of lyric surprise. No wonder Collins sees his poetry as “a form of travel writing” and considers humor “a door into the serious.” It is a door that many thousands of readers have opened with amazement and delight.

Billy Collins has published nine collections of poetry, including Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, Picnic, Lightning, Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New & Selected Poems, Nine Horses, The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems, and Ballistics, and most recently, Horoscopes for the Dead. A collection of his haiku, titled She Was Just Seventeen, was published by Modern Haiku Press in fall 2006. He also edited two anthologies of contemporary poetry: Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Everyday, was the guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2006, and edited Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems about Birds, with paintings by David Allen Sibley.

Included among the honors Billy Collins has received are fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has also been awarded the Oscar Blumenthal Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize, and the Levinson Prize — all awarded by Poetry magazine. In October 2004, Collins was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Mark Twain Award for Humor in Poetry.

In June 2001, Billy Collins was appointed United States Poet Laureate 2001-2003. In January 2004, he was named New York State Poet Laureate 2004-06. Billy Collins is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, as well as a Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College.

“Luring his readers into the poem with humor, Mr. Collins leads them unwittingly into deeper, more serious places, a kind of journey from the familiar to quirky to unexpected territory, sometimes tender, often profound.” — The New York Times


Marty McConnellMARTY MCCONNELL - Marty McConnell’s work explores the intersection of gender, sexuality, religion, and history. Using the perspectives of figures as diverse as Catholic saints, pop culture icons, and the population of the traditional tarot deck, McConnell’s poems both comment on and illuminate what it means to live in early 21st century America.

She holds an MFA in creative writing/poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and competed in six National Poetry Slams with the NYC/louderARTS team. McConnell has performed and facilitated workshops at schools and festivals around the country. She co-curated the flagship reading series of the New York City-based louderARTS Project, and appeared on both the second and fifth seasons of HBO's Def Poetry Jam. She returned to Chicago in 2009 to co-found Vox Ferus, an organization dedicated to empowering and energizing individuals and communities through the written and spoken word.

Her work has been published in numerous anthologies, including Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Movement, Spoken Word Revolution Redux, Women of the Bowery, Homewrecker: An Adultery Reader, Bullets and Butterflies: Queer Spoken Word Poetry, Will Work for Peace, Women.Period and In Our Own Words: Poetry of Generation X, as well as journals including Salt Hill Review, Rattapallax, Fourteen Hills, Pedestal, Boxcar Poetry Review, The November 3rd Club, Thirteenth Moon, 2River View, Lodestar Quarterly, Blue Fifth Review, and Rattle. Her poem, "marrying the violence," was named "Best of the Net" in 2007, and Bob Holman of About.com selected her CD, "the swallowed vowel" as one of the best spoken word CDs of that year.

She worked with underserved NYC youth as associate director of Urban Word NYC, until legendary film and tv producer, Norman Lear, tapped her to be one of four poets creating the spoken word portion of Declare Yourself, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign aiming to energize young voters to participate in the political process in the 2004 election year. She lives in Chicago, and travels the country performing and leading workshops.

RIVES is a poet and multimedia artist from New York City and The Road. He favors wordplay, romance and live experiences. He was kicked out of UCLA for attending too long. His best idea ever was not: quoting Catullus on HBO's "Def Poetry Jam." He was a "Def Poetry Jam" touring cast member, the 2004 National Poetry Slam champ with Team Hollywood, and he is the co-host of the annual TEDActive conference in Palm Springs. Rives blogs at shopliftwindchimes.com