Workshops are limited to 12 qualified participants and three auditors to provide a meaningful level of discussion, and careful, informed attention to your work. You may apply online to attend a workshop as a participant. Beginning poets, or those shy about sharing their poems, should consider auditing a workshop as a great way to learn by observing and listening. Review our Application Guidelines for more details and the workshop descriptions that follow below.
All Things Counter, Original, Spare, Strange with CHARD deNIORD
Poetic 'Yield' with LINDA GREGERSON
Word By Word, Line By Line with THOMAS LUX
Listen To This: Sound & Structure in Writing Poems with MAURICE MANNING
The Rib Cage Of The Poem: Writing Form From The Inside Out with MOLLY PEACOCK
Naming The Nameless with BRENDA SHAUGHNESSY
Straining The Borders with PATRICIA SMITH
To Delight, To Instruct, And To Wound with ROBERT WRIGLEY
ALL THINGS COUNTER, ORIGINAL, SPARE, STRANGE with CHARD deNIORD
This workshop will combine generative prompts and close critiquing of at least three poems by each student. We will focus on the lyric and lyrical narrative, concentrating in particular on “the news that stays news” in a world that has become inundated with news. We will entertain such questions as: what is the nature of the postmodern lyric? How best to incorporate information into the lyric? Can the parts of a lyric in today’s synchronic environment still resonate as transcendent “broken music”? In our attempts to capture a fresh voice and electric economy, we will explore innovative ways in received forms and free verse to wed the unconscious with the conscious, original expression with craft. In addition to our writing and critiquing assignments, we will read several lyrical poems by traditional and contemporary poets, including Emily Dickinson, John Clare, Natasha Trethewey, Bruce Smith, Ruth Stone, Terrance Hayes, James Wright, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Peter Gizzi, and Peter Everwine. Please bring 17 copies of three poems to the first meeting.
POETIC ‘YIELD’ with LINDA GREGERSON
When does it become a poem? What can you do when it floats on the surface and stalls? What's the difference between the almost-passable look-alike and the real, the un-fake-able, thing? If we enter the poem to be changed, to discover connections or depths we could not have plotted beforehand, what place does that leave for craft and deliberation? How can we "plan" to be surprised? We’ll look together at a number of contemporary poems that, using contrasting methods and materials, successfully practice the art of discovery; and we’ll experiment with varied compositional strategies that seek to maximize our own poetic “yield.” By way of introducing yourselves, please bring two poems-in-progress to the first day of workshop. For the rest of the conference, we’ll be dividing our time between these poems and the new ones you write in response to prompts. I think you’ll be surprised, not only at the sheer amount of new work you’ll generate in six short days, but at your own limberness in the multiple techniques of discovery-on-the-page.
WORD BY WORD, LINE BY LINE with THOMAS LUX
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.
LISTEN TO THIS: SOUND and STRUCTURE IN WRITING POEMS with MAURICE MANNING
Robert Frost once said a poem enters our ear before it enters our eye. I’ve found that a compelling observation. Poems indeed have a certain sound: they sound a certain way, utilize various means for making sound, and through patterns and structures of sound achieve various effects. Some poems, in fact, are better listened to than read. This workshop will look at traditional sound effects poets have used, such as meter, but also consider figures, such as simile and imagery, and how even the figure can be related to sound. In addition to carefully looking at participants’ work, we will read poems provided by the instructor, and do hands-on writing exercises. Participants will send three to five poems in advance, by mail before January 5th, and bring 17 copies of each to the first workshop meeting.
THE RIB CAGE OF THE POEM: WRITING FORM FROM THE INSIDE OUT with MOLLY PEACOCK
In this workshop we will think of poetic structures as a rib cage to let a poem breathe—letting go of the idea that a received form can trap inspiration. Instead, we will explore the surprises of imagination that can occur with forms. Along with student work, we will look at classic and contemporary triolets, sonnets, and villanelles, stretching our ideas of structure from a how-to point of view. To help us in writing from the inside out, there will be daily assignments/suggestions with individually tailored ideas for creating rib cages for your poems. No daily assignment needs to be completed to perfection. My aim is to leave you with an orchardful of possibilities and the courage to try them. We will consider poems in the spirit of expansion, not in terms of perfectionism. Our motto? In the attempt is the success. Participants will submit three poems in advance, considered to be unfinished and that have not been in a workshop elsewhere.
NAMING THE NAMELESS with BRENDA SHAUGHNESSY
Most of life’s experiences transcend or defy explanation, yet it is often precisely that which is confounding, mysterious, elusive, or fleeting we feel called (or pulled) to write about. “Poetry exists to give name to the nameless.” (Audre Lorde.) A poem functions as a work of art that translates the ineffable into language—heightened or familiar—that comes as close as possible to lived experience. We’ll explore key poetic forms and techniques that utilize memory, personal history, grief, celebration, desire, trauma, and sensation as valuable tools by which to powerfully render unwieldy human experience in language. Brief readings will be assigned; short craft lessons and discussion are followed by intensive workshop of participants’ poems. Participants will bring three poems, 17 copies each, for which input is desired, to the first workshop meeting.
STRAINING THE BORDERS with PATRICIA SMITH
In a generative workshop designed to elicit discomfort, we will stretch the boundaries of the ordinary and predictable by searching for unexpected entry points into our work. We will go beyond discomfort and write through the walls that seek to suppress the possibilities of our poems. The workshop time will be divided between critique of existing poems and the crafting of new work. Handouts of poems that address craft and inspire us will be distributed and reviewed each day. Participants will bring four poems (17 copies each) to the first meeting, understanding all four may not be addressed directly in class.
TO DELIGHT, TO INSTRUCT, AND TO WOUND with ROBERT WRIGLEY
There are poems that do one of these things. There are others that do two. It may be that the best do all three. But what is the source of a poem’s delight? How does a poem instruct without becoming overly pedantic or didactic? And how does a poem leave us so happily wounded? This is a workshop that means to be both generative, resulting in new poems, and reactive, confronting and commenting on existing ones. We’ll discuss the terms “delight,” “instruct,” and “wound”; we’ll talk about models that do one or more of these things; and we’ll work to do the same. We’ll write (and share what we write) in class, and we’ll write away from class. Bring writing materials and two poems you want or need response to, with 17 copies for the entire class. Bring good humor, generosity, and rigor.
ONE-ON-ONE CONFERENCES AND FACULTY
Participants whose tuition is paid-in-full may schedule a one-on-one conference with one of our experienced faculty for a one-hour session. There is an additional cost of $95 for these conferences, scheduled outside workshop sessions. Ten page conference manuscripts must be prepared in advance, and conferences are scheduled on a first come, first served basis.
SALLY BLIUMIS-DUNN’s books are: Second Skin (published by Wind Publications, 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.
NICKOLE BROWN’s books include her debut, Sister, a novel-in-poems (Red Hen Press, 2007) and Fanny Says, a biography-in-poems of her grandmother (to be published by BOA Editions in May 2015). She studied at Oxford University as an English Speaking Union Scholar, received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and was an editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council. She worked at the independent literary press, Sarabande Books, for ten years and was a National Publicity Consultant for Arktoi Books. Currently, she teaches at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Series in Prose Poetry.
GINGER MURCHISON together with Thomas Lux founded POETRY at TECH, where she served as Associate Director for five years and has been one of its McEver Visiting Chairs in Poetry since 2009. A three-time Pushcart nominee, she is a graduate of Warren Wilson's M.F.A. Program for Writers and Editor-in-Chief of the acclaimed Cortland Review. Her first chapbook of poems, Out Here, was published by Jeanne Duval Editions in 2008. She has published interviews with A.E. Stallings and Stephen Dobyns, and has poems published in Atlanta Review, Chattahoochee Review, Terminus Magazine, Poetry Kanto, and Mead and Connotations online.