Three-Day Workshops/Seminars—Run Wed, Thur, and Fri pm. Cost $900 (Includes panels & evening readings, lunch & dinner)
Two-Day Workshops/Seminars—Run Thur/Fri pm. Cost $250
Mahogany Browne, Dick Davis, Clare Rossini.
One-Day Workshops— Cost $125
Panels & Evening Readings, Lunch & Dinner Only—Cost $600
with Dan Brown
These are tough times for subjects in poetry. Many current poems—e.g., the "elliptical" and "language" sorts—don't even have a subject (to put it mildly). The danger in this was seen long ago by Frost, who spoke of "undirected associations" that kick a poet "from one chance suggestion to another in all directions as of a hot afternoon in the life of a grasshopper." In this workshop we'll look at the case for subjects in poetry. What sorts of subjects can a poem have? What can a subject do—and not do—for a poem (and a poet)? Can we make finding new subjects easier? We'll explore these questions—central ones for poetry, yet little considered—with reference to subjects of poems by established poets, and subjects for prospective poems brought to the table by workshop participants.
Daniel Brown's poems have appeared in Poetry, Partisan Review, PN Review, Parnassus, Raritan and other journals, as well as in a number of anthologies including The Swallow Anthology of New American Poetry (ed. David Yezzi), The Writer's Path (ed. Molly Peacock), and Poetry 180 (ed. Billy Collins). His work has received a Pushcart prize, and his collection Taking the Occasion won the New Criterion Poetry Prize. A new collection, What More?, is out from Orchises Press. Brown's criticism has appeared in The Harvard Book Review, Parnassus, PN Rview, The New Criterion, Contemporary Poetry Review, and Partisan Magazine. His audio-visual essay, Bach, Beethoven, Bartok: Confluence in Music is available from eBook retailers.
Ekphragrance: Writing the Invisible Art of Scent
with Jehanne Dubrow and Moira Egan
A whiff. A stink. A trail. Sillage. Whatever we call them, smells are all around us, yet remain elusive, difficult to pin to the page. And while poets frequently speak about the importance of writing through the five senses, most of us privilege sight in our poems. As Diane Ackerman explains: "Smell is the mute sense, the one without words." This workshop will explore techniques for conjuring the ephemeral and intensely evocative (yet vastly underrepresented) sense of smell. We will discuss examples of fragrant poems; we will smell perfumes. Our aromatic inquiries will form the basis for rich experimentations in ekphrasis and ars perfumica. Working with guided activities and literary synæsthesia, we will draft new poems, exploring memory, place, philosophy, religion, politics—even the making of art itself.
Jehanne Dubrow is the author of six poetry collections, including most recently Dots & Dashes (SIU, 2017), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award. Her work has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, The New England Review, and The Southern Review. She is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of North Texas.
Moira Egan's most recent collections are Synæsthesium, which won The New Criterion Poetry Prize (Criterion Books, 2017); and Olfactorium, a bilingual selection of poems based on perfumes (Italic Pequod, 2018). Previous collections are Botanica Arcana/Strange Botany; Hot Flash Sonnets; Spin; La Seta della Cravatta/The Silk of the Tie; Bar Napkin Sonnets; and Cleave. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry, The Book of Forms, The Book of Scented Things, and Measure for Measure. She has been a Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and has held writing fellowships at the St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Malta; the Civitella Ranieri Center; the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center; and the James Merrill House. With her husband, Damiano Abeni, Moira has published volumes in translation in Italy by authors including John Ashbery, John Barth, Aimee Bender, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anthony Hecht, Ben Lerner, Charles Simic, Mark Strand, Ocean Vuong, and Charles Wright, whose collection, Italia, won the Benno Geiger Prize in Translation from the Fondazione Cini in Venice.
The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Seminar with Anna M. Evans
Participants in this women-only seminar commit to the preparation of a rigorous 3000+ word scholarly essay on a woman poet for the Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project, an online database currently containing 50+ such essays founded by Dr. Kim Bridgford.
Essays should be about one third biography and two thirds critical analysis, written using MLA format, and include 3-4 poems. Each essay should aim to provide a critical introduction to the poet written at a level suitable for undergraduate readers.
Anna M. Evans' poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, American Arts Quarterly, and 32 Poems. She gained her MFA from Bennington College, and is the Editor of the Raintown Review. Recipient of Fellowships from the MacDowell Artists' Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and winner of the 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Readers' Choice Award, she currently teaches at West Windsor Art Center and Richard Stockton College of NJ. Her sonnet collection, Sisters & Courtesans, is available from White Violet Press. Her new collection, Under Dark Waters: Surviving the Titanic, is out the spring of 2018 from Able Muse Press. Visit her online at annamevans.com.
with Joshua Mehigan
Since its invention by Surrey in 1540, blank verse has proven to be one of the most dynamic and versatile forms in English. Without it, no Paradise Lost, King Lear, Prelude, or Aurora Leigh. No "Ulysses," "Directive," or "Sunday Morning." Blank verse can yield a megalith like Paradise Lost, the "divine chit-chat" of Cowper, or the crackerbarrel vernacular of Frost. Or it can be, as it was for Shakespeare, what the Bonneville salt flats are for race car drivers: a place to open things up and test all your powers of innovation and execution. In this workshop, we'll look at various expressive textures of blank verse (pyrotechnic, monumental, meditative, conversational) and consider some of the local effects of timing and emphasis that are available to writers working in the form. We'll also read a diverse selection of examples from the 17th century to the 21st, in addition to poetry by workshop participants.
Bio: Joshua Mehigan's first book, The Optimist, was a finalist for the 2004 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His second, Accepting the Disaster, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2014 and subsequently cited as a best book of the year in the TLS, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. His poems have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Poetry, which awarded him its 2013 Levinson Prize. He has has received writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (2011) and the Guggenheim Foundation (2015).
Limbs and Language
with Mahogany Browne
This workshop is designed to investigate how our memories inform our poetry. Focusing on imagery and new ways in which we look at the body as a landscape, our dreams as a blueprint and our yesterdays as an almanac. This generative writing workshop will consist of five components: analyzation, discussion, writing, editing & performance. This journey will bloom new writing in an effort to create an urgent dialogue with our limbs as language.
Mahogany Browne, a Cave Canem, Poets House & Serenbe Focus alum, is the author of several books including Redbone (nominated for NAACP Outstanding Literary Works), Dear Twitter: Love Letters Hashed Out On-line, recommended by Small Press Distribution & About.com Best Poetry Books of 2010. Mahogany bridges the gap between lyrical poets and literary emcee. Browne has toured Germany, Amsterdam, England, Canada and recently Australia as 1/3 of the cultural arts exchange project Global Poetics. Her journalism work has been published in magazines Uptown, KING, XXL, The Source, Canada's The Word and UK's MOBO. Her poetry has been published in literary journals Pluck, Manhattanville Review, Muzzle, Union Station Mag, Literary Bohemian, Bestiary, Joint & The Feminist Wire. She is the co-editor of forthcoming anthology The Break Beat Poets: Black Girl Magic and and chapbook collection Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books). She is an Urban Word NYC Artistic Director (as seen on HBO's Brave New Voices), founder of Women Writers of Color Reading Room, Director of BLM@Pratt Programming and facilitates performance poetry and writing workshops throughout the country. Browne is also the publisher of Penmanship Books, the Nuyorican Poets Café Poetry Program Director and Friday Night Slam curator and recent graduate from Pratt Institute MFA Writing & Activism program.
Turning "Quite a Nice Idea" into a Poem
with Dick Davis
Philip Larkin once said of a great deal of contemporary poetry "Yes, that's quite a nice idea, but why can't he make a poem of it?" Our workshop will be about ways of turning "quite a nice idea" into a poem. Sometimes the crucial idea, or event, can be only obliquely referred to in a poem that seems for much of its length to be about something else—Browning does this often in his dramatic monologues (as in 'My Last Duchess', which is really about a murder, though we only see this clearly when we are well into the poem). Sometimes the ostensible subject can be said apparently just for itself, but at the very last moment we see that the poem is "really" about something else (D.G.Rossetti's 'The Woodspurge', for example), sometimes it can be the generative spark that produces a poem that celebrates an ideal or obsession of the author's (many of Borges's poems), sometimes an anecdote or description that is standing in for a psychological state (Christina Rossetti's 'My Heart is Like a Singing Bird', Louise Bogan's 'Last Hill in a Vista', many of Larkin's own poems), sometimes knowledge we bring from outside the poem ironizes it and makes it wholly different from what it at first seems to be (many of Cavafy's "historical" poems), and so on. We shall look at these and other ways of proceeding, and try our hands at some of them.
Dick Davis was born in Portsmouth, England, in 1945, and educated at the universities of Cambridge (B.A. and M.A. in English Literature) and Manchester (PhD. in Medieval Persian Literature). He lived in Iran for 8 years (1970-1978), and also for some time in both Italy and Greece. He was Professor of Persian and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Ohio State University from 2002 until 2012. He has written scholarly works on both English and Persian literature, as well as eight volumes of his own poetry; his publications include volumes of poetry and verse translation chosen as books of the year by The Sunday Times (UK) 1989; The Daily Telegraph (UK) 1989; The Economist (UK) 2002; The Washington Post 2010, and The Times Literary Supplement (UK) 2013. He has published numerous book-length verse translations from medieval Persian, most recently, Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz (2012). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
A Feast of Free-Verse Forms
with Clare Rossini
Free verse form? Isn't that an oxymoron? But in fact, many free-verse poets have evolved an organized infrastructure of sound, line, white space, and stanza to give their poems a distinctive look on the page and—perhaps even more important—an original music. We'll look at a wide variety of models by contemporary American poets and examine one another's poems, imagining new ways for them to sit on the page. A packet of inspiring examples will be provided to each participant.
Clare Rossini's third collection, Lingo, was published by University of Akron Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals, including The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, The Ploughshares, and Poetry; in online publications such as Drunken Boat and Poetry Daily; as well as in textbooks and anthologies, including Wild Dreams Poetry Daily Essentials, Poets for a New Century, and the Best American Poetry series. Her poems have been featured on Connecticut Public Radio and the BBC. She has received fellowships from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Maxwell Shepherd Foundation, and the Bush Foundation. Rossini taught for many years in the Vermont College low-residency MFA Program. She currently serves as Artist-in-Residence in the English Department at Trinity College in Hartford, teaching creative writing courses and directing an arts outreach program which places college students in inner-city public school art classrooms.
Poetry & Healing
with Rafael Campo
The earliest of civilizations, from many Native American cultures to that of the ancient Greeks, recognized an inextricable interrelationship between poetry and healing; surely, the best poems we have today demand that we listen, and not just with our ears, but with our whole hearts. In this workshop, we'll examine the ways in which poems join us empathetically, through their sound and structure as much as through their insistent invitations to share our diverse human experiences. We'll ponder how poems can make effective use of the richly complex tensions between such linked notions as authorship/authority, confession/ confinement, hyperbole/humility, and identity/immunity. To best achieve our goals, we'll devote some time to reading together works by Thom Gunn, Marilyn Hacker, Maxine Kumin, Frank O'Hara, Anne Sexton, and William Carlos Williams.
Goals: 1) To explore and understand the link between creative self-expression and healing; 2) To define a "biocultural" narrative of the illness experience, in contrast to the restrictive biomedical narrative encountered in most health care settings; 3) To investigate the historical connections between language, art, and therapeusis; 4) To develop strategies for integrating humanistic work in the delivery of health care.
Rafael Campo, M.A., M.D., D. Litt., is a poet and essayist who teaches and practices internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He is also on the faculty of Lesley University's Creative Writing MFA Program. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Poetry Series award, and a Lambda Literary Award for his poetry; his third collection of poetry, Diva (Duke University Press, 2000), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Enemy (DUP, 2007), won the Sheila Motton Book Award from the New England Poetry Club. His work has appeared in many periodicals including The Nation, The New Republic, the New York Times Magazine, Paris Review, Poetry, Salon.com, Slate.com, and the Washington Post Book World.
Teaching Poetry Writing in Perilous Times
with Allison Joseph
How can poetry writing teachers adapt their practices in a world of fires, hurricanes, civil unrest, and racial strife? Can poetry be an agent of healing and change for students reluctant to discuss such issues? Through looking at poems engaging past historical occurrences, participants in this workshop will be guided to think about how students can work with volatile subject matter. Poets to be examined: Robert Hayden, Patricia Smith, Marge Piercy, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, Osip Mandelstam, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Gabriela Mistral.
Allison Joseph is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where she also serves as editor and poetry editor of Crab Orchard Review. She is also the founder of No Chair Press, a chapbook imprint serving women poets who write in traditional form. Her latest books are Mortal Rewards (White Violet Press), The Purpose of Hands (Glass Lyre Press), Mercurial (Mayapple Press), and What Once You Loved (Barefoot Muse Press). Her next book, Confessions of a Barefaced Woman, is forthcoming in Spring 2018 from Red Hen Press.
Her books and chapbooks include What Keeps Us Here (Ampersand Press), Soul Train (Carnegie Mellon University Press), In Every Seam (University of Pittsburgh), Wordly Pleasures (Word Tech), Imitation of Life (Carnegie Mellon UP), Voice: Poems (Mayapple Press), My Father's Kites (Steel Toe Books), Trace Particles (Backbone Press), Little Epiphanies (Imaginary Friend Press), Multitudes (forthcoming, Word Tech Communications), and The Purpose of Hands (forthcoming, Glass Lyre Press).
Fixed and Mixed: Verse and Colloquial Idiom
with Timothy Steele
As deeply as we poets love verse, we sometimes worry that it excludes too much. Though its meters, rhymes, and stanzas can give language singular focus and grace, they can also heighten speech in ways that prevent us from dealing with subjects as richly and variably as good prose writers do. Further, many subjects, especially those of a familiar or quotidian nature, require understated treatment. Conspicuous verbal effects merely distort them. Our challenge, then, is write verse that retains its formal virtues while welcoming the full scope of our experience. How do we write lines that not only organize rhythm and rhetoric—and that can access the higher registers of style—but that also can be quiet, fresh, and alert and can allow for a sensitive assimilation of detail and easy extensions of argument? Our workshop will suggest answers to this question. Factors we'll consider include diction, sentence construction (variety of syntax being especially important in verse, since it helps modulate the regularity of meter), and figurative language (when to use it and when not to). In the process, we'll look at poems by recent poets (e. g., Bishop, Wilbur, Larkin, Bowers, and Gunn) who in the course of their careers explored and achieved an effectively colloquial manner. Ultimately, we'll relate our general topic to particular issues that we're dealing with in our own poems.
Timothy Steele's collections of poems include Uncertainties and Rest, Sapphics Against Anger and Other Poems, The Color Wheel, and Toward the Winter Solstice. He has also published two books about poetry—Missing Measures and All the Fun's in How You Say a Thing—and has edited The Poems of J. V. Cunningham.
Poet as Ventriloquist: Writing the Dramatic Monologue
with Marilyn Taylor
Hasn't there always been something irresistible, something empowering, about putting your own words into another person's mouth, causing them to say things they might never have expressed themselves? Poets can actually accomplish this remarkable feat with a dramatic monologue (sometimes called a "persona poem")—i.e. "a poem spoken by a character, rather than by the poet." Which character? Almost anyone you like—an actual historical figure, someone fascinating taken from your own life; a fictional persona, a pop-culture icon—even someone you've invented out of thin air. It's a near-perfect poetic vehicle for expressing respect for your poem's speaker, your admiration, anger, forgiveness—even your scorn, if you're so inclined. With the help of some great examples, a stimulating experiment or two, and also by taking a good long look at some of the ethical ramifications of speaking in a voice that's not your own, this workshop can give you a great start on practicing ventriloquism of the highest order.
Marilyn L. Taylor, former Poet Laureate of the state of Wisconsin and the city of Milwaukee, is the author of six poetry collections. Her award-winning poems and essays have appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Poetry, American Scholar, Measure, Able Muse, Rhino, Light, Ted Kooser's "American Life in Poetry" column, and in the Random House anthology titled Villanelles. She won the Margaret Ried Award for poetry in forms from Winning Writers. and was awarded First Place in contests sponsored by The Atlanta Review, Passager, The Ledge, Dogwood, and the GSU Review. Taylor taught poetry and poetics for fifteen years at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and served for five years as a Contributing Editor for THE WRITER magazine, where her widely-read "Poet to Poet" column appeared bimonthly. She currently facilitates independent poetry workshops and presentations in communities throughout Wisconsin and elsewhere, and through the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Division of Continuing Studies and Lawrence University's Bjorklunden Seminar Center in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin.
Getting the Job Done
with Jon Tribble
This workshop will focus on writing about work you have done or observed a family member or friend involved in that defines so much of a person's life. We will read and discuss examples of work-related poems from several different types of labor—fast food, domestic, factory work, and white collar—and write exercises that will help you generate poems of your own. We will be looking at Philip Levine, Rita Dove, Jen Fitzgerald, Virgil Suarez and my own work as examples of ways to approach writing about work.
Jon Tribble's newest collection of poems, God of the Kitchen from Glass Lyre Press, is about the experiences and culture of working at Kentucky Fried Chicken as a teenager in the late 1970s. He is also the author of Natural State (Glass Lyre Press, 2016.) and And There Is Many a Good Thing (Salmon Poetry, 2017). His poems have appeared in print journals and anthologies, including Ploughshares, Poetry, Crazyhorse, Quarterly West, and The Jazz Poetry Anthology, and online at storySouth, The Blue Mountain Review, and Vox Populi. He teaches at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he is the managing editor of Crab Orchard Review and the series editor of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry published by SIU Press.