In addition to workshops, we offer a limited number of 30-minute Private Portfolio Consultations.

Note: More 2018 Workshops to come. . .

Naomi Shihab Nye, Ways of Beginning

Everyone bring a poem you wrote whose own beginning surprised you when it popped up!

Tomás Morín, Random Gifts: Finding Poems in the Accidental

It’s easy to not notice when language makes itself strange around us. In this generative workshop, we will practice how to find and grow the seeds of poetry in unintentional language just as Elizabeth Bishop did when she read “man-moth” in The New York Times, a misprint for “mammoth” that led her to write her marvelous poem “The Man-Moth.” Bring to class a list with the following: 3 things you have misheard, 3 things you have misread, and 3 things you have mistyped. A bonus if you can bring a misprint, too.

Liz Garton Scanlon, Writing Picture Books: The Rules and Wonder of Crafting Verse for Young People

Writing for children appeals to many of us, both because of the charming audience and the apparent simplicity of the task, but it’s a more complex endeavor than you’d think. Picture book poet and novelist Liz Garton Scanlon will share two decades of lessons learned via her many books for young people — and her many rejections! Speed your own learning curve by beginning to understand — and practice — the form and the craft.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Who Said Nights Were for Sleep: Writing Aubades and Nocturnes

Jumping off this tongue-in-cheek question famously posed by Marilyn Monroe, we’ll look at classic and contemporary aubades (poems of morning good-byes) and nocturnes (poems that take place at night) as well as a little bit of natural history of the sun and nocturnal animals to jump-start our own ways of writing light and dark, night and day.

Emmy Pérez, The Poetics of Luminosity

In “The Art of Finding,” Linda Gregg suggests that luminosity in a poem can make “the difference between a publishable poem and one that matters.” Statements on the art of writing poetry can also provide thought-provoking advice for living a more meaningful and potentially transformative life, suggesting an obvious connection. In one of his letters to a young poet, Rainer Maria Rilke suggests that the poet “be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves” and “to live everything. Live the questions now.” And in writing about her poetics in Borderlands/La Frontera, Gloria Anzaldúa states, “I am the dialogue between my Self and el espíritu del mundo. I change myself, I change the world.” In this workshop, we will discuss some of these luminous philosophies and articulate individual questions and statements to help reflect on and perhaps refocus or reinvigorate our own poetry writing processes as they relate to the kinds of lives we are living or want to live.

Javier Zamora, Stealing from Márquez

We will read the first chapter of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, and learn techniques to “steal” from him. With this material we will craft our own original poems without the fear of plagiarism. Please read the first chapter of the novel. If you don’t mind, print or copy the first twenty pages and bring them. [You may be able to find the book online.]

Roger Reeves, The End of the World 

In this workshop, we will reject poetry in order to write poetry. We will read a small section of Aimé Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, part of an interview in which Césaire discusses the poetics of rejection, and Solmaz Sharif’s “Drone.” We will discuss poetry that seems to reject “poetry” while simultaneously enacting it. In other words, we will discuss the future and, through a series of exercises, write poems that seek to make a future through their inhabitation of rejection and subversion.

Carrie Fountain, Writing Where You Are (and Where You’ve Been)

Our origins—geographic, spiritual, or familial—can often serve as the richest material for our writing. Through engaging exercises, this writing workshop, led by award-winning poet and novelist, Carrie Fountain, will welcome participants to generate meaningful writing and to meditate on the nature of beginnings. No writing experience or expertise necessary.

Kurt Heinzelman, Art and Windows

At least since the 15th century artists have been fascinated by windows (from the Old Norse word vindauga—literally, “wind-eye”). And why not? A window is, like a piece of art, a means by which something is framed. Which is to say, a window is also a way of looking. Or ways of looking, since a window both divides inside and outside and yet at the same time allows us, if the window is clear and not colored or covered or otherwise masked, to see through that division, to imagine inside and outside as permeable. Some windows we even open (though not in the Texas summer)! And, of course, another, perhaps one of the greatest, allure of windows is the mystery of what is just around the corner, what windows block from sight. In this workshop I would like us to think about and write in response to windows as a kind of art and/or pieces of art as kinds of windows. Kurt will bring in some poems to get us energized, and he invites participants to bring their own visual and textual selections to serve as illustrations and/or inspirations. All should bring writing apparatus—iPad, laptop, pen and paper, or whatever.

Laura Van Prooyen, Image and Memory

In her fascinating cross-discipline study of literature, science, and autobiography Evelyn Ender claims: “The writers who have a vocation for remembrance have long known about its subtle complexities . . . they have learned that memories are constructions, that they depend on mood and context, and above all that there is no ready-made template to be found somewhere in the brain that reproduces an initial impress or trace. These writers see best what is always true for us, namely that remembrance is an act of imagination.”
–from Architexts of Memory

In this generative workshop, we’ll look at a few evocative examples of poems and discuss how images work in creating mood and context in the construction of memory. Then we’ll tap into a few memories of our own and try our hand at writing exercises that give our remembrances—our “acts of imagination”—shape.

Scott Brownlee, From “Me” to “I” to “We”: Summoning the Power of the Collective Voice in Persona Poems

In this workshop we will examine how singular and collective persona poems function differently and hopefully gain a new familiarity and comfort level with writing persona poems in collective voices. Close reading powerful examples of persona poems by Louise Glück, Gwendolyn Brooks, Dorianne Laux, and Danez Smith as the workshop progresses, we will consider how changing a poem’s speaker from “I” to “we” reorients a poem’s energy and scope and results in a poetics of inclusion rather than exclusion . . . a poetics that engages with the social and political moment rather than attempting to escape or retreat from it. Workshop participants are encouraged to bring in two drafts of a one-to-two-page persona poem–with one draft in the voice of a singular speaker (“I”) and the other in the voice of a collective speaker (“we”). Poems based on current events are encouraged but by no means required. We will workshop as many participants’ poems as time permits.