examples of past workshops
(If interested, I can tailor-make workshops for any age group of writers or readers)
Evolution and Revolution: in poetry, in the world
Discussing revision by examining the evolution of specific poems. JW Centre, Finchley Road
Poets and Patrons Poetry Workshop
Recognizing and Understanding (Your) Meter
co-taught with Debra Bruce
Saturday, August 22, 1pm
Chicago Public Library, Howard Washington Library, 300 S. State Street (Room 6N, 3rd Floor)
Whether you write in free verse or traditional form, the words in your poems make some kind of music—the rhythm of your phrases, the use of refrain and repetition, or even patches of poetic meter you haven’t been consciously aware of—this is what makes your poem “sound like you.” Poets Debra Bruce, confessed “meter-geek,” and Andrea Witzke Slot, a “semi-formalist poet,” will discuss these musical elements, particularly the use of traditional meters, in their own writing, and they will lead a workshop focused on listening to the individual rhythmic and metrical music of poems submitted by participants in the class.
Part 1: Wrestling The Manuscript
Highland Park Library
494 Laurel Avenue
Highland Park Poetry and East on Central have collaborated to create a two-part series for writers. PART 1: Wrestling the Manuscript is a lively panel discussion for poets, fiction and non-fiction writers about the often overwhelming task of putting together a manuscript for publication. Panelists are local editors, publishers and writers willing to offer their insight, expertise and recommended do's and don'ts. They include:
Northwest Cultural Council, Palatine Public Library
Developing Voice and Dialogue in Poetic Form
Many contemporary definitions of poetry continue to turn to the concept of a single voice in a poem, as summed up in such quotes as Matthew Arnold’s “poetry is a dialogue of the mind with itself” and John Stuart Mill’s “Poetry is feeling confessing itself to itself, in moments of solitude,” despite the desire to erase the “I” altogether in some avant-garde/experimental work. My scholarly work on a number of contemporary poets, however, argues that the “I” is a key aspect of a strong lyric poem, and that this "I" can never be erased even if it is a moving target. After all, every written voice comes from a specific context and point in time. Moreover, different voices in a poem can be in “conversation” or dialogue, which can create new modes of meaning and music in a poem. This workshop will provide a practical look at these concepts in the creation and revision of poems. Specifically, participants will 1) be given strategies for analyzing the voice(s) in their own poems and the poems of others and 2) learn imaginative techniques for creating successful poetic dialogue by developing moving points of perspective between two or more voices in a poem.
Chicago Public Library CityVerse Workshop Series
On Becoming a Poet
In his Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke writes “ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple ‘I must,’ then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.” If you too would answer “I must,” then this is the workshop for you. This workshop will explore the different ways that poetry can flourish and grow in the soil of our everyday (too busy) lives.
Northwest Cultural Council Workshop, Palatine Public Library
Making Music: Orchestrating Sound and Sense in a Poem
What does Ezra Pound’s mean when he states, “Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music”? How is poetry like music? How does it differ? What techniques and tropes can help a poem get closer to music? What might push a poem further away from music? This session will examine specific techniques that play with the sound, rhythm, and structure of a poem. We will also look at poetic forms that evolved out of song and music, and participants will have a chance to produce a new song-like poem incorporating methods and strategies discussed.
Rhino Poetry Forum Workshops, Evanston Public Library
Organizing and Editing a Collection
This workshop will address the various aspects of getting a collection of poems into shape so that it works as a cohesive (and publishable) whole. We will address editorial decisions concerning thematic structure, what to leave in, what to leave out, and the art of revision. We will also explore various strategies for approaching publishers and the different routes to getting a collection published. Feel free to bring in your collection-in-progress or a selection of your best poems, as well as published books for display or sharing.
Poetry Fest, Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago Public Library
Personal Training for Poets: Mapping 10,000 Hours of Poetry
Writing, editing, marketing, publishing: these are some of the tasks that many poets engage in on a regular basis. How does a poet know what to concentrate on and when? What are the most effective strategies for success? How much time and energy is required? What are the possible roadblocks and challenges? This class is designed to help poets of all levels reflect on their writing lives, recognize obstacles, assess personal aims and ambitions, and create a personal training program for achieving realistic goals. This workshop will also explore the exciting but sometimes overwhelming world of contemporary poetry and publication routes so that participants can best determine where they fit in as readers and writers.
Northwest Cultural Council (NWCC) Workshop, Palatine Public Library
Imagery: No Ideas but in Things
In his poem “A Sort of Song,” William Carlos Williams famously declares that there are “no ideas but in things.” In this workshop, we will examine what Williams means by this—and look at how the technique of using “images” and various forms of "imagery" have underscored numerous poets’ work before and after Williams. We will examine a variety of poems first in order to see how “things” often allow for a surprising exploration of “ideas” in a poem--including emotion, time, and place. We will put all of this into practice through a series of in-class exercises.
"What characterized Andrea's presentation could be summarized in a word I'm learning to love ever more: generosity. She was extremely generous (in a remarkably forthright, humble and straightforward way) in sharing her own experience with us, regarding every step of the journey towards publishing a book. She distributed a useful handout and had people 'work it' on the spot, and answered every single question with the empathy that comes only from personal experience. It felt like a family member, intimately sharing. She brought nearly a dozen books to pass around, & talked about other people's books. It was a long presentation which didn't seem long. And the critiquing was (of necessity) short, but excellent. We had the countertop lined up with a parade of people's books, including Fractal Edge Press. Among participants were 4 or 5 past leaders, a publisher, 3 editors, and newcomers. I'd say this Forum, along with a few others in the last couple of years, falls into the category of what I had in mind years ago, as an ideal."