Every Morning a New Arrival: Meditation, Mindfulness, and Poetry

The 13th century Persian poet Rumi equated the human experience as being a guest house for unexpected visitors: new thoughts, emotions, and experiences. His instruction, “Welcome and entertain them all!” But all these guests can be confusing. We will approach the page as beginners, as innkeepers, attentive to noticing what arrives.  We will study the connection between our ever-expanding minds and poetry. Through a series of guided exercises, we will explore, play, and fumble–coming to see how meditation, mindfulness, and poetry may all dance together.

Writing Our Way into History: The Historical Poem & Other Forms

Writing about history presents many quandaries. How and where do we begin to dive in? How much research do we really need? What happens when we bring our current ethics and judgements into a particular period of history? How do we or don’t we tell the stories of others? We’ll look at and discuss how others have navigated these issues in their work, including Ellen Bryan Voigt, Corrie Williamson, Frank X Walker, Natasha Trethewey and Megan Snyder-Camp and others. Be prepared to have a generous discussion where multiple viewpoints will be heard and held.

Walking into the World to Write it Down

In this generative workshop, with some literary history thrown in, we will look at how walking has shaped poetry, both it’s form and the ways in which the poet thinks. From Basho’s haibun to Baudelaire’s prose poems, walking has been integral to many poets practice from Wordsworth to Lorca to Mary Oliver. Bring a pen and maybe your walking shoes as well!

Bending Genre: The Art of Mash Up, Mixing, and the Bending of Genre.

Following Picasso’s maxim “Good artists copy; great artists steal,” writers have been borrowing across literary genres and from other arts for most of the 20th century. Stealing from and reshaping the arts has revitalized the written again and again. We will explore how poets like Langston Hughes’ borrowing from jazz, and blues traditions and Layli Long Soldier’s using Congressional texts stretches genres, breaks rules, and treads unfamiliar territory to engage readers and transform our understanding of what the written word is and can be. From the repurposing of Shakespeare to David Shield’s manifest Reality Hunger written entirely from other sources, this discussion serves as history, a highlight, and perhaps weather vane to some of the most exciting things to happen in our written word.

Spectacular, Wild, Precarious!

Yellowstone National Park has been a source of inspiration for more than a century. At times called “Wonderland,” “Colter’s Hell,” and Mi tse a-da-zi by the Hidatsa people, more than four million nature lovers make a pilgrimage to this place each year. In this same spirit of discovery and wonder, we will use Yellowstone as a lens to examine our own writing.

During our time together, we will use the park as metaphor and structure to reinvigorate and let a little wildness in to our writing. We will experiment with the terrain and landscape of our work. There will also be a discussion about what the ecology of our personal vision and voice may look like. Be prepared to compose some new work based on provided prompts.

A Celebration of LGBTQ+ Writers!

We will read and celebrate the writing of contemporary LGBTQ poets. This is an event for anyone who loves poetry and spoken word. This is an event for people who identify as LGBTQAI, for their families, friends, and allies. Some possible poets include Danez Smith, Natalie Diaz, Tommy Pico, Adrienne Rich, Allen Ginsberg, DA Powell, Chen Chen, Eduardo C, Corrall, Joss Charles, Oliver Bendorff, and Ely Shipley.

Dear Friend: Writing Poems and Letters, Writing Letter Poems

Using “Envelopes of Air” poem/letters between Natalie Diaz and Ada Limon as a starting point, we will explore how writing letters and writing poems have been intertwined for hundreds of years. This friendly, informal writing workshop is perfect for people who love to write letters or people who are curious about writing their own poems. There will be prompts to get you started on your writing journey. No experience needed.

You Do Not Have to Be Good: Poetry and Prayer

“To understand poetry,” Lorca said, “we need four white walls and a silence where the poet’s voice can weep and sing.” In this vein, we will look at some poems and see how they call out to transform both the speaker in the poem and the reader.

We will see how our own longings, complaints, and visions can serve as a call to the sacred, the Universe, or the attentive reader. No spiritual or religious affiliation needed.   No prior writing experience is necessary.

How to Read a Poem/How to Love Poetry

Using Molly Peacock’s gentle introduction of how to look at poetry, we will explore different ways to read and think about poems. Whether you are just curious about poetry and looking to dip your foot in, or totally in love with poems, this conversation will give you something new to think about. We will read a few poems together and discuss how to better experience and understand them. This workshop especially useful for people who have always thought poetry was too difficult, mysterious or just plain dumb.

The Secrets of a Writer’s Life: Questions, Answers, and Practices 

In this informal discussion, I will speak to aspiring writers about my own writing practice and answer their questions about writing. Whether it is how to get started, practices to help keep going, or ways to improve your craft. Nothing is off limits. This group sharing will walk you through drafting, revising, and even how to begin to submit your work to journals and how to read your own writing in public.