Poetry Summer Intensives

This year's Summer Intensive Residency takes place July 12-July 25, 2015. The Residency begins with a welcome reception on Sunday, July 12, at 5:00 pm, in the University Center.

All Summer Intensives are open to the public at the discretion of the instructor. Courses meet 1:00-4:00 pm for eight days in the second half of July (M-F, July 13-17 and M-W, July 20-22).

All the students and faculty not only read and write for many hours each day, but we have a wonderful time with readings, socializing, and recreation in one of the most beautiful valleys in the Rockies. During the final long weekend of the intensive, all students in the entire program participate in our national writing conference, Writing the Rockies, which is also open to the public.

Cost to non-matriculated students of attending an Intensive course without earning graduate credit is $350. For an additional fee, qualified students may also earn graduate credit.


Summer Intensive 2015 CRWR 510: Meter in English

David Rothman
Professor David J. Rothman

George Saintsbury once wrote that “The main business of the poet…is to get poetical music out of the language which he uses.” This course is for anyone who wants to better understand how this music works. We read and analyze brief passages of verse in every major metrical form that has developed over the history of English poetry, ending with a study of free verse. Students also write exercises in all the major metrical forms and practice scansion of their own poems.

Upon completion of this course, students will have a basic understanding of how meter and rhythm work in the English poetic line, along with an outline of how this aspect of craft came to be as it is. They will have a working vocabulary of the tools that poets writing in English have developed to practice their craft, with some sense of how those tools developed over time, and how to begin to use them to craft original poems. Some of the questions we will discuss are: What are prosody, versification, and scansion, and why are poets so obsessed with them? How did the traditions of writing in verse come to be what they are? And how can poets draw on the traditions of the past to create new work? Join us to see what make poems tick at the most basic level – the level of the line.

David J. Rothman is Director of the Western's Graduate program in Creative Writing, and of the Poetry Concentration. He has published five books of poems, most recently Part of the Darkness (Entasis Press, 2013)  and The Book of Catapults (White Violet Press, 2013). He also teaches at Lighthouse Writers Workshop of Denver. A former Finalist for the Colorado Book Award, he is Poet in Residence at Colorado Public Radio. His poetry and essays have appeared in hundreds of journals.

Summer Intensive 2015 / CRWR 510: Public Performance

David Yezzi photo
Professor David Yezzi 

This hands-on performance workshop, taught by a professional poet with Equity acting experience and a conservatory training from Carnegie Mellon, combines literary and theatrical practice to examine what makes a dramatic reading, recitation, or lecture compelling, clear, and resonant. Through textual analysis, vocal technique, and group discussion and critique, students will create a pliant and powerful performance style to best serve their work.

Sessions will focus on student readings and classroom critique. In the course of this eight-day intensive workshop, students will enhance their ability to communicate with an audience through their work, with marked improvement in both confidence and execution. We will focus on the essential aspects of public speaking, particularly as it applies to the performance of poetry, delivery of lectures, and participation in panels. Students will develop their presentation skills by using their voices and an expressive physical presence to deliver creative, critical, and pedagogical work orally to the public.

David Yezzi (poet, actor, playwright) is a founding member of San Francisco’s Thick Description theater company. Off-Broadway: The Grand Guignol (Playhouse 91). Off-Off-Broadway: Parlor Problems (St. Mark’s Church); Rich White Farmers (Ohio Theater); Man, Oh Man Ray! (St. Mark’s Church), all under the direction of Robert Cucuzza; Drums in the Night (Ralph Lee, director); Dog Spelled Backwards (The Kitchen), and Cafe Not So Vivaldi (Rapp Arts Center). Regional: Shaw’s Candida (Princeton Rep); Edith Stein (Pittsburgh Public Theater); The Visions of Simone Machard (Thick Description, San Francisco); Macbeth (German tour).

His dramatic writing includes the verse dramas On the Rocks (Verse Theater Manhattan/Bowery Poetry Club, 2007), Dirty Dan & Other Travesties (Verse Theater Manhattan/Bowery Poetry Club, 2010), Schnauzer (Verse Theater Manhattan, Fall 2012), the libretto for David Conte’s opera Firebird Motel (The Thick House, 2003), and, forthcoming, the libretto for Cyril Deaconoff’s The Last Tycoon (West Bay Opera, 2012). A former the director of the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y, his books of poetry include The Hidden Model (TriQuarterly, 2003), Azores (Swallow Press, 2008), a Slate magazine best book of the year, and most recently Birds of the Air (Carnegie Mellon, 2013). He is the editor of The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets, foreword by J. D. McClatchy, and executive editor of The New Criterion.

Summer Intensive 2015 / CRWR 510: Poetry and Music

Ernie Hilbert
Professor Ernest Hilbert

We are drawn to the great operas again and again, enticed by exquisite singing, enlivened by grand spectacles, and entranced by the wonderful stories and legendary characters that bring those stories to life.

Without stories, operas could not exist. The librettist, or keeper of the “little book,” helps the composer to realize a vision by supplying colorful settings, moving characters, and a persuasive story, be it comedic, tragic, or somewhere in between. The librettist exercises both a poet’s verse-craft, in songs and arias, and a playwright’s plot-work to draw us along with rising tensions, surprising turns, and devastating revelations.

The librettist conjures a whole world and transports an audience to an opulent seraglio, blood-stained battlefield, magnificent palace, pirate’s brigantine, assassin’s aerie, or pauper’s hovel. The librettist invents heroes and rogues, clowns and killers, captains and kings, maidens and warriors, fleshes their bones and sets them in motion. Today, librettists continue to work with contemporary composers to refresh and reshape the opera tradition in the 21st century.

Learn the practical art of the opera libretto this summer with renowned poet and librettist Ernest Hilbert, whose latest evening-length epic opera with composer Stella Sung, The Red Silk Thread, set in the court of Kublai Khan, was recently performed at the Michigan Opera Studio and will receive its grand premiere in 2014 at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Florida. Students will benefit from short readings on the theory and practice of writing words for music and classroom colloquia. They will also meet with a composer via Skype and take part in an ongoing workshop to develop a one-act opera scenario and libretto of their own.

Registration Information

Registration Form for Intensive workshop only, without credit. Available spring 2015.

Registration Form for Intensive workshop with 3 graduate-level credits. Available spring 2015.

Click here to download the on-campus housing reservation form. Please return your completed form to Extended Studies. Available spring 2015.

Graduating MFA students: If you plan on participating in Western's May 9th, 2015 graduation ceremony, please go online to rent your master's regalia: http://wscubookstore.western.edu/

For more information please contact Extended Studies, Taylor 303, at 970-943-2885, or online at www.western.edu/extendedstudies.

You may also contact Graduate Program Director and Poetry Concentration Director David J. Rothman, at drothman@western.edu.

Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Application Information

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