Poetry Workshops, Panels and Events

To register for the full conference and enroll in a three-day workshop or three-day critical seminar, click on the button below. All keynote talks, panels, one-day workshops, readings and special events are included in general registration, as is attendance at the Poetry Symposium each afternoon. All three-day workshops and three-day critical seminars require an additional fee of $200.

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Poetry Panel #1: "A Confluence of Rivers: Poetry and Philosophy." Emily Grosholz, Moderator, with Frederick Turner, Jan Schreiber, and others.

Philosophy seems to be concerned with reason and contemplation, and poetry with emotion and action. Yet their fates seem to be strikingly intertwined if we look back at the history of Western Culture. Plato regularly intersperses argument with myths and similes; Aristotle devotes the Poetics to an analysis of tragedy; Lucretius turns Epicurus’ doctrines into epic poetry; and Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy includes almost as much poetry as prose. Dante presents Christian-Aristotelian ethics into a cosmological poem in the Commedia; Chaucer translates Cicero’s Dream of Scipio; Marlowe and Shakespeare wax philosophical at every turn; and the authors of the King James Bible, along with Milton, transform theology into poetry.

Goethe writes philosophical poems, Lessing writes philosophical drama, and the Schlegel brothers between them compose philosophy and poetry; Wordsworth and Coleridge bring German Romanticism to England; Emerson, Dickenson and Thoreau combine poetry and philosophy in New England; and the Existentialists, from Kierkegaard to Beauvoir, constantly migrate from philosophy to poetry, fiction and memoir, and back again. The influence of Mallarmé (whose circle included Yeats, Rilke and Valéry) on the French philosophers Derrida, Kristeva, Blanchot and Lacan is well documented; and Yves Bonnefoy was a graduate student in philosophy, almost completing his PhD with Jean Wahl before verging off for the life of a poet. 

So the panel will explore the reasons (and emotions) that bind philosophy and poetry, and we look forward to a lively dialectic with our fellow writers at Writing the Rockies!

Thursday, July 20, 8:30 - 10:00 am, Taylor Hall 229

To see full biographies of the panelists, click each speaker's name below:

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Poetry Panel #2: "Why Homer and Virgil Still Matter." Tyson Hausdoerffer, Moderator, with Art Goodtimes and Fred Turner.

Saturday, July 22, 8:30 - 10:00 am, Taylor Hall 229

Despite its pleasures, translating poetry is one of the greatest challenges a poet can take on, involving innumerable trade-offs and difficult compromises. It is hard enough with living languages, but verse translation of ancient Greek and Latin poetry, which was composed in dead languages and is preserved in texts that are often unstable and fragmentary, presents a different level of challenge altogether. And yet such translation has been crucial to the development of modern poetry and poetics in English and many other languages. This panel will discuss the particular challenges and special rewards of translating classical Greek and Latin poetry, and why it still matters. It will also highlight approaches and strategies that could benefit any writer, insofar as all poetic composition involves the “translation” of vaguely grasped, fragmentary ideas, and, in the best writing, a willingness to come to terms with the past.

To see full biographies of the panelists, click each speaker's name below:

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Poetry Panel #3: "So, these four poets walk into a bar and start talking about jokes..." Julie Kane, Moderator, with Bruce Bennett, David J. Rothman, and Marilyn L. Taylor.

Sunday, July 23, 8:30 - 10:00 am, Taylor Hall 229

Why don't light verse, intentional doggerel and satire get more respect? Why is unrhymed verse rarely funny? What verse forms do humorous writers use most often for their comic poems, and why? Why is comedy harder than dying? Does light verse have a short shelf life? Is tomorrow Tuesday? Where are my keys? Why are we asking all these questions? These and similar inquiries will occupy members of this astonishingly vibrant panel as they exchange views, barbs and small ceremonial gifts while engaging in a dialogue with the audience if they feel like it. Concerned with the underlying nature of humorous verse along with the future of humanity, the panel will also examine “regional” poetry, the tax code, poetry based on language play, poetry not based on language play, poetry occasionally based on language play, poetry in plays, the poetry of praise, Scottish border lays, the end of days, why none of us seems to be able to get a raise, the unclassifiable works of Ogden Nash, and the question of how librarians can therefore figure out which shelf to put them on.

To see full biographies of the panelists, click each speaker's name below:

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All three-day intensive workshops meet Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, 7/20, 7/22 and 7/23, from 10:15 - 12:15. Cost: $200 in addition to registration.

Poetry Intensive Workshop #1: "Say That Again? Writing Repeating Forms." Instructor: Bruce Bennett.

Location: Taylor Hall 200

Why do certain poetic forms insist on repeating themselves, and why are their patterns of repetition an essential strategy of their effectiveness and meaning? Three such forms are the villanelle, the triolet, and the pantoum, each of which, in its own way, demonstrates how a seemingly limiting device opens up limitless possibilities of poetic expression. This workshop will concentrate on an investigation of these three forms, with participants choosing to write in one or more of them. Outstanding examples of each form will be introduced and examined, but most of the in-class time will be devoted to a close reading and discussion of the participants’ own work. Limited to 10 participants.

Bruce Bennett

Bruce Bennett, recipient of the 2015 Writing the Rockies Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Creative Writing, is the author of ten full-length collections of poetry and more than two dozen poetry chapbooks. His most recent book is Just Another Day in Just Our Town  Poems: New And Selected, 2000-2016 (Orchises Press). His first New And Selected, Navigating The Distances, also from Orchises Press, was chosen by Booklist as “One Of The Top Ten Poetry Books Of 1999.” He was awarded a Pushcart Prize for his villanelle, "The Thing's Impossible," which appeared in the Fall 2011 Issue of Ploughshares. He received his AB, AM, and PhD from Harvard, and taught at Oberlin College from 1967-70, where he co-founded and served as an editor of Field: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics. In 1970 he moved back to Cambridge, where he co-founded and served as an editor of Ploughshares. In 1971, he married Bonnie Apgar, a Renaissance art historian, and for two years he and Bonnie lived in Florence, Italy. In 1973 he began teaching at Wells College in Aurora, New York. He retired from teaching at Wells in 2014, and is now Professor Emeritus of English. He and Bonnie have two children, Evan and Millicent. Evan is an architect and Millicent is an editor, and both live with their families in New York City.

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Poetry Intensive Workshop #2: "Making Memory Musical." Instructor: Jodie Hollander.

Location: TBA

Duke Ellington famously said, “It don’t mean a thing (if it ain’t got that swing).” In this three-day intensive craft workshop, participants will learn how to translate their most powerful memories into a polished, musical poem. In addition to engaging in exercises designed to awaken vivid memories, this workshop will center around how to craft an ear-pleasing line of poetry. In particular, students will focus on writing in iambic pentameter by studying examples from the works of Robert Frost, Louise Bogan, Philip Larkin and other masters of form.

Jodie Hollander
Jodie Hollander was raised in a family of classical musicians. Her work has been published in journals such as The Poetry Review, PN Review, The Dark Horse, The Rialto, Verse Daily, The New Criterion, The Manchester Review, Australia’s Best Poems, 2011 and Australia’s Best Poems, 2015. Her debut collection, The Humane Society, was published with tall-lighthouse (London) in 2012, and her next collection, My Dark Horses, is due out in 2017 with Liverpool University Press.  She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to South Africa, and was awarded a MacDowell Colony fellowship in 2015. She is currently the poetry editor for GARO, the online journal for the Rocky Mountain Land Library.

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All three-day Critical Seminars meet Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, 7/20, 7/22 and 7/23, from 10:15 - 12:15. Cost: $200 in addition to registration. 

Poetry Three-Day Critical Seminar: "The Prosody Seminar." Leaders: Tom Cable and Natalie Gerber.

Location: Taylor Hall 204

In recent work in all eras of English poetry, the very nature of “stress” has been called into question and its dominance in our explanatory paradigms of what makes verse prosody compelling has yielded somewhat to concerns of quantity and duration, pitch, and tempo.  We hope to answer the question:  Why should poets care about these technicalities, especially since intuitively they already engage them?  Tacit knowledge and long practice in writing poems may eventually produce works the reader and the prosodist find interesting.  However, if knowledge of the patterns that prosodists describe can speed up and deepen the acquisition of this expertise, it is worth looking at the technicalities.  This provides a way for poets to expand their rhythmical repertoire and gain confidence in venturing beyond the usual patterns. We’ll explore both new explanations for conventional patterns and venture toward less usual patterns as well. The seminar will collect a handful of readings, both poetry and criticism, which we’ll discuss, explore poems that seminar members contribute (by those who desire to), and touch on a longer reading list that could occupy you for a good time.

Tom Cable
Thomas Cable has devoted a lifetime to the study of the English language and its prosodic development in poetry. Now emeritus professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, he has also taught in France and at the University of Illinois. Among his books are A History of the English Language (with Albert C. Baugh) and The English Alliterative Tradition. His interests range from the metrics of Old English verse to the treatment of meter by today’s New Formalists.​

Natalie Gerber

Natalie Gerber is President-Elect of the Robert Frost Society and Secretary-Treasurer of the Wallace Stevens Society. Since earning her PhD in English at UC Berkeley, she has used insights from linguistics to address longstanding conundrums in modernist verse prosody, such as the underlying structure of Wallace Stevens’ late blank-verse line. More recently, she has explored how issues of speech prosody factor into verse prosody, for example, how shifts in the rhythms of Global English speakers may be affecting the nature of rhyme in contemporary poetry and hiphop. Her recent publications include co-edited special issues for Thinking Verse (with David Nowell Smith, Intonation) and for The Wallace Stevens Journal (with Nicholas Myklebust, Stevens and the Cognitive Turn in Literary Studies; with Steven Gould Axelrod, Stevens and Frost). Her essays are also forthcoming in the edited collections On Rhyme (Presses Universitaires de Liège, 2017) and in The History of the English Language: Pedagogical Practices for College and University Classrooms (Oxford, 2017). Current projects include Prosody: Histories, a colloquy for Stanford University’s Arcades project, co-curated with Eric Weiskott. She teaches at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where she is an associate professor of English.

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