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 $250.

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Poetry Panel #1: "Translation: A Conversation on the Classical Tradition." A.M. Juster, Moderator, with John Talbot and Jan Schreiber.

Thursday, July 21, 8:30 - 10:00 am, Taylor Hall 229

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

A.M. Juster, Moderator

John Talbot

Jan Schreiber

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Poetry Panel #2: "From Longfellow to Mason: The Poetry of Colorado." Art Goodtimes, Moderator, with David J. Rothman and Wendy Videlock.

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

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

Art Goodtimes, Moderator

David J. Rothman

Wendy Videlock

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Poetry Panel #3: "Poetry and Philosophy." Emily Grosholz, Moderator, with Christopher Norris, Niles Ritter, and Frederick Turner.

Sunday, July 24, 8:30 - 10:00 am, Taylor Hall 229

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

Emily Grosholz, Chair

Christopher Norris

Niles Ritter

Frederick Turner


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All three-day intensive workshops meet Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, 7/21, 7/23 and 7/24, from 10:15 - 12:15. Cost: $250 in addition to registration.

Poetry Intensive Workshop #1: "Writing Villanelles." Instructor: Bruce Bennett

Kelly Hall 129

How much can you say or do in a nineteen-line poem with just two rhymes where the first and third lines are repeated at regular intervals throughout the poem? What presumably can, and cannot, be accomplished within such a seemingly limited structure, and why do poets continually seek to master such a form, and how do some succeed memorably? This workshop will explore such questions, focusing on the possibilities of the villanelle as a contemporary form by examining the many ways it has been used by a variety of writers, as demonstrated in the recent Everyman Anthology, Villanelles, edited by Annie Finch and Marie-Elizabeth Mali. Participants will be asked to familiarize themselves with this text, but most of the in-class time will be devoted to a close reading and discussion of the villanelles they themselves produce. Limited to 10 participants.

Bruce Bennett, recipient of the 2015 Writing the Rockies Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Creative Writing, is the author of nine full-length books of poetry and more than twenty-five poetry chapbooks. His most recent books are Something Like Karma (Clandestine Press, 2009) and Subway Figure (Orchises Press, 2009). His most recent chapbooks are The Wither’d Sedge (Finishing Line Press, 2014), and Swimming In A Watering Can (FootHills Publishing, 2014). His New and Selected Poems, Navigating The Distances (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, NY. 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: "The Verse Essay." Instructor: Christopher Norris

Location: Kelly Hall 119

The verse essay is a genre that had its British heyday in the eighteenth century but it was then eclipsed by movements like Romanticism and Modernism with their very different -- indeed sharply opposed -- aesthetic doctrines. This course will look at a range of verse-essays and focus on the kinds of formal structure -- rhyme-schemes, stanza-forms, meters, syntactic patterns -- that tend to work best with poetry of this kind. It will also ask why recently fashionable literary theories have tended to avoid any serious engagement with poetry of a markedly discursive, argumentative, or formalist character. Should participants wish to write verse-essays on topics of their own choosing then of course they will be encouraged to do so and present them in the course.

Christopher Norris completed his PhD in English at University College London in 1975. After an early career in literary and music criticism (during the late 1970s, he wrote for the now-defunct magazine Records and Recording), Norris moved in 1991 to the Cardiff Philosophy Department. In 1997, he was awarded the title of Distinguished Research Professor in the Cardiff School of English, Communication & Philosophy. He has also held fellowships and visiting appointments at a number of institutions, including the University of California, Berkeley, the City University of New York, Aarhus University, and Dartmouth College. He is one of the world's leading scholars on deconstruction and the work of Jacques Derrida. He has written numerous books and papers on literary theory, continental philosophy, philosophy of music, philosophy of language and philosophy of science. He has recently turned to poetry -- more specifically, the verse-essay -- as a medium for discussing ideas and reflecting on various literary and philosophical themes. Some of his recent work has appeared in the journal THINK, which is published by Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

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Poetry Intensive Workshop #3: "Rising to the Occasion: Occasional Verse." Instructor: Julie Kane

Taylor Hall 229

Some of the greatest poems in literature are “occasional,” written to mark a particular occasion or event. And, sooner or later—if your friends, relatives, and co-workers know that you are a poet—you are going to be asked to write one! The challenges of the occasional poem are many: writing with a tight deadline, avoiding sentimentality or empty rhetoric, and accessing feelings of inspiration toward a subject you would probably never choose of your own free will. But the results of sharing an occasional poem with its intended audience are also very different from those of publishing a poem in a literary journal—and that is what makes the experience so enjoyable and rewarding. Exploring past and present examples of occasional poems and toying with prompts and exercises, this workshop will explore strategies for writing and performing the successful “public” poem.

Julie Kane, this year's Poetry Keynote, holds a B.A. from Cornell University, an M.A. from Boston University, and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, where her dissertation on the villanelle won the Lewis P. Simpson Dissertation Award. Her poetry books include Rhythm & Booze (2003), a National Poetry Series winner; Jazz Funeral (2009), winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize; and Paper Bullets (2014), a collection of light verse. The Vietnam memoir that she co-authored with Kiem Do, Counterpart (1998), became a History Book Club Featured Alternate. Julie’s poems and translations appear in over fifty anthologies including Penguin’s Poetry: A Pocket Anthology, Norton’s Seagull Reader, and Best American Poetry 2016. She has collaborated with composer Dale Trumbore on the one-act opera Starship Paradise, premiered by Center City Opera Theater of Philadelphia, and with composer Kenneth Olson on City of Lights for orchestra and soprano, premiered by the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony. Composer Libby Larsen’s settings of Julie’s poems have been recorded on CDs by The American Boychoir and by mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer. Julie’s scholarly essays have been published in Twentieth Century Literature, Literature/Film Quarterly, Modern Language Quarterly, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, and other journals and edited collections. The 2011-2013 Louisiana Poet Laureate, she is a Professor of English and recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

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All three-day Critical Seminars meet meet Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, 7/21, 7/22 and 7/24, from 10:15 - 12:15. Cost: $250 in addition to registration. 

Poetry three-Day Critical Seminar #1: "The Poetry of Travel." Leader: Emily Grosholz.

Taylor Hall 204

The poetry of travel seems to be culturally ubiquitous. One persistent narrative is that of the young man who leaves home and goes far away to encounter strange cultures (and women) in order to learn from them and test his manhood; then, wiser and stronger, he returns home. The great exemplar of this narrative is Homer’s Odysseus. Coleridge and Wordsworth went to Germany, and brought back Romanticism; Emerson and Hawthorne went to Italy. Most human beings carry out some version of this narrative during the passage from childhood to adulthood; at the very least, we leave our natal home and have to shift for ourselves for awhile in the hostile world before we are able to establish another home. But there are standard variants of this pattern. One is that the young man goes far away, and then stays and makes a new home in that distant place and never returns; this is the modern European romance of the colonizer, the pioneer, or the emigrant, and in the other direction the American romance of the expatriate. A second is that he goes far away and then is unable to return, living out his life in exile, like Ovid on the Black Sea, or Dante exiled from Florence, or Nabokov and Brodsky in America. A third is that the one who leaves is a woman; she shows up only in the 19th and 20th centuries: H. D., Bishop, Boland, Stevenson and Fainlight (and me!) among many others.

Geography plays an important role in the poetry of travel: mountains and rivers without end, as the classical Chinese poets liked to say, as well as oceans and islands, and foreign cities. And then there is the important correlate of the narrative of travel, which is the house we never leave, the house of childhood, described by Bachelard in The Poetics of Space. In order to grow up, we must leave that house; but afterwards we always carry it inside us, re-explore its places, and use it as a frame of reference to understand the great world. Thus we make one little house an everywhere (to paraphrase Donne), as by traveling we domesticate the wild world, making one everywhere a little house.

In this seminar, most of the poetry we read will be poems written between 1800 and the present day by British, Irish and American poets. We’ll spend a day thinking about narrative structure; a day exploring geography; and a day contemplating the metaphysics of here and there. Bring a poem or two that you’ve written on these themes; if I get them ahead of time, I can compile them and we can share them before the seminar begins. And I’ll send you my Hudson Review Letters from Paris, Helsinki, Moscow and St. Petersburg, Toronto, Rome, Denmark and Tokyo, where the places I visited turned out to be full of hidden poets, writers and painters, as well as suppressed but still audible rivers.

Emily Grosholz is a poet who teaches philosophy and poetry at the Pennsylvania State University, and has been an advisory editor for The Hudson Review for over thirty years.  Her seventh book of poetry, Childhood, published by Accents Publishing with drawings by Parisian artist Lucy Vines, has raised over $2000 in the past year for UNICEF from sales of the book. It has been translated into Japanese by Atsuko Hayakawa, with illustrations by Chihiro Iwasaki; an Italian translation by Sara Amadori is underway, and Turkish, Russian, Hebrew and Bengali translations are in planning stages. A baker's dozen of her poems appeared in Fall 2015, in the Hudson Review and in PN Review, including two elegies for Maxine Kumin, a poem about her recent visit to the Gunnison Valley Observatory, two poems about Rome and two poems about the ferryboat from Helsinki to Tallinn. She recently submitted the manuscript of a philosophical monograph on number theory and cosmology as well as a proposal for a book on poetry and mathematics to the same publishing house, and a set of poems to Think, and she is translating a wonderful essay by Yves Bonnefoy on Yeats for a collection due out soon from Carcanet.

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