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.

Register Now for Writing the Rockies


Poetry Panel #1: "The Long Poem Now." David J. Rothman, moderator, with Jane Satterfield and Fred Turner.

Thursday, July 19, 8:30 - 10:00 am, Taylor Hall 229

When Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate appeared in 1986 it was rightly hailed as the end of a long drought in the publication of book-length narrative poems. Since then, many substantial works have appeared, including Walcott's Omeros, Merwin's The Folding Cliffs, Fred Feirstein's Manhattan Carnival, Jennifer Reeser's The Lalaurie Horror, Dave Mason's Ludlow, Mark Jarman's Iris, Kate Daniels' Four Testimonies, Fred turner's three epics, and many more. Join a spirited discussion, including several of the authors named above, on the status of the long poem today, and the prospects for its future.

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

Register Now for Writing the Rockies

Poetry Panel #2: "THINK Journal and the State of Small Literary Magazines." Susan Spear, moderator, with Jodie Hollander and David J. Rothman.

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

THINK Journal is Western's international journal of poetry, criticism and reviews. Christine Yurick founded the journal in 2008, and it quickly achieved a national reputation for strong poetry and essays. The journal favors thoughtful attention to form and critical clarity. In Fall 2013, the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Western Colorado University acquired the journal. In keeping with its original mission, THINK publishes poems that emphasize craft as well as clear and compelling content. It also publishes book reviews and essays from the Critical Symposium on Poetry Criticism, which is held each July at Western as part of Writing the Rockies. The journal has published hundreds of leading American poets and critics. Join Managing Editor Susan Spear along with others who have appeared in the journal and have worked for other periodicals to discuss the mission of THINK and small press literary journals in America today.

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

Register Now for Writing the Rockies

Poetry Panel #3: "Translating Homer Today." Tyson Hausdoerffer, moderator, with Aarpon Poochigian and Fred Turner.

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

The history of English poetry is in part a history of translation, and in every generation poets and translators return again and again to Homer, with good reason. Tyson Hausdoerffer is working on a translation of The Iliad, and Aaron Poochigian has published translations of classical Greek widely. Along with Fred Turner, they will discuss the motivations, purposes, and challenges of this work with others who have also worked on Homer's masterpiece.

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



Poetry One-Day Workshop #1: "The Poet and the Hawk." Instructor: Alan J. Malnar.

Thursday, July 19, 10:15 am - 12:15 pm, Taylor Hall 229

In this workshop/presentation, Alan Malnar will discuss how Robinson Jeffers and other poets and writers have responded to raptors in their work. Emanating from the continent's end of the American West, Jeffers' poetic eagles hawks, falcons, vultures and other birds of prey symbolize the compelling presence and voice of nature, a pantheistic universe of beauty and splendor, death and destruction. It is the perilous bird of prey which calls forth the very essence and life-force of Jeffers himself, winging its way through his expansive body of narrative and lyrical verse, a poetry fundamentally anti-social in its vision and primitive in its basic instinctual surge.

Alan Malnar
Alan J. Malnar, Associate Professor of Humanities and Communications at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Unversity in Prescott, Arizona, teaches courses in writing, literature, film and cultural studies. He has published articles in both scholarly and serial periodicals, and has received many national leadership awards from the Associated Collegiate Press for his work with Horizons newspaper. He recently published Voices of the Headlands: Robinson Jeffers and the Bird of Prey with Peter Lang.




Poetry One-Day Workshop #2: "The Contemporary Ghazal." Instructor: Julie Kane.

Saturday, July 21, 10:15 am - 12:15 pm, Taylor Hall 229

The ancient Persian poetic form called the ghazal has seemingly gone viral in recent years, attracting contemporary poets as varied as Jenna Le, Patricia Smith, and Paul Muldoon. Combining the freedom of the free verse line, the challenge of rhyme and refrain, and the fun of “signing” the final couplet, the form can jolt you out of your writing ruts and take your work in surprising new directions. In this workshop, we will learn the history, cultural context, and rules of the ghazal; read some examples by traditional and contemporary masters; and try our own hands at writing (and signing) one.

Julie kane
Julie Kane, Visiting professor of Poetry in Western's GPCW and 2016 WtR 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.


Poetry One-Day Workshop #3: "The Art of the Book Review." Instructor: Emily Grosholz.

Sunday, July 22, 10:15 am - 12:15 pm, Taylor Hall 229

Book reviews require specific skills. The process is the same, yet different, if one is reviewing a book of poems, an anthology of poems, a work of philosophy, a work of feminist history, a travel book, a novel, a collection of critical essays -- and, assuming the review is positive, the question is how a reviewer might persuade a reader that the book should be purchased and read. Join us as we consider this question, along with the delicate balance involved in crafting a thoughtful review that is mixed or negative as well.

Emily Grosholz is a poet who teaches philosophy and poetry at Pennsylvania State University, and has been an advisory editor for the Hudson Review for over thirty years. The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems will be published in 2017 by Word Galaxy / Able Muse Press, with drawings by Farhad Ostovani. Her most recent book of poetry, Childhood, published by Accents Publishing with drawings by Parisian artist Lucy Vines, has raised over $2500 in the past year for UNICEF from sales of the book. A Japanese translation by Atsuko Hayakawa (Tsuda College) with illustrations by Chihiro Iwasaki was published in 2015, and an Italian translation by Sara Amadori (University of Bologna / Forli) was published in 2016, along with a CD Childhood Songs by composer Mirco De Stefani. A French translation by Pascale Drouet (University of Poitier) is underway. During the past year, her poems have appeared in the San Diego Readerthe Hudson ReviewPN Review and Think Journal, including two elegies for Maxine Kumin, and poems about the Gunnison Valley Observatory, Escondido, Rome, and the ferryboat from Helsinki to Tallinn. Her new philosophy book Starry Reckoning: Reference and Analysis in Mathematics and Cosmology is just out from Springer. Next year, Springer will publish her book on poetry and mathematics, Great Circles: The Transits of Mathematics and Poetry. Her translation of the late Yves Bonnefoy's essay "Yeats' Poetics" is featured the Autumn 2016 issue of the Hudson Review, and will be included in a Carcanet edition of the poet's works due out next year.




All three-day intensive workshops meet Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, 7/19, 7/21 and 7/22, from 10:15 - 12:15. Cost: $200 in addition to registration.

Poetry Intensive Workshop: "Metrical Lines and Formal Wholes." Instructor: James Matthew Wilson

Location: Taylor Hall 200

The early advocates of free verse contrasted the mechanical order of meter with the organic complexity of speech rhythm.  Such a contrast does not stand up to scrutiny precisely because verse has always treated meter as one element within the formal whole of a poem's rhythm.  In this workshop, we will scrutinize classic poems from the tradition and participants' poems to understand the infinite modulation of rhythm possible within a single line but also--above all--to master the ways in which sentence rhythm, length, and schemes (figures of speech) cooperate to give variety and excitement to verse, making the formal rhythmic whole of a poem much more than the sum of its metrical parts.

James Matthew Wilson
James Matthew Wilson has published seven books, including Some Permanent Things (Wiseblood 2014) and The Fortunes of Poetry in an Age of Unmaking (Wiseblood 2015).  A widely published scholar, poet, and critic of contemporary poetry, he reviews regularly for The Weekly StandardFirst Things, and Catholic World Report, and serves as the poetry editor of Modern Age magazine. He received the 2017 Hiett Prize for young scholars changing the future of American culture, from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, and his poetry will appear in the 2018 Best American Poetry anthology. Associate professor of religion and literature in the department of Humanities at Villanova University, his next book of poems, The Hanging God, will appear this fall from Angelico Press.






Register Now for Writing the Rockies


All three-day Critical Seminars meet Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, 7/19, 7/21 and 7/22, from 10:15 - 12:15. Cost: $200 in addition to registration. 

Poetry Three-Day Critical Seminar: “The Poetic Encounter: Experiencing the Forms, Learning the Craft. A Seminar for Teachers.” Leaders: Dr. Robert Jackson and Dr. Robert Maranto

Location: Taylor Hall 113

The art of poetry has fallen on hard times in America. How did this happen over the past century, and how might we as classroom teachers counter it? Having misplaced the poetic way of knowing—the exploration of reality through metaphor and memory—we find ourselves dependent on streams of digitized information, without a vision of the greater whole. While (at least at the better schools) the high school English class may still provide the requisite introduction to rhyme, meter, and some standard forms (sonnet, villanelle, rondeau), poetic life pulses beneath the surface of inspired lines: recreating experience, emotion, and those encounters with beauty which are “a joy forever.”

This workshop will begin with a historical overview of the problem: why schools today cover far less poetry than in the past.  Then, we will consider how to recover poetic knowledge in your classroom, by exploring a handful of modern American poets (Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Richard Wilbur), whose work has influenced the popular imagination. We will also entertain a few poet-critics (Owen Barfield, John Hollander, Robert Pinsky, Dana Gioia) who provide interpretations of the beneficial effects and necessary paradoxes of poetry. With these trustworthy guides at hand, we will explore how an oral presentation of poetry, accompanied by analysis, memorization, and original composition, can reinvigorate the form, while at the same time emphasizing the structural features that distinguish poetry.

The three two-hour workshops will include:

  1. HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION. Day 1 will provide an overview of the decline of poetry in schools, with an exploration of why and how this language art lost its place in the curriculum. “Before” and “after” snapshots of curriculum, poetry anthologies, and mainstream publications will help participants recognize the loss of poetry in modern American schools and society. Homework will include reading four poems and four essay-selections from the above authors.
  2. PERFORMANCE AND EXPERIENCE. Day 2 will include guided group recitations of four poems, followed by an exposition of the structural features, lexical variety, metaphoric imagery, and poetic devices that produce the overall effect. Taking inventory of the four poets’ distinctive approaches and common devices, participants will identify those features of greatest personal effect (what struck them as individuals) in preparation for their own analysis of select poems from the same four poets. Homework will include selecting and memorizing a poem, preparing a recitation and exposition, and anticipating the effects of the poem for the fellow-participants, thus serving as a guide and witness.
  3. ANALYSIS AND SYNTHESIS. Working together in small groups (3-4), participants will recite and exposit a poem, roughly following the structure and guidelines established in Day 2. Group discussions will highlight the relative level of difficulty in teaching the poetic form in full—i.e., we will explore how to convey both the parts and the whole to students, with an emphasis on achieving the elusive Aha! moment for the class. Furthermore, participants will judge the relative merits of the structural, lexical, metaphoric, and poetic elements in their selections, in preparation for teaching secondary students with this approach. A concluding discussion will recapitulate the pedagogical features of classroom performance, analysis, synthesis, and imitation.

Robert L. Jackson
Dr. Robert L. Jackson serves as the Chief Academic Officer of Great Hearts Academies.  As a professor of English and education at The King’s College (New York), Dr. Jackson spent a dozen years training future teachers in the rudiments of educational history and philosophy. In 2006, he developed an academic concentration aimed at revitalizing the 2500-year tradition of liberal arts pedagogy through the study of classic works—Quintilian, Erasmus et al. He actively integrates poetry in his educational courses, and his research focuses on the early 20th century debates between progressives and classicists concerning public schools. His articles and essays have been published in Society, Academic Questions, Mythlore, and Comment. He was the recipient of a university fellowship at Florida State University, and received awards for teaching excellence at Florida State University and The King’s College. Prior to joining Great Hearts, his administrative experience also included the oversight of two university language programs (Florida State University, State University of New York at New Paltz), coordination of a childhood education degree (The King’s College), and service as the Associate Provost of The King’s College.



Bob Maranto
Robert Maranto serves as the 21st Century Chair in Leadership at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and previously taught political science at Villanova University and worked at the Brookings Institution and for the Clinton administration in the 1990s. He is interested in civil service reform generally and school reform in particular. Since December 2015 he has edited the Journal of School Choice, having previously served as book review editor. In concert with others, Bob has written or edited 11 scholarly books, including President Obama and Education Reform: The personal and the political (Palgrave/Macmillan 2012), The Obama Presidency: Change and Continuity (Routledge 2011), A Guide to Charter Schools (Rowman & Littlefield Education 2006), Beyond a Government of Strangers (Lexington 2005), and School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools (Westview 2001). He recently co-edited two books appealing to very different audiences: The Politically Correct University (published by conservative AEI), and Judging Bush (published by liberal Stanford University Press). He is now working on a book on education policy in the Obama years and beyond, and another on Arizona charter schools. His more than 70 scholarly publications have appeared in journals including Public Administration ReviewComputers and Education, the Journal of School Leadership, Social Science Quarterly, the Journal of Educational Research, and Education Next. His more than 100 op-eds have appeared in venues including the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Houston Chronicle, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Baltimore Sun.


Register Now for Writing the Rockies