We support and educate writers of all kinds. 

Workshops at the Porch are rigorous yet welcoming, encouraging creative expression while sharpening your understanding of craft. Led by instructors with extensive teaching experience, each class focuses on a particular genre, approach, or use of writing, and allows participants to learn from one another in a supportive, friendly atmosphere.

In our intermediate to advanced workshops and one-day seminars we aim for thorough discussion, feedback, and pedagogy on par with courses offered through degree-earning programs. These Porch workshops are a great choice if you're thinking about applying for an MFA or looking to keep up your writing practice and skills after college or graduate school. But if you're new to writing or just looking for some inspiring practice and play with words on the page, we've got the perfect workshop for you, too.

We'll be adding additional classes as we grow; if there's something you're interested in that's not listed here, please let us know! 

Please note: Our cancellation policies have changed. Please click here to view our updated policies.  


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Gift Certificate for Eight-week Workshop

Gift Certificate for One Day Workshop

For a gift certificate in another amount of your choice, please write us at hello (at) porchtn.org. 


spring 2017 classes

CLASS CANCELLED DUE TO INSTRUCTOR ILLNESS. We hope to reschedule as soon as possible! 

We All Write Sentences

This workshop invites both poets and prose writers to consider more closely the power of pushing out the boundaries of the English sentence. Reading, across genres, sentences written by masters of the ecstatic--James Agee, Gwendolyn Brooks, Cormac McCarthy, Emily Dickinson, Ross Gay, Melville, Gerald Stern, C.K. Williams, Joy Williams--we will combine linguistic and creative craft study for the sake of better serving the imagination, the music. 

  • Instructor: Rebecca Gayle Howell
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date:  Sunday, April 23

About the Instructor: 

Native to Kentucky, Rebecca Gayle Howell is a senior editor for the Oxford American. Her debut poetry collection, Render /An Apocalypse, was a finalist for ForeWord's Book of the Year and was praised widely, most notably in a cover review by David L. Ulin for the Los Angeles Times, who called the collection "remarkable." Howell is also the translator of Amal al-Jubouri's verse memoir of the Iraq War, Hagar Before the Occupation/Hagar After the Occupation. A Library Journal Best Book of Poetry for 2011, Hagar received critical acclaim throughout the U.S., the Middle East, and India and was shortlisted for Three Percent's Best Translated Book Award. Among Howell's honors are fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Carson McCullers Center, as well as a Pushcart Prize. Howell's latest book, American Purgatory, was selected by Don Share for The Sexton Prize; London's Eyewear Publishing released the book to both the United Kingdom and the United States in early 2017.

 

VISITING WRITER SERIES WORKSHOP:

Someday I'll Love _______: Odes to Self

The Porch is proud to bring poets and writers who are also experienced teachers to Nashville for readings of their work and workshops in which they share their insights and inspirations with our community. This spring, we're pleased to welcome visiting poet Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, of Cleveland, Ohio, for a look at how to write a love poem to the self, through the lens of the poems "Katy" by Frank O'Hara, "Someday I'll Love Roger Reeves" by Roger Reeves, and "Someday I'll Love Ocean Vuong" by Ocean Vuong.

  • Instructor: Hanif Willis
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date:  Saturday, April 8
  • Time: 2 - 5 p.m.
  • SOLD OUT. To join a waitlist, email hello@porchtn.org. 
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

About the Instructor:

Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib is a poet, writer, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. He is a columnist at MTV News, and a Callaloo creative writing fellow. His first full-length collection of poems, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, was released by Button Poetry in July 2016.

 

 

Writing Love and Solidarity: A Poetry Workshop

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public" - Cornel West

During dark times we turn to poetry. Perhaps now more than ever, we might find solace in the words of those who came before us, who lived through uncertain times and left behind poems and stories as blueprints for how to survive and live without fear; how to resist injustice while celebrating what we love.

In this workshop, we will come together and read the works of poets who fought and are still fighting for justice, poets who teach us how to use our own voices as tools for peace, solidarity, and liberation: Pablo Neruda, Cesar Vallejo, Antonio Machado, Nazim Hikmet, Morgan Parker, Ross Gay, Ilya Kaminsky, and others.

Most of the workshop will be devoted to reading these poems aloud, writing our own poems of resistance, and talking about ways to take care of ourselves through our art. We will also dedicate space to sharing resources and ideas for moving forward, as well as ways to stay safe.

My hope is that we leave this workshop with questions, connections, and the drive to keep the light of our craft burning.

  • Instructor: Kendra DeColo
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date:  Saturday, January 7
  • Time: 2 - 5 p.m.
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

About the Instructor:

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Kendra DeColo is the author of two poetry collections: My Dinner with Ron Jeremy (Third Man Books, 2016) and Thieves in the Afterlife (Saturnalia Books, 2014), selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2013 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize and named “Nashville’s BestPoetry Book 2014” by the Nashville Scene. Her poems have appeared in Ninth Letter, Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She has received awards and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Millay Colony, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is book editor at Muzzle Magazine and a visiting poetry professor at Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

 

 

 

Love Poetry

Whether it was for your first crush in 9th grade or your beloved of decades, we've all sat down to write a love poem as wonderous and true as Neruda, Shakespeare, Barrett Browning, Dickinson, or Rumi. Sometimes e.e. cummings is right and "kisses are a better fate/ than wisdom" when those love poems capture exactly what we need them to, yet sometimes we need a little more wisdom and a little less cliche. Join us for a workshop that pinpoints what elevates a love poem from a box of conversation hearts into a spread of truffles, and come away with a few drafts of poem for your loved one(s) just in time for Valentine's Day.  

  • Instructor: Alicia Brandewie
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date:  Saturday, February 4
  • Time: 2 - 5 p.m.
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

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About the Instructor:

Alicia Marie Brandewie grew up in the small town of Wyoming, Ohio, and thoroughly enjoys the confusion its name elicits. She fell in love with the South while attending Emory University, and she stayed for her MFA in poetry at Vanderbilt University. Alicia has received scholarships to The New Harmony Writers Workshop and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and was a winner of the 2011 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Competition. She is a poetry editor for the Nashville Review, and her poems can be found in Waccamaw and Redivider

 

 

 

 

Why So Serious?: Humor in Poetry

When we think about poetry, we don’t often think of the genre as particularly funny. But humorous rhetoric can add unexpected layers and meaning to our poems; it can work as both lantern and sword. 

In this four-week class, we’ll read and discuss humorous poems by Lucille Clifton, Natalie Diaz, Kerry James Evans, Kim Addonizio, Kevin Young, Frank O’Hara, Wendy Xu, and others. We’ll look at how humor has been used to examine serious issues without trivializing them, and we’ll discuss ways to employ humorous rhetoric—not to diminish tough subject matter, but as a tool for resilience and an act of empowerment. We will view the role of humor through the lens of feminism, race, and culture in attempts to connect our stories with public and political narratives, and we will workshop our own poems that have been inspired by weekly prompts.

  • Instructor: Anne Barngrover
  • Length of workshop: 4 weeks
  • Date:  Wednesdays, Mar. 1 - 22
  • Time: 7 - 9 p.m.
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

About the Instructor:

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Anne Barngrover is the author of two books of poetry—Brazen Creature (forthcoming, Editor's Choice Selection, University of Akron Press) and Yell Hound Blues (Shipwreckt Books, 2013)—and co-author, with poet Avni Vyas, of the chapbook Candy in Our Brains (CutBank, 2014). She earned her MFA from Florida State and her PhD in English and Creative Writing from University of Missouri. 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Badly: A Poetry Workshop

In the essay collection The Virtues of Poetry, James Longenbach describes what he calls "dilation," where poets pile up words, abstract images, and colors in a way that risks the reader's boredom. "Reading poems, we expect the language to hold our attention, because the syllables create dense patterns of sounds, reinforcing a similar density of meaning," he writes. How then do we recognize bland writing? How then can we say with certainty that a line is brilliant or boring? Longenbach concludes that a line's success depends on its relationship to other effects. "We slow down, our thoughts wander, and we're gripped by what we're reading because we've drifted away from it." Our workshop will consider more deeply Longenbach's concept of writing badly, and more importantly, we will attempt to get beyond the notion that there is any bad writing at all—the often paralyzing effect that prevents poets from putting down words in the first place. 

  • Instructor: Win Bassett
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date:  Saturday, March 11
  • Time: 2 - 5 p.m.
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

About the Instructor:

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Win Bassett’s essays and interviews have been published by The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Oxford American, and The Poetry Foundation. A scholarship recipient to the Virginia Quarterly Review Writers’ Conference, his poems have appeared in Image, Still: The Journal, Ruminate, and The Southern Poetry Anthology series. He serves as Editor-at-Large for The Sewanee Review

Win is a former criminal prosecutor and volunteers for the PEN Prison Writing Program. He serves as Legal Advisor for The Field Office, a literary agency based in Kentucky, and previously served on the editorial staff of the Virginia Quarterly Review and Bull City Press, an independent literary press in North Carolina. 

He grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia and holds degrees from North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Yale Divinity School. He now lives in Nashville, where he teaches and coaches at a boys’ school. 

 

photo by Kim Green  

photo by Kim Green

 

Writing from Art & Photography with Bill Brown

Ekphrasis is a word from the Greek for description of a work of art. How can poetry or prose climb into a work of art or photograph and create a new work of art or important narrative?  I will provide a gallery of photos and paintings. Please bring a photo of yourself as a child. We will write several prompts strategies and share our work.

Recent poem published in Clover in Washington State and my new chapbook, Morning Window:

Window

Sometimes a painting is a window

   big enough to step through. It’s best

       to take your shoes off so you don’t

scar the frame. Just skip your way

   out into a hillside pasture where

      a donkey is guarding a goat herd—

a donkey that wants her nose scratched

   and ears rubbed, the soft inside like

      the nape of a child’s neck. A tractor

sits on top, retired, living in a place

   with a view of a creek lined with

      with sycamores. Perch on the iron

round of its seat and drive into the past,

   your grandfather’s farm at Bible Hill.

      The spring, not a mile away, could

be in a Frost poem, rising clear,

   young enough not to tatter. Take

      the dipper from a maple root and skim

the surface of water striders. Drink

   and Grandfather will be there waiting.

      He is your namesake,

dead some sixty years,

   his rat terrier, Bob, perched

      against his boots.

He doesn’t know that

      brought you here.

He scratches Bob’s head,

   wonders why you’ve

      come.

  • Instructor: Bill Brown
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date:  Saturday, April 1
  • Time: 2 - 5 p.m.
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

 

Scars, Gifts and Journeys with Bill Brown

How can personal history, real or imagined, build poems and prose excursions. I will provide prompt ideas and models. Come to explore your past and present, brainstorm, write and share with others. Let’s all leave with real beginnings and first drafts.

First published in Southern Poetry Review, “Mounding Potatoes” is a scar, journey and gift.

 

Mounding Potatoes

 

The phone call at 2 a.m.

was my sister saying

that you had died in

the emergency room

but had been shocked

to life so that your pulse

stabilized, and you told

the doctor you remembered

the whole event, heart stopping

and the sharp electric trip back.

 

He said that such a memory wasn’t likely.

But you stuck to your story

even during the ambulance ride

to the medical center where

magical balloons sailed

their timely voyage through your blood

to stretch the vessels

which clogged your heart.

 

Mother, today you smile at my concern,

knowing what death is like.

At eighty-two, you heard

no voices from beyond,

no angelic music fluttering

a heavenly welcome.

Your faith was stuck

in the strength of this world

as the frantic voiced commands

and the laying on of fire

kept you in life’s routine.

 

Two weeks later, I marvel to watch

your strong hands mound

young plants in my garden,

dreaming the while

of new potatoes with parsley,

resurrected from

this simple ground.

About the Instructor:

Bill Brown, who grew up in Dyersburg, Tennessee, is the author of five collections of poetry, three chapbooks and a writing textbook on which he collaborated with Malcolm Glass. His latest collections are The News Inside (Iris Press, 2010) and Late Winter (Iris Press, 2008) During the past twenty years, he has published hundreds of poems and articles in college journals, magazines and anthologies. In 1999 Brown wrote and co-produced the Instructional Television Series, Student Centered Learning, for Nashville Public Television. He holds a degree in history from Bethel College and graduate degrees in English from the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College and George Peabody College. Since 1983 Brown directed the writing program at Hume-Fogg Academic High School in Nashville. He retired from Hume-Fogg in May, 2003 and accepted a part time lecturer’s position at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. In 1995 the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts named him Distinguished Teacher in the Arts. He has been a Scholar in Poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a two-time recipient of Fellowships in poetry from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and twice the recipient of the Smith-Corona Award for entering the best student writing in the National Scholastic Writing Awards. In 2011 the Tennessee Writers Alliance awarded Brown Writer of the Year. He and his wife Suzanne live in the hills of Robertson County with a tribe of cats.

 

 

 

 

FALL 2016 CLASSES

Formal Poetry

At the heart of all successful poetry is one thing: form, or the lack thereof.  Poets search for rhythms both found and natural, arc language haphazardly and with precise control simultaneously in the hope that every now and then lightning will strike. Randall Jarrell, speaking of how rare a great poem is, says that a poet is someone who stands outside in a thunderstorm his whole life and is lucky to be struck by lightning five or six times.  In order to understand how poems are made, we’ll spend this course going back to its roots.  We will test Robert Frost’s dictum that writing without form is like playing tennis with the net down.  How dependent are we on form?  How do we write in form?  How do we then break form and write in free verse?  We’ll be reading voluminously some of the more successful contemporary (and Modern) formal poetry (David Shumate, Nathaniel Perry, Rebecca Hazelton, Pablo Neruda, and Ellen Bryant Voigt, for example) in order to learn the how and why of this equation: music + form + language = poem, and we’ll then, through imitation and experiment, create our own formal poetry.  

  • Instructor: Gary McDowell
  • Length of workshop: 6 weeks
  • Dates: Tuesdays, Sept 6 - October 11
  • Time: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Location: The Skillery in Germantown

About the Instructor:

Gary McDowell is the author of a collection of lyric essays, Caesura: Essays (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2017) and five collections of poetry, including Mysteries in a World that Thinks There Are None (Burnside Review Press, 2016), winner of the 2014 Burnside Review Press Book Award; Weeping at a Stranger’s Funeral (Dream Horse Press, 2014); and American Amen (Dream Horse Press, 2010), winner of the 2009 Orphic Prize in Poetry. He’s also the co-editor, with F. Daniel Rzicznek, of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (Rose Metal Press, 2010). His poems and essays have appeared in journals such as American Poetry ReviewThe NationGulf CoastNew England ReviewPrairie Schooner, and Colorado Review. He lives in Nashville, TN with his family where he’s an assistant professor of English and Poetry Editor of The Belmont Story Review at Belmont University.

 

Writing Motherhood: A Poetry Workshop

In this generative workshop we will explore the rich, complicated, and transformative experience of becoming a mother. From writing non-traditional birth narratives to experimenting with voice, form, and style, we will use different writing exercises to subvert/expand/reclaim the way we talk about motherhood, creating a new language for our identities. The goal is to celebrate our stories and come away with a fresh and grounded understanding of our new selves.

  • Instructor: Kendra DeColo
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Dates: Saturday, October 8
  • Time: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Location: The Skillery in Germantown

About the Instructor:

Kendra DeColo is the author of two poetry collections: My Dinner with Ron Jeremy (Third Man Books, 2016) and Thieves in the Afterlife (Saturnalia Books, 2014), selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2013 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize and named “Nashville’s Best Poetry Book 2014” by the Nashville Scene. Her poems have appeared in Ninth Letter, Indiana ReviewCopper NickelVerse Daily, and elsewhere. She has received awards and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Millay Colony, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is book editor at Muzzle Magazine and a visiting poetry professor at Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

The Snake Eats Its Own Tail: A Cross-Genre Workshop

Like the mythological snake Ouroboros, who forever eats his own tail, the best beginnings are intricately and essentially connected to their endings. In this class, we’ll perform close readings of several beginnings and endings in both poetry and fiction, discussing the decisions each writer made along the way, and how each opening dictates each ending and each ending dictates its opening. Afterward, we’ll look at how you can emulate those techniques in our own work.

  • Instructor: Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Dates: Tuesday, October 11
  • Time: 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Location: The Skillery in Germantown

About the Instructor:

Hailing from Nashville, TN, Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum is an award-winning freelance editorwriting coach, and Lecturer of Creative Writing and English at the University of Colorado. He is also is Senior Editor of F(r)iction, Founder of the Colorado Writers' Workshop, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PoemoftheWeek.org, Founder and Editor of The Floodgate Poetry Series, and editor of two anthologies. His first book of poems, Ghost Gear (University of Arkansas Press, 2014), was a finalist for the Miller Williams Prize, the Colorado Book Award, and an INDIEFAB.

His poemsreviewsinterviewsarticles, and podcasts have appeared in periodicals such as The Writer's Chronicle, Poets & Writers, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Glimmer Train, American Literary Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, The Missouri Review, storySouth, Blackbird, InsideHigherEd.com, and Hayden's Ferry Review among others. 

Andrew holds a Masters of Fine Arts Degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is Acquisitions Editor for Upper Rubber Boot Books, and is a contributing-editor for The Southern Indiana Review.

 

Poetry Workshops with Bill Brown:

Our poetry workshops with legendary poet and teacher Bill Brown are some of our most beloved classes. For each of his classes, Bill creates new prompt ideas with poetry models which can work for new poems or new creative nonfiction prose pieces. His gift to workshop members is to have participants write, share beginnings, and leave with first drafts that are life-important.

Writing from the Poems of Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda wrote a famous book of poetic questions. At the beginning of my last poetry collection, Elemental, I start the book with one of his questions that opened an important world for me:

And does the father who lives in your dreams

Die again when you awaken?

 Come to explore many of Neruda’s questions and answer them poetically with your own lives, real and imagined.

  • Instructor: Bill Brown
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date: Saturday, Nov. 12
  • Time: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Location: The Skillery in Germantown

Poetry Workshop with Bill Brown: The Fictive Imagination and the Emotional Truth

James Britton said, “What is memory but how we think it must have been?” Muriel Rukeyser wrote, “The world is made of stories…not of atoms.” Come prepared to brainstorm and write from prompt ideas and poetry models. I will give strategies and ideas from past experiences, real and imagined. The prompts will work for poetry and creative-nonfiction. We will write, share and leave with the beginnings and first drafts of real poems or prose compositions.

  • Instructor: Bill Brown
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Dates: Saturday, Dec. 3
  • Time: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Cost: $50 non-members$45 members
  • Location: The Skillery in Germantown

About the Instructor: 

Bill Brown, who grew up in Dyersburg, Tennessee, is the author of five collections of poetry, three chapbooks and a writing textbook on which he collaborated with Malcolm Glass. His latest collections are The News Inside (Iris Press, 2010) and Late Winter (Iris Press, 2008). During the past twenty years, he has published hundreds of poems and articles in college journals, magazines and anthologies. In 1999 Brown wrote and co-produced the Instructional Television Series, Student Centered Learning, for Nashville Public Television. He holds a degree in history from Bethel College and graduate degrees in English from the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College and George Peabody College. From 1983 to 2003, Brown directed the writing program at Hume-Fogg Academic High School in Nashville. Upon his retirement, he accepted a part-time lecturer’s position at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. In 1995 the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts named him Distinguished Teacher in the Arts. He has been a Scholar in Poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a two-time recipient of Fellowships in poetry from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and twice the recipient of the Smith-Corona Award for entering the best student writing in the National Scholastic Writing Awards. In 2011 the Tennessee Writers Alliance awarded Brown Writer of the Year. He and his wife Suzanne live in the hills of Robertson County with a tribe of cats. 

 


Past Poetry workshops

Nature Writing (for both poets and prose writers)

Writers and poets from Lucretius to Emily Dickinson, Sappho to Wendell Berry have long drawn on nature for a sense of purpose or belonging. What contemporary writers have lost, though, is easy uplift from descriptions of ocean vistas or Luna moth encounters. Spring peepers are no mere harbingers of the season when the current rate of amphibian extinction dwarfs background rates for the past 10,000 years. But if we can’t look to such songs for peace of mind, what are we to do? And if writers turn away, who will marvel at the long toes of the endangered long-toed salamander? Who will grasp Whitman’s ecstasy in Leaves of Grass?

This workshop will address how writing can grow our increasingly complex relationship to nature—whether we are experienced mountaineers or sleepers who love the sound of rain on the roof. Come prepared to read passages from classic and recent nature texts and to work with a range of writing prompts, at least one of which requires taking a beaten path into the great if not as wild outdoors. 

 

The Music of Language: A Poetry Workshop 

Richard Hugo tells us, in his essay, “Writing off the Subject,” that “all truth must conform to music.”  In other words, how we shape our experiences to the music of our language creates poetry.  We owe reality nothing and the truth about our feelings everything, and yet still we find it hard to move beyond mere experience and memory to create image-driven, sonically pleasing poems.  In order to practice doing so, we will spend our first few weeks reading widely among contemporary poets (both their poems and their essays on poetics), and through writing exercises and imitations (poems written under the influence of the poets we’ll be reading), we’ll transition into several weeks of the workshopping of our poems.  So come prepared to read, write, and have fun learning not only how to write poems but how to be poets.

 

A Poetry Workshop with Bill Brown

We're honored to have legendary poet and teacher Bill Brown join us again for an all-day workshop. Brown will supply model poems and new prompt ideas. Writers must come prepared to write in response to 6 or 7 prompts. They will also take home exercises for future exploration on their own. There will be a break for lunch, but a meal is not provided. (Several restaurants are nearby, or you may BYO.)

 

Love and Dissent: A Poetry Workshop

“Every poem is a love poem. Every poem is a political poem. So say the masters. Every love poem is political. Every political poem must fall in love.” – Jericho Brown

Love poems and political poems are possibly two of the trickiest genres to write. How can we honor what we love with original, subversive detail that transcends the personal? How can we write the political while avoiding traps of didacticism and generalizations? In this generative workshop we will explore the political love poem— poems that praise and interrogate the world, that seek disruption and intimacy, and incorporate disparate elements from traditional odes to punk rock. The class will be devoted to writing prompts and discussion of student work. We will also read poems by Osip Mandelstam, Terrance Hayes, Keetje Kuipers, Angel Nafis, Natalie Diaz and others to inspire our writing and expand our sense of what a poem can do.

 

Letting Narrative Lead the Way

Much of poetry’s delight stems from a poet’s ability to combine things that are unlike and surprising. In this workshop we will explore how poems which blend two narratives create a third meaning or larger narrative. To start, we’ll look at selections from T.R. Hummer, Julianna Baggott, and Larry Levis, among others. We’ll then explore poetic narratives ourselves via in-class exercises.

 

Going to the Source: Family Poetry

My mother's playing cards with my aunt, 
Spite and Malice, the family pastime, the game
my grandmother taught all her daughters. 
 

-Louise Glück

Our families are inspirations and obstacles, sources of love and strife in our poetry. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, step-parents, in-laws, adopted siblings, honorary parents, live-in relatives, and loved ones separated from us by distances of space and time: they've filled our lives with stories and moments that have left deep impressions on us. We want to share those in our poems, but how? Sometimes what actually happened isn't right for the poem. Sometimes we don't want to reveal the truth because we're afraid of hurting someone. Sometimes our own feelings—loyalties and retributions—get in the way of our poems. 

In this workshop, we'll look to masters who have come before us, take permission from them, write together, then come together to discuss how to write our rough drafts into polished poems. We'll balance honoring both our families and our poems. 

 

THE END: A Poetry Workshop

What else to say?
We end in joy. 

-Theodore Roethke

Every poem must end. But how? When? To what effect? In this workshop, we will consider what the greats have to say on the subject, unravel the mysteries of what makes a memorable and satisfying ending, and nail down specific strategies we can put to work in our own poems. The class will be equal parts discussion and writing workshop.

 

Exploring Nashville Through Ekphrasis: Writing at the Intersection of Poetry, Art & History

Join Stephanie Pruitt for a series of creative writing workshops that will take you on a tour of the city. Each week participants will meet at a different location and explore the stories, images, and ideas that have shaped the place. In the tradition of Auden's "The Shield of Achilles," Frank O'Hara's "Why I Am Not a Painter,", and Pruitt's extensive work with literary and visual art, we'll turn our experiential research into poems. The six session workshop series will take us to art galleries, private homes, and historic institutions. Our last class will occur around a table for a shared meal and constructive writing critique. You'll complete this experience with at least ten solid drafts of poems, an insider's view of Nashville, and a huge literary toolkit with writing prompts and craft skills to last a lifetime.

Registration includes all entrance fees, and a full meal during our final session. 

 

Narrative Poetry: Story and Image

Degas said he didn't paint
what he saw, but what
would enable them to see
the thing he had.

––Jack Gilbert

We all have stories––good stories, stories worth telling. But how do we tell them? How do we decide where to begin, where to end, what to skip? How do we control the passage of time––slow it down, speed it up, pause it entirely? In this workshop we’ll consider the various ways stories can be shaped in poetry, and then we’ll jump right in and practice writing them. Throughout the workshop, special attention will be paid to one of our greatest storytelling tools: the image. We’ll consider different kinds of images, such as the still image, the cinematic image, and images of the imagination. And we’ll practice building well-crafted, dynamic images that can do the work of the storytelling for us. 

 

A Poetry Workshop with Bill Brown

Come write about specific events and places in your life, real or imagined. Bill has created new prompt ideas with poetry models which can work for new poems or new creative nonfiction prose pieces. His gift to workshop members is to have participants write, share beginnings, and leave with first drafts that are life-important.

 

Two Voices, Two Parts: Working with Prose and Poetry in the Same Work

“But its passion for poetry would not permit either.  Since it knows no other way than the way of poetry, it has clung to it tenaciously.”

—from The Knapsack Notebook, in Narrow Road to the Interior, by Bashō, translated by Sam Hamill

 Cross genre? Hybrid text? This workshop will be dedicated to manuscripts in which the language alternates between (converses, competes, cooperates, clashes with?) poetry and prose. Over the course of four weeks, we’ll seek to discover how it is that these two kinds of language function together in a single work. What are the elements that make up the poetry, and the prose, of the work? What is its overall structure?  What are its meanings? (And are they two different kinds of language?) The class will pay particular attention to image, white space, verb tense as it relates to tone and narrative perspective, syntax and lexicon, and rhetorical choice in opening sentences or verses. Over the course of four sessions, each writer will present her or his work once, while acting as reader for the other writers. We will also look at models of prose-and-poetry within a single text, including the haibun, a combination of prose and haiku. Texts will include The Knapsack Notebook in Narrow Road to the Interior, by Bashō, and excerpts from The Spring of My Life, by Kobayashi Issa, La Vita Nuova by Dante, and The Double Legacy by Rachel Haddas, as well as work by Lyn Hejinian, Carla Harryman, and Catherine Meng.