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. 


Fall 2017 classes

MULTIWEEK CLASS:

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.

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About the Instructor:

Gary L. McDowell is the author of 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 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 and is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Belmont University.

 

 

ONE-DAY CLASSES:

Repetition & Refrain: The Value of Repeating Yourself

In this workshop, we are going to talk about how using the same words or phrases over and over can be a good thing. In verse, repetition goes by many names, each a little different in meaning: litany, refrain, cataloguing, anaphora, and epiphora. We will examine each of these, explore their power, and experiment with using them.

Repetition is an incredibly versatile literary device. Anaphora shows up in speechmaking, in Beyoncé lyrics, and in Psalms. Walt Whitman was a master at it. Any kind of deliberately used repetition adds emphasis and heightens emotion. It creates rhythm and cadence while helping us build a poem line by line. Use of a refrain can even free up your imagination and encourage bolder leaps of metaphor than you might otherwise make.

This will be a generative workshop where each student writes something new. I will provide several open-ended prompts to choose from, or you can work from your own ideas. 

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  • Instructor: Christina Stoddard
  • Length of workshop: 3 hours
  • Date: Saturday, Sept. 23
  • Time: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
  • Cost: Class Cancelled
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

About the Instructor:

Christina Stoddard is the author of HIVE, which won the 2015 Brittingham Prize in Poetry and was a finalist for the 2016 Washington State Book Award. Christina’s poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, storySouth, and Tupelo Quarterly. Learn more at www.christinastoddard.com.

 

 

 

VISITING AUTHOR SERIES: The Poetic Line: Making It & Breaking It

In this workshop, we will focus on the poetic line, various kinds of line breaks, and how syntax, line, and stanza can work with—or against—one another. The workshop will aid in drafting new work, but it will also aid in revising existing work, helping us to reread what we’ve written and to recognize our tics and preferences. This workshop is about examining what we may “default” to in free verse—in particular, line length, stanza, and kinds of sentences—and pushing ourselves to question and move beyond those choices. Participants should bring a free verse poem they would like to attend to in these ways.

About the Instructor:

Maggie Smith is the author of three books of poetry: Good Bones (Tupelo Press, September 2017); The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015); and Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005). Smith is also the author of three prizewinning chapbooks. Her poems appear in Best American Poetry, the New York Times, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, Guernica, Plume, AGNI, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. In 2016 her poem “Good Bones” went viral internationally and has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. PRI (Public Radio International) called it “the official poem of 2016.”

Smith has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, among others. She lives in Bexley, Ohio, and is a freelance writer and editor

 

Blues Poetry Workshop

Can a poem be a blues? Is there a line between having the blues and singing or playing it? What about writing the words of it? In this workshop, we will explore the various tools at our disposal as we fight to put that bent note on the page, and to imbue our lives with the aching it sometimes feels that only a wail can tell. We will look at the works by Kevin Young, Natasha Tretheway, Etheridge Knight, as well as some pieces from my collection, Lucy Negro, Redux.

About the Instructor: See below. 

Persona Poems Workshop

What does it mean to develop a character through a series of poems? To take on many different voices? How do you address/approach the line between the poet’s voice (your voice) and the new, imagined voice you are writing into life on the page? We will look at works by Michael Ondaatje and Tyehimba Jess, in addition to some exploration of my own attempts at the practice. 

About the Instructor: 

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Caroline Randall Williams is an award-winning poet and author of Lucy Negro, Redux (Ampersand Books), which is being adapted as a ballet by the Nashville Ballet. She is also co-author, with her mother Alice Randall, of Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Mississippi in 2015, and was named by Southern Living in 2015 as one of the 50 People Changing the South. She has been Writer-in-Residence at Fisk University and currently teaches at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville. 

 

 

VISITING AUTHOR SERIES: 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, September 10
  • Time: 2 - 5 p.m. (with reading by Howell to follow)
  • Cost: SOLD OUT. 
  • Location: Refinery Nashville

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.