SunJune Workshops

Sept. 5-26: A KINGDOM OF GREEN: Finding a Poetry of Plants & Trees, a writing workshop with Nickole Brown
, a poetry revision workshop with Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Sept. 19-Oct. 15: IN THE BEGINNING: Exploring the Sacred with Poetry
, a writing workshop with Jessica Jacobs
Oct. 24-Nov. 19: TURN IT AND TURN IT: Exploring the Sacred with Poetry
, a writing workshop with Jessica Jacobs

September 5-26
In a time of great anxiety and unrest, how can we foster a literacy of the forest to read its long-evolved wisdom? What can root systems teach us about reciprocity through networks? How can we listen to leaves speaking in gestures and sounds we often can’t understand or know how to hear? What words can we find to save what’s left of our green spaces, much less our place among them? This four-week online course, open to writers of any level of experience, will seek answers to these questions and more. With a diligent mix of research, observation, and an exploration of your own memories, dreams, and everyday interactions, we’ll deepen our awareness of all things flora. Together, we’ll discuss poems and essays by others but also venture out under the canopy to find our own poems that might bridge the divide between our kingdom and theirs.

Class Dates:  Four Sundays, 1-4 pm EST: September 5, 12, 19, and 26.

Class Size: Capped at 12 participants.

Tuition: $400, with two need-based sliding-scale spots available.

Instructor: Nickole Brown received her MFA from the Vermont College, studied literature at Oxford University, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She worked at Sarabande Books for ten years. Her first collection, Sister, a novel-in-poems, was published in 2007 with a new edition reissued in 2018. Her second book, a biography-in-poems about her grandmother called Fanny Says, came out from BOA Editions in 2015 and won the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry. The audio book of that collection came out in 2017. She lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, in Asheville where she volunteers at several different animal sanctuaries. Since 2016, she’s been writing about these animals, resisting the kind of pastorals that made her (and many of the working-class folks from the Kentucky that raised her) feel shut out of nature and the writing about it. Her work speaks in a Southern-trash-talking way about nature beautiful, damaged, dangerous, and in desperate need of saving. To Those Who Were Our First Gods, a chapbook of these first nine poems, won the 2018 Rattle Prize, and her essay-in-poems, The Donkey Elegies, was published by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2020. 

September 13-October 4
The focus of this live online workshop will be on revision: how can we acquire the tools we need to revise our poems on our own? Many poets find it challenging to revise their work without the help of a poetry group, workshop or mentor. Participants will learn how to strengthen and hone their revision skills which will — systematically and in depth — address all the elements of craft in a poem. Title, form, syntax, tone, metaphor, imagery, line-breaks, assonantal and alliterative movements, punctuation, & more. After each 1 hour class, we’ll have an open discussion for ½ hour.

Class Dates:  Four Mondays, 7-8:30pm EST: September 13, 20, 27 and October 4.

Class Size: Capped at 14 participants.

Tuition: $400, with two need-based sliding-scale spots available.

Instructor: Laure-Anne Bosselaar, the Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara, is the author of These Many Rooms, published by Four Way Books in 2019, The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, Small Gods of Grief, winner of the Isabella Gardner Prize for Poetry for 2001, and of  A New Hunger – an ALA Notable Book. Her poetry was featured on Poetry Daily, The Academy of American Poets’ “Poem-a-Day” website, and in reviews such as Orion, Georgia Review, Ploughshares and Harvard Review.  Garrison Keillor read four of her poems on NPR’s “A Writer’s Almanac.”  A Pushcart Prize recipient, and the editor of four anthologies, she taught at Emerson College,  Sarah Lawrence College, UCSB, and teaches at the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College, in Boston. 

IN THE BEGINNING: Exploring the Sacred with Poetry
Sept. 19-Oct. 15
We live in a time of always more, always faster, where what’s new insists on itself as what’s most important. But outside this frenzy are questions that demand slow pondering, queries old as human consciousness: Why are we here? Is there a God? How do we live knowing our lives have a definite deadline? What does it mean to pray? The long history of human engagement with these ideas, the striving after answers, is best recorded in religious texts. There, we find the stories and rituals, commandments and prohibitions, that, whether or not we believe in a faith of our own, have shaped the world in which we live. And, as a model for our own writing, we’ll be delving into the work of writers who’ve grappled with these ideas and texts.

Each week will focus on one of the following: Doubt, Modern Midrash, Imagining (Images of) God, Prayer.

Class Dates: Four Tuesdays, 7-8:30pm EST: September 21, 28 and October 5 and 12. Asynchronous option available.

TURN IT AND TURN IT: Exploring the Sacred with Poetry
Oct. 24-Nov. 19
“Turn it and turn it for all is within it,” said rabbinic sage Ben Bag-Bag about the Torah. Yet these words can speak to all religious texts and practices. For whether or not we believe in a religious tradition of our own, there we find the stories and rituals, commandments and prohibitions that have shaped the world in which we live. And in our month together, we’ll explore writing into and from these sacred stories, facets of mortality, ritual and religious practices, and theophany—the way the divine, however you define it, manifests in the world. As a model for your own poems, we’ll be delving into the work of writers who’ve grappled with these ideas and texts, poets such as Joy Harjo, Yehuda Amichai, Jane Hirschfeld, Jericho Brown, Naomi Shihab Nye, Matthew Olzmann, and others.

Each week will focus on one of the following: Modern Midrash, Rituals & Practices, Approaches to Mortality, Theophany (manifestations of the divine in the world).

Class Dates: Four Tuesdays, 7-8:30pm EST: October 26, November 2, 9, and 16. Asynchronous option available.

Notes for Both Courses: Intended for writers of all levels, writers of all faiths or none, each week will be a blend of close readings, spirited exchange, generative exercises, small-group feedback and in-depth instructor response on a new poem. Though both of these courses compliment each other, they can be taken independently. Each course is capped at 12 participants.

Tuition: Each course is $400, with two need-based sliding-scale spots available. If you’d like to sign up for both courses, the tuition is $700.

Instructor: Jessica Jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going (Four Way Books), one of Library Journal’s Best Poetry Books of the Year and winner of the Devil’s Kitchen Reading and Goldie Awards. Her debut collection, Pelvis with Distance (White Pine Press), a biography-in-poems of Georgia O’Keeffe, won the New Mexico Book Award in Poetry and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in publications including Orion, New England Review, Guernica, and The Mississippi Review. An avid long-distance runner, Jessica has worked as a rock climbing instructor, bartender, and professor—teaching for Hendrix College, UNC-Wilmington’s MFA program, and Writing Workshops in Greece, among other programs—and now serves as the Chapbook Editor for Beloit Poetry Journal. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown, with whom she co-authored Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire (Spruce Books/PenguinRandomHouse), and is at work on a collection of poems exploring spirituality, Torah, and Midrash.

Interested in registering in advance for one or more of these courses?

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