Established 2014
Director: Dr. Kim Bridgford
Non-profit since Dec. 2015


By the Sea
by Emily Dickinson

I started early, took my dog,
And visited the sea;
The mermaids in the basement
Came out to look at me,

And frigates in the upper floor
Extended hempen hands,
Presuming me to be a mouse
Aground, upon the sands.

But no man moved me till the tide
Went past my simple shoe,
And past my apron and my belt,
And past my bodice too,

And made as he would eat me up
As wholly as a dew
Upon a dandelion's sleeve—
And then I started too.

And he—he followed close behind;
I felt his silver heel
Upon my ankle,—then my shoes
Would overflow with pearl.

Until we met the solid town,
No man he seemed to know;
And bowing with a mighty look
At me, the sea withdrew.

Three-Day Workshops/Seminars—Run Wed, Thur, and Fri pm. Cost $900 (Includes panels & evening readings, lunch & dinner)

Melissa Balmain, Meredith Bergmann, Martín Espada, Anna M. Evans, H.L. Hix.

Two-Day Workshops/Seminars—Run Thur/Fri pm. Cost $250

Mahogany Browne, Clare Rossini.

One-Day Workshops— Cost $125

Rafael Campo, (Thur am); Allison Joseph, (Wed pm); Lynne Thompson, (Fri am); Michael Shewmaker, (Thur pm); Jon Tribble, (Wed am).

Metrical Consultations with Annie Finch. FREE! (First-come, first-served).

Panels & Evening Readings, Lunch & Dinner Only—Cost $600

Three-Day Workshops/Seminars

Writing Funny
with Melissa Balmain

What makes a poem funny? As we read hilarious work by poets past and present, we'll explore the three essentials of comic verse, and how those essentials can be supported by word choice, pacing, rhyme, meter, syntax, and more. Along the way, we'll consider such questions as: Can free verse be as funny as formal verse? Are any subjects off limits to the comic poet? Can a happy poem be truly funny? What kinds of comic verse do editors love receiving? Is entering humor contests worth it? And what does the term "comic verse" or "light verse" (which covers everything from gallows humor to giddy nonsense) mean to each of us? The workshop will include discussion of participants' poems, plus exercises to warm up everyone's funny bone.

Melissa Balmain is the Editor of Light, America's premier journal of comic verse. She teaches humor writing, poetry writing, and journalism at the University of Rochester. A winner of the Able Muse Book Award, she has been a finalist for the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, the X.J. Kennedy Parody Award, and the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award (twice). Her poems have appeared in such places as American Arts Quarterly, The American Bystander, Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry, Lighten Up Online, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, Poetry Daily, The Spectator (UK), and The Washington Post; her prose in The New Yorker, The New York Times, McSweeney's, Success, and Weekly Humorist. Her poetry collection Walking In on People (Able Muse Press), is often assumed by online shoppers to be some kind of porn.

Ekphrastic poetry
with Meredith Bergmann

In this workshop we will explore the ways works of art might inspire verse. We'll study the history and tradition of ekphrastic description, and consider different kinds of ekphrasis, including poems describing nonexistent works of art and poems employing forms that parallel the formal structures of an artwork. We'll take advantage of the opportunities given us by contemporary art, with its focus on concept and process, to see how we poets try to discover or imagine an artist's process of thought, contemplation, and play. The workshop will include both in-class exercises, indoors and out, and careful consideration (prosodic and conceptual) of at least one poem by you.

Meredith Bergmann is a sculptor. Her public monuments can be seen in Boston and New York. Her poetry and criticism have appeared in many journals, including Barrow Street, Contemporary Poetry Review, Hudson Review, Light, Mezzo Cammin, The New Criterion, The Raintown Review, The Tri Quarterly Review and the anthology Hot Sonnets. She was poetry editor of American Arts Quarterly from 2006-2017. Her chapbook "A Special Education" was published in 2014 by EXOT Books.

Poetry of the Political Imagination
with Martin Espada

This is a generative workshop. Participants generate new work based on the distribution and discussion of poems by major poets of the political imagination. Workshop participants write on the spot—or beneath a favorite tree—and then share their work, reading aloud to the group (for thunderous applause). Together we will channel anger into art, curse our enemies, speak in the voices of the damned and despised, sing the praises of janitors, laugh at dictators and presidents, tell dirty secrets, and dissent from the official story. The objective is the creation of a new poem every day, exploring how best to combine vision and language, craft and commitment, giving flight to the imagination within us, poetic and political.

Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York. He has published almost twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest collection of poems from Norton is called Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (2016). Other books of poems include The Trouble Ball (2011), The Republic of Poetry (2006), Alabanza (2003), A Mayan Astronomer in Hell's Kitchen (2000), Imagine the Angels of Bread (1996), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (1993) and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover's Hands (1990). His many honors include the 2018 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, an American Book Award, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The title poem of his collection Alabanza, about 9/11, has been widely anthologized and performed. His book of essays, Zapata's Disciple (1998), was banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the state of Arizona, and has been issued in a new edition by Northwestern University Press. A former tenant lawyer in Greater Boston's Latino community, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Seminar with Anna M. Evans

Participants in this women-only seminar commit to the preparation of a rigorous 3000+ word scholarly essay on a woman poet for the Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project, an online database currently containing 50+ such essays founded by Dr. Kim Bridgford.

Essays should be about one third biography and two thirds critical analysis, written using MLA format, and include 3-4 poems. Each essay should aim to provide a critical introduction to the poet written at a level suitable for undergraduate readers.

Anna M. Evans' poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, American Arts Quarterly, and 32 Poems. She gained her MFA from Bennington College. Recipient of Fellowships from the MacDowell Artists' Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and winner of the 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Readers' Choice Award, she currently teaches at West Windsor Art Center and Richard Stockton College of NJ. Her sonnet collection, Sisters & Courtesans, is available from White Violet Press. Her new collection, Under Dark Waters: Surviving the Titanic, is available from Able Muse Press. Visit her online at

"Tell It Slant"
with H.L. Hix

Emily Dickinson's advice to "Tell all the truth but tell it slant" is familiar: in that sense, we know it well. But do we know it well in the sense that we get what it means, or in the sense that we are able to take her advice? (After all, to be consistent, her imperative itself would have to be told slant.) In this workshop, we will incline ourselves toward Dickinson's counsel. We'll read together and reflect on various poems that might be construed as examples of telling it slant, and we'll try some writing exercises/prompts that might offer us ways to tell it slant. Candidates for truths told slant will include poems by Margaret Avison, Lucille Clifton, Josephine Jacobsen, and others.

H. L. Hix's poetry books include Chromatic, a finalist for the National Book Award, and American Anger, which NPR cited as "a disturbingly accurate take on current events." His most recent poetry collection is Rain Inscription; his most recent essay collection is Demonstrategy: Poetry, For and Against; and his most recent translation, a collaboration with Julie Kane, is Terribly In Love, selected poems by contemporary Lithuanian poet Tautvyda Marcinkeviĉiũt&ering;.

Two-Day Workshops/Seminars

Limbs and Language
with Mahogany Browne

This workshop is designed to investigate how our memories inform our poetry. Focusing on imagery and new ways in which we look at the body as a landscape, our dreams as a blueprint and our yesterdays as an almanac. This generative writing workshop will consist of five components: analyzation, discussion, writing, editing & performance. This journey will bloom new writing in an effort to create an urgent dialogue with our limbs as language.

Mahogany Browne, a Cave Canem, Poets House & Serenbe Focus alum, is the author of several books including Redbone (nominated for NAACP Outstanding Literary Works), Dear Twitter: Love Letters Hashed Out On-line, recommended by Small Press Distribution & Best Poetry Books of 2010. Mahogany bridges the gap between lyrical poets and literary emcee. Browne has toured Germany, Amsterdam, England, Canada and recently Australia as 1/3 of the cultural arts exchange project Global Poetics. Her journalism work has been published in magazines Uptown, KING, XXL, The Source, Canada's The Word and UK's MOBO. Her poetry has been published in literary journals Pluck, Manhattanville Review, Muzzle, Union Station Mag, Literary Bohemian, Bestiary, Joint & The Feminist Wire. She is the co-editor of forthcoming anthology The Break Beat Poets: Black Girl Magic and and chapbook collection Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books). She is an Urban Word NYC Artistic Director (as seen on HBO's Brave New Voices), founder of Women Writers of Color Reading Room, Director of BLM@Pratt Programming and facilitates performance poetry and writing workshops throughout the country. Browne is also the publisher of Penmanship Books, the Nuyorican Poets Café Poetry Program Director and Friday Night Slam curator and recent graduate from Pratt Institute MFA Writing & Activism program.

A Feast of Free-Verse Forms
with Clare Rossini

Free verse form? Isn't that an oxymoron? But in fact, many free-verse poets have evolved an organized infrastructure of sound, line, white space, and stanza to give their poems a distinctive look on the page and—perhaps even more important—an original music. We'll look at a wide variety of models by contemporary American poets and examine one another's poems, imagining new ways for them to sit on the page. A packet of inspiring examples will be provided to each participant.

Clare Rossini's third collection, Lingo, was published by University of Akron Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals, including The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, The Ploughshares, and Poetry; in online publications such as Drunken Boat and Poetry Daily; as well as in textbooks and anthologies, including Wild Dreams Poetry Daily Essentials, Poets for a New Century, and the Best American Poetry series. Her poems have been featured on Connecticut Public Radio and the BBC. She has received fellowships from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Maxwell Shepherd Foundation, and the Bush Foundation. Rossini taught for many years in the Vermont College low-residency MFA Program. She currently serves as Artist-in-Residence in the English Department at Trinity College in Hartford, teaching creative writing courses and directing an arts outreach program which places college students in inner-city public school art classrooms.

One-Day Workshops

Poetry & Healing
with Rafael Campo

The earliest of civilizations, from many Native American cultures to that of the ancient Greeks, recognized an inextricable interrelationship between poetry and healing; surely, the best poems we have today demand that we listen, and not just with our ears, but with our whole hearts. In this workshop, we'll examine the ways in which poems join us empathetically, through their sound and structure as much as through their insistent invitations to share our diverse human experiences. We'll ponder how poems can make effective use of the richly complex tensions between such linked notions as authorship/authority, confession/ confinement, hyperbole/humility, and identity/immunity. To best achieve our goals, we'll devote some time to reading together works by Thom Gunn, Marilyn Hacker, Maxine Kumin, Frank O'Hara, Anne Sexton, and William Carlos Williams.

Goals: 1) To explore and understand the link between creative self-expression and healing; 2) To define a "biocultural" narrative of the illness experience, in contrast to the restrictive biomedical narrative encountered in most health care settings; 3) To investigate the historical connections between language, art, and therapeusis; 4) To develop strategies for integrating humanistic work in the delivery of health care.

Rafael Campo, M.A., M.D., D. Litt., is a poet and essayist who teaches and practices internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He is also on the faculty of Lesley University's Creative Writing MFA Program. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Poetry Series award, and a Lambda Literary Award for his poetry; his third collection of poetry, Diva (Duke University Press, 2000), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Enemy (DUP, 2007), won the Sheila Motton Book Award from the New England Poetry Club. His work has appeared in many periodicals including The Nation, The New Republic, the New York Times Magazine, Paris Review, Poetry,,, and the Washington Post Book World.

Elegy and Anti-elegy
with Allison Joseph

In this workshop, students will engage and examine poetic elegies. What makes a poem an elegy? What makes a poem an anti-elegy? Do poems about death and its circumstances have "requirements"? Does the elegaic mode include poems that consider the deaths of animals, neighborhoods, and traditions? Poets to be considered during this workshop include Dylan Thomas, W.H. Auden, Michael S. Harper, Kim Addonizio, and Tony Hoagland. Particular attention will be paid to the elegy as a teaching tool for undergraduate creative writing students.

Allison Joseph is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where she also serves as editor and poetry editor of Crab Orchard Review. She is also the founder of No Chair Press, a chapbook imprint serving women poets who write in traditional form. Her latest books are Mortal Rewards (White Violet Press), The Purpose of Hands (Glass Lyre Press), Mercurial (Mayapple Press), and What Once You Loved (Barefoot Muse Press). Her next book, Confessions of a Barefaced Woman, is forthcoming in Spring 2018 from Red Hen Press.

Her books and chapbooks include What Keeps Us Here (Ampersand Press), Soul Train (Carnegie Mellon University Press), In Every Seam (University of Pittsburgh), Wordly Pleasures (Word Tech), Imitation of Life (Carnegie Mellon UP), Voice: Poems (Mayapple Press), My Father's Kites (Steel Toe Books), Trace Particles (Backbone Press), Little Epiphanies (Imaginary Friend Press), Multitudes (forthcoming, Word Tech Communications)​, and The Purpose of Hands (forthcoming, Glass Lyre Press).

Show and Tell: Beyond the Concrete
with Michael Shewmaker

This one-day workshop will question the common dictum nearly every poet has heard: show don't tell. We will consider the value of abstract statements and discuss methods to effectively employ them. We will read and discuss how poets like W.B. Yeats, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Hayden, James Wright, William Carlos Williams, and Gwendolyn Brooks balance showing and telling in their work. Participants will come away from the workshop with a handful of strategies to consider when negotiating image and statement in their own poems.

Michael Shewmaker is a Jones Lecturer in poetry at Stanford University. His first collection of poems, Penumbra (Ohio UP, 2017), won the 2016 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, his poems recently appear in Best American Poetry, Missouri Review, Narrative, Oxford American, Parnassus, Poetry Daily, Virginia Quarterly Review, Yale Review, and other literary journals and anthologies. Born in Texarkana, Texas, he earned an MFA from McNeese State University and a PhD in creative writing from Texas Tech University. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Emily.

Poetry Plays Hopscotch
with Lynne Thompson

Every writer looks for fresh ideas for their writing when putting pen to paper or finger to key. In this workshop, we will discuss poems that have employed wordplay—acrostics, abcedarians, centos, ghazals—and other techniques and use them to energize our ailing poems or to jumpstart new poems. Bring paper and pens or pencils or your lap- tops as well as a poem or two that you aren't satisfied with and want to revise or employ new techniques for. I will bring prompts to get us going and, together, we'll watch the magic happen!

Lynne Thompson's latest collection of poetry, Fretwork, was selected by Jane Hirshfield as the winner of the Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize in 2018 and will be published in the spring of 2019. Thompson is also the author of Start With a Small Guitar and Beg No Pardon, her first book of poems, won the Perugia Book Award and the Great Lakes Colleges New Writers Award. Thompson was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles in 2015. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Ecotone, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, Barrow Street, Salamander, and Poetry, as well as the anthology Fire and Rain, Ecopoetry of California, among others.

Ordering Your Poetry Manuscript
with Jon Tribble

Discuss the various ways you can make your poetry manuscript stand out from the rest. Why some manuscripts keep a publisher turning the pages while others make that a trial. The importance of the first poem and the title. Insights in the process that goes into publication from an editor who has worked on over 80 poetry books and read around 1100 collections a year for the past 20 years.

Jon Tribble's newest collection of poems, God of the Kitchen from Glass Lyre Press, is about the experiences and culture of working at Kentucky Fried Chicken as a teenager in the late 1970s. He is also the author of Natural State (Glass Lyre Press, 2016.) and And There Is Many a Good Thing (Salmon Poetry, 2017). His poems have appeared in print journals and anthologies, including Ploughshares, Poetry, Crazyhorse, Quarterly West, and The Jazz Poetry Anthology, and online at storySouth, The Blue Mountain Review, and Vox Populi. He teaches at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he is the managing editor of Crab Orchard Review and the series editor of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry published by SIU Press.

Metrical-Formal Poetry Consultant

Annie Finch

will be available for free consultations on the role and/or the structure of meter and form in conference registrants' poems. Consultations average about 20 minutes and may cover up to three pages of poetry. First come, first served.

Annie Finch is the author of five books of poetry, including Eve (finalist for the Yale Series of Younger Poets and selected as a Carnegie Mellon's Classic Contemporaries reprint) Calendars ( shortlisted for numerous awards including the National Poetry Series and Foreword Poetry Book of the Year) and Spells: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press). Her poetry has appeared onstage at Carnegie Hall and in The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century American Poetry. Annie's books about poetry include The Ghost of Meter, The Body of Poetry, and A Poet's Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry. She has also edited or coedited influential anthologies on poetic form including A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women, An Exaltation of Forms, and most recently Villanelles and Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters. Annie has received the Robert Fitzgerald Award from the West Chester Poetry Conference and the Sarasvati Award for Poetry. She teaches and lectures on spirituality and poetry and has recently completed a book of nonfiction, The Witch in You. She lives and writes in Washington DC and teaches on the graduate creative writing faculty at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.