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Poets House Fall 2020 Workshops: Weekend Master Classes and Six-Week Courses

Poets House rolls out new online poetry workshops for the fall season! Using video conferencing, leading poets from across the country will bring their expertise to the comfort of your own home beginning in October. All classes feature discussion of student writing and may also include discussion of outside texts/materials, writing exercises, and assignments. Click on the class titles below for complete class descriptions and full bios of instructors. NOTE: The application and registration deadline for the six-week courses and master classes is September 24. However, six-week workshops are open to all and are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis, so don’t delay!




Master Classes offer advanced writers of poetry an opportunity to work intensively with some of the most respected poets of our time. An application of three poems is required, sent through Submittable; space is limited.  

The Personal and the Political with Rick Barot
Saturday, October 24, 2 – 6pm
Saturday, October 31, 2 – 6pm

Author of four collections of poetry and poetry editor of the New England Review, Rick Barot addresses “poetry’s role as a catalyst for redress” in this workshop built for turbulent times. The class explores the ways poetic works “might pivot—whether messily or fluidly—between the personal and the political, the private and the historical.”

Cryptoforms with Kazim Ali
Saturday, November 7, 2 – 6pm
Sunday, November 8, 12 – 4pm

Taught by the prolific, multi-genre writer Kazim Ali, this workshop introduces the ways in which contemporary poets re-invent classical forms—such as the sonnet, the ghazal, the pantoum, and sestina—”to fit the requirements of contemporary times and subjects” as well as compose “new forms borne of our information-saturated and media-fluent new world of signs and significance,” such as poems based on math theorems, tarot decks, and multiple choice quizzes. The second day of this class will be devoted to workshopping assignments by students. 

In Brief: The Pleasures and Perils of the Short Poem with Rae Armantrout
Saturday, December 5,  2 – 6pm
Sunday, December 6, 12 – 4pm

Author of ten books and a master of the short poem, Rae Armantrout will present haikus, tankas, and short-form poems by Yosa Buson, Ethridge Knight, Harryette Mullen, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, Elaine Equi, and more. She’ll guide writing prompts to help participants “pare down to the bone” an existing poem of their own as well as start new short poems. 



Open to all levels, six-week courses are offered on a wide variety of topics. Register early—first come, first served!

Everyday Experimentation with Cyree Jarelle Johnson
Six Tuesdays, October 13 – November 24, 6 – 8:30pm (skipping November 3).

This class taught by the winner of the 2020 Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry for his book SLINGSHOT explores the question of “how does experimentation occur in poetry?” The writing workshop will be “part creation, part discussion,” examining works like ZONG! and Tender Buttons, among others.

Avant-Garde to the People with Xandria Phillips
Six Wednesdays, October 14 – November 25, (skipping November 11)

“Drastic times call for drastic poetics,” notes Xandria Phillips in their description of this writing workshop which is devoted to experimentation and “gives students the opportunity to combine personal histories with avant-garde approaches to crafting language.” As part of the class, students will read work by innovative poets and examine interdisciplinary practices. Phillips’ book HULL is the winner of the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Trans Poetry.

Writing Towards the Unknown with Joanna Fuhrman
Six Thursdays, October 15 – November 19

“In this time of uncertainty and isolation, this class will focus on writing exercises that encourage community and collaboration, says Joanna Fuhrman, the author of six volumes of poetry. “The goal of each exercise will be to figure out ways to break habits of thinking and develop a playful approach to language and life. Chat-box based writing games, film clips, art works, music, and sound are among the experiments for generating new poems. Fuhrman will also lead discussion of published poets who “wrestle with profound and political issues” without their work “becoming a prisoner to dogma or cliché.”

Using a “Canon” (Feminine) with Patricia Spears Jones
Six Saturdays, October 17 – November 21

Award-winning poet Patricia Spears Jones offers “a generative poetry workshop for accomplished poets who want to read, explore and use a small universe of poets—contemporary women poets—to inspire new work and engage their practice.” Readings include work by Harryette Mullen, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Fanny Howe, Cathy Park Hong,  Trish Salah,  Lorna Dee Cervantes, Sally Mao Wen, and more. Patricia Spears Jones is the author of A Lucent Fire New and Selected Poems, among other collections.

We invite you to find out more about poetry workshops at Poets House: for full class descriptions and details about registration, application, and pricing click here.