I teach at Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver. Below are some classes. The bibliography links are not only required books but recommendations if you want to go deeper. If you are interested in a class visit, workshop or one-day class, please contact me.
Workshops & Craft| Reading as a Writer| Poets in Translation |
Workshops & Craft
By Heart: Seven Essential Poems and Practices
Each week, we’ll take poems into our bodies through learning them by heart. Then, we will then share them by recitation and performance. But most importantly, by living with great poems day by day, we’ll explore and be inspired by master poets of exceptional craft. Exercises, experiments, and your own poems will follow. In a practice shared by Jean Valentine, Robert Pinsky, and others, learning poems by heart will make you a better poet. Learn poems by Emily Dickinson, Philip Larkin, and Robert Hayden. This is a generative and active class where you’ll absorb craft and make drafts rather than receive critiques. (Anxious learners: You’ll receive the seven poem list as soon as you sign up.)
Lynn has found a remarkable teaching technique—a way to reach the intellectual, emotional, and technical heart of a poem. And what’s more remarkable, a way to mold technique to our own creative purposes. This was truly a “Reading Like a Writer” experience.~ M. M.
I love how inviting Lynn’s classes feel. They are very down to earth and not pretentious which really helps me to be open in class and with my writing.~J.T.
Introduction to Poetry Workshop
In this introductory workshop, we’ll explore ways in which sound, image, and idea conspire to create the poem. We’ll join together as a small community, supporting each other’s experiments and learning from the approach of a number of poets. There’ll be inventive exercises and plenty of feedback to get you inspired and thinking about language in new ways.
I loved how Lynn encouraged us in a gentle and playful manner. She really took time reading and giving thoughtful written feedback.~K.H.
Definitely one of the most enjoyable and helpful classes I’ve ever taken!
I always teach a poetic form. [Bibliography on poetic forms]
Here are some recommended introductory books on poetry. [Bibliography]
4 x 4—Four Poems in Four Weeks
The generative workshop is an alchemical space where we’re invited to take risks, through experimentation, on behalf of new and vital work. Over four weeks, we’ll engage with unique strategies that will open and energize our creative process, resulting in four new poetic works or poems by course’s end. Writers of all stages looking for a structure to produce new work are welcome to join us for this generative and focused adventure at the seam where form and content meet.
I loved so much about this class- the commitments we set up to write- the encouragement- the feedback- the website set up for us- the idea generators – and most of all, Lynn’s enthusiasm and energy for her beloved topic.~K.H
This was a WONDERFUL class. It has started me writing more than any class I have taken. Writing in a new way, that is, more relaxed. Lynn has a special way of opening a class up to ideas, and igniting the creative spirit and encourages class comradery in her relaxed, fun way. ~S.B.
Poems in Series: Come into the Cage
I am a cage, in search of a bird -Franz Kafka
Sometimes, the best poetry happens the other way around—you contain the space and let the magic enter. In this craft-centered workshop we will write poems that belong together because of subject or construction. Using examples from John Berryman, Martha Collins, Major Jackson, Lynn Emanuel, DH Lawrence, and others, we will explore and practice strategies to generate more poems by pushing against the known. We will tune up our detectors so as not to be boring. Simply put, we will breakthrough to innovation by entering the cage. Ideas, challenges and examples fill the first half of the class, followed by workshop and feedback in the second half. [Bibliography]
In this craft-centered class, we will explore ways to change direction using rhetorical moves and poetic structures. We’ll make lists with a twist, become ironic, switch it up halfway through and be concessional—not confessional. Inspired by Michael Theune’s Structure & Surprise: Engaging Poetic Turns, a book recommended by Kim Addonizio on her visit to Lighthouse, the craft shack is the perfect place to make and play—exercises, experiments, and mini workshops. Poets and prose writers both welcome. Get ready for a revolution. [Bibliography]
Fun and Fearless Form
Why experiment with poetic forms? ‘Playing by the rules’ can get you out of writing ruts and flex your poetry muscle. You will be introduced to 6-8 poetic forms, read stellar examples by Elizabeth Bishop, Dante, Marilyn Hacker, Theodore Roethke and the ever- talented Anonymous. Then we’ll write on our own and share. Bring your poetic license and a sense of fun.
Poetry 101: Gotta Start Somewhere
Great feedback on all workshopped pieces and exposed me to lots of other poets and styles. Created a friendly and open atmosphere. ~Anon.
A Sophistikated Craft Workshop, Not Starring Tony Hoagland
Using Tony Hoagland’s book of essays Real Sophistikation as our text, we’ll explore post modern poetry in all its guts and glory. We will read and apply lessons from essays on metaphor, the work of Larry Levis and Bill Matthews, plus two others from the collection. This class is an excellent way for writers of all levels to expand their reading and learn how to apply the wisdom of master writers to your process and your poems.
Required Text: Tony Hoagland, Real sofistikashun: essays on poetry and craft, Graywolf 2006. Back to class
Reading as a Writer: Jane Kenyon & Donald Hall
Jane Kenyon was a poet of exquisite, lyrical, aching charm. “Gravity balanced by a neat wit” said Maxine Kumin. Donald Hall is a master of plain spoken song and scrutiny on rural life, loss and baseball. Together Kenyon and Hall made a life in poetry, a marriage that lasted 23 years until Kenyon’s death from leukemia at age 47. In this class we will examine the stunning strength and magic of their best poems and practice some of the moves of these two superb writers make. Get ready for “Having It Out with Melancholy” and learning the “Names of Horses” and more.
Required texts: Jane Kenyon: Collected Poems (2005) or Jane Kenyon: Otherwise: New and Collected Poems (1996) and The Selected Poems of Donald Hall (2015) [Bibliography]
Lynn knew the material and guided us well to salient craft techniques. Her enthusiasm and responsiveness were superior.
~ M. M.
Discovering Emily Dickinson Through Her Letters
The wit, soul and humanness of Emily Dickinson comes through loud and clear in her correspondence and reading her letters opens doors to her poems. One of our best American poets, “the only kangaroo among the beauty,” we will discover a more human side to Dickinson and delve into her poems via her Selected Letters, compiled and edited by Thomas H. Johnson. Beginning with her 15-year-old self and ending with a note written weeks before her death, Selected Letters breaks through the myths of the Belle of Amherst and illuminates her genius.
Required texts: Emily Dickinson: Selected Letters, Belknap Press; and an edition, preferably Johnson or Franklin of Emily Dickinson Selected Poems [Bibliography]
blog post: Is this your Emily Dickinson year?
The Emily Dickinson Experience
In this class we will recreate Emily Dickinson’s poems in the way that she made them: from the repurposed envelopes she received, with multi-directional writing, cross outs and revisions. Then we will do some wild writing of our own with the multiple sizes, styles, and shapes of the material Emily used. Based on the book The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems by Jen Bervin and the recent Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them, we will experience and play with the what and how of Dickinson’s genius.
Contemporary Women Poets: More than the Usual Suspects
At LitFest, in June, usually in even numbered years, I teach a class based on my directed reading. If you’re a woman who has published a book of poems in the past two years, it’s likely I’ve looked at your book. Discoveries of six great writers are revealed. And, in honor of the long running WOM-PO listserv(?!) a foremother (celebrated woman poet) is an added bonus. blog post: Why read women poets.
- In 2014, our foremother was Alicia Ostriker
- In 2016, our foremother was Ruth Stone (1915-2011)
- In 2018, our foremother was Carolyn Kizer (1925-2014)
- In 2020, Our foremother was Jean Valentine
Every LitFest for the past 7 years I pair two poets writing in languages other than English. So far we have had poets writing in French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, German, Russian, Swedish and Greek.
- Zbigniew Herbert & Tomas Tranströmer
- Marina Tsvetaeva & Wislawa Szymborska
- Anna Akhmatova & Paul Celan – blog post on Anna Akhmatova
- Federico Lorca & Pablo Neruda
- C.P. Cavafy & Eugenio Montale – blog post: How many ways are there to say . . .
- Sappho & Fernando Pessoa
- Osip Mandelstam & Rainer Marie Rilke
- Francis Ponge & Yosano Akiko in 2020!