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Past Writing Classes & Workshops 

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Matt Mason
Metaphor & Simile are Like, Ummm, the Batteries that Make a Poem (or any description) Run

Saturday, May 14th, 10:00a CST

We all KNOW that metaphors and similes are important for poetry, we all had to learn that in high school. But they're also great for speeches and really any description you might use in life. In this workshop we'll go a little deeper than being tested on which one uses "like" or "as" and which doesn't. We'll talk about what they bring to a description and voice in our work. How do the choices we make in our metaphors affect the development of the “character” in the poem and their motivation? We will discuss how making our metaphors more effective helps us communicate with and connect to those around us. And also, they're fun to play with and useful, too, beyond just poetry.

MATT MASON is the Nebraska State Poet and Executive Director of the Nebraska Writers Collective. He runs poetry programming for the State Department, working in Nepal, Romania, Botswana and Belarus. Mason is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and the author of "Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know"  and "The Baby That Ate Cincinnati."

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Maria Nazos
Sorry, Not Sorry: Curses, Confessions, & Apologies for Things You're Secretly Glad You Did

Saturday, April 9th 10:00a CST

How do we interrogate meanness, retribution, and anger in our poems? How do we turn rage into light and heat? This virtual discussion will investigate how we can project our unflinching humanity on the page while remaining likable. We’ll explore various poets who manage to get away with risky confessions, potentially volatile statements, and controversial revelations, all the while asking ourselves, what keeps us as distant readers engaged? When are we turned off? Is there a way we can ethically invoke shock, discomfort, AND compassion toward ourselves, our subjects, and our readers? The last half hour of class will then be devoted to creating our own ethical “mean-person” on the page through a series of guided writing prompts. We’ll have a wonderful time! 

MARIA NAZOS' poetry, essays, and translations are published in The New Yorker, American Life in Poetry, Cherry Tree, Birmingham Review, North American Review, Denver Quarterly, Copper Nickel, Florida Review, Rosebud, TriQuarterly, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. She served for several years as the editorial assistant for the former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser and his nationally syndicated newspaper column.

Her work has been widely anthologized, including appearing in What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump, edited by Martín Espada (2020 Northwestern University Press) and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, edited by  Grace Bauer and Julie Kane (2016, Lost Horse Press.)

A Pushcart nominee, Maria is the author of A Hymn That Meanders (2011 Wising Up Press) and the chapbook Still Life (2016 Dancing Girl Press). Maria has received scholarships and fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Kimmel Harding Nelson Foundation, the University of Nebraska, where she took her PhD in Creative Writing, and the Vermont Studio Center. She lives with two crazy cats and a patient husband in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Raina Leon
"Back In the Day:" The Elem(entary) of the Body

Saturday, March 12th 10:00a CST

If you were like me as a child, you thought that if the wind blew just hard enough and if you held your arms out strong at just the right angle, you would be able to fly.  You knew your body for the wonders and possibilities of it!  In this workshop, we imagine the moment of first identifying our belly buttons.  We reclaim what others may have teased - a curved back, a lisp, a differently shaped nail - as beautiful.  We are beautiful and worthy of delight. We will explore how our unique qualities are natural and in tune with the miraculous mundane of the natural world. This is a cross-genre workshop in which we will use various experimental techniques to shake loose and play, drawing on readings from writers like Bettina Judd, Sonya Renee Taylor, and Laurie Ann Guerrero among others.  Movement based meditation, online magnet poetry, random word generators, collage techniques, and more will lead you into a new seeing and love of the self. 

DR. RAINA J. LEÓN is an Afro-Latina writer and author of Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self (Alley Cat Books, 2019) as well as four other poetry books. She is a full professor of English Education at Saint Mary’s College of California and founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online journal of Latinx arts. Her fourth book of poetry, "black god mother this body," is forthcoming from Black Freighter Press in 2022. She is currently working on a hybrid manuscript that explores black feminism, mothering, and resistance in and to the academy.

Raina received her BA in Journalism from Pennsylvania State University (2003), MA in Teaching of English from Teachers College Columbia University (2004), MA in Educational Leadership from Framingham State University (2014) and PhD in Education under the Culture, Curriculum and Change strand at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (2010). She recently completed her MFA in Poetry at Saint Mary’s College of California (2016).

She has received fellowships and residencies with the Obsidian Foundation, Community of Writers, Montana Artists Refuge, Macdowell, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annamaghkerrig, Ireland and Ragdale, among others. She seeks out communities of care and craft and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, and Macondo.

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Freesia McKee
The Poetic Line

Saturday, January 22nd, 10:00a CST

As artists, our most foundational tools can be the ones most difficult to use. Case in point: the poetic line. Together, we will conduct experiments in poetic lineation to determine the range of powerful ways lineation changes a poem. This interactive, anti-racist craft session is designed for poets of all skill levels, experiences, and poetic goals. 

FREESIA McKEE (she/her) writes poetry, prose, and genres in-between. She’s the essays editor at South Florida Poetry Journal, a regular contributor to the Ploughshares blog, and teaches virtual writing classes to students all over the country from her home in Macomb, Illinois. Freesia’s work has appeared in Flyway, Bone Bouquet, So to Speak, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Painted Bride Quarterly, CALYX, About Place Journal, and the Ms. Magazine Blog. Her poetry chapbook How Distant the City was published by Headmistress Press.

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Sharon Carr
Spoken Word: The Power of Poetics Out Loud

Saturday, October 9th 10:00a CST

Join Sharon in learning about spoken word and the art of the slam poem as we explore what spoken word is, what we gain from it, and how we can amplify our written work through audible and visual performance. 

Sharon Nicole Carr has experience with spoken word from both performing in, and now aiding in running the Wayne State College Spring and Fall Poetry Slams. She is also an adjunct professor of editing for publication, as well as composition at Wayne State College. She is a freelance editor and layout designer for the WSC Press at Wayne State. In her spare time, Sharon creates artwork, creative writing, and zines.

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Sally Van Doren
Discovering Your Poetic Voice

Saturday, June 26th 10:00a CST

As poet Mark Van Doren (my husband’s grandfather) once said: “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” We will spend the morning working together to discover our poetic voices and nurture their development. Using in-class prompts, we will explore how voice emerges and creates the distinctive character that makes our poems unique. This session should be fruitful for those new to writing poetry as well as seasoned poets. We’ll draw upon the wonderful resource of a constructive group setting to find out how others hear us and how we can best hear ourselves.

Sally Van Doren is an American poet and artist.  She has published three collections of poetry, Promise (LSU Press 2017), Possessive (2012) and Sex at Noon Taxes (2008) which received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American poets. A graduate of Princeton University (BA) and University of Missouri-St. Louis (MFA), she has taught creative writing at the 92nd Street Y, Washington University in St. Louis, the St. Louis Public Schools and the St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center.

Holly Pelesky

Holly Pelesky

The Joy of Revision

Saturday, March 6th 2:00p CST

Although it's often thought of as work, revision simply means re-imagining what you've written. How playful, to separate yourself - the artist - from your art and take it somewhere new.

We'll discuss using space left in the margins for observation, reflection and experimentation. Afterward, I hope you'll want to return to some of your pieces, inspired to see them through a new lens and shape them into something even more impactful.

 

Holly is a graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Nebraska where she co-created its first ever fraternity consisting of a handful of emerging writers she is happy to share writing lives with. She works a predictable day job and afternoons as a slam poetry coach.

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Adrienne Christian

Tuesday, May 3rd, 6:30p CST

Adrienne Christian is the author of three poetry collections: "Worn", "A Proper Lover", and "12023 Woodmont Avenue" (2013).

     Common themes in her work are family, love, and African-American life. Adrienne's poetry, prose, and photographs have been featured in Prairie Schooner, Hayden's Ferry Review, Phoebe, CALYX, Today's Black Woman, Jolie, The Los Angeles Review, and dozens of others.

     In 2020, she earned her PhD in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska. In 2011, she earned her MFA in English with a concentration in Contemporary Poetics from Pacific University. And In 2001, she earned her BA in English with a concentration in 19th Century British Literature from the University of Michigan.

     In 2020, Adrienne was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and won the Common Ground poetry award. In 2016, she was a finalist for the Rita Dove International Poetry Award. In 2007, she won the University of Michigan's Five Under Five Ten Young Alumni Recognition Award.

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James Solheim

Tuesday, April 5th 6:30p CTS

James Solheim will read from a wide range of his works and show how his poetry for adults is interwoven into his writing for children.

James Solheim’s books circle the globe and travel through centuries.  They explore the most amazing foods on earth, explain Santa’s sleigh technology, and tell the stories of history through our grandmas.

     First published by Simon & Schuster, "It’s Disgusting—and We Ate It" has been a hit for Scholastic Book Clubs, Scholastic Book Fairs, Junior Library Guild, and beyond—right up to the current Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Reading Program used in schools to inspire love of learning.

     The Wall Street Journal and PBS included "It’s Disgusting—and We Ate It" in their lists of best books for getting boys to read.  The Washington Post included it on its list of best books for summer reading.  It was an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists and a Blue Ribbon Book of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

     James Solheim’s books have been a big part of charity.  His picture book "Born Yesterday" from Philomel/Penguin Random House was a multi-year choice of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, with 446,000 copies donated to children across the U.S. and beyond.  A Junior Library Guild selection, it received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, where it was Big Picture Book of the Month and chosen as one of the ten best picture books of the year.  "Born Yesterday" was a Children’s Choice book for the CBC and International Literacy Association—this time with children themselves choosing it as a favorite.

     His 2021 book from HarperCollins, "Grandmas Are Greater Than Great", illustrated by New York Times bestselling artist Derek Desierto, explores history through twelve generations of grandmotherly love.  And James illustrated his new book himself—"Eat Your Woolly Mammoths! (Two Million Years of the World's Most Amazing Food Facts, from the Stone Age to the Future)"—available now at your independent bookstore or at jamessolheim.com.

     His poetry for adults has been published in Poetry, The Missouri Review, Poetry Northwest, and The Pushcart Prize, and his long poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Chicago Review, and Northwest Review, among other important magazines.

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Tryphena Yeboah

Tuesday, March 1st, 6:30p CST

Tryphena Yeboah is the author of the chapbook "A Mouthful of Home", selected by the New-Generation African Poets series.

Her stories have appeared in Narrative Magazine and Commonwealth Writers, among others. She is from Ghana and currently lives in Lincoln, where she's a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Hilda Raz

Tuesday, February 1st, 6:30p CST

Hilda Raz's work is widely recognized, and her influence can be felt—as a director, award judge, and contributor—in this country’s most prestigious poetry journals and contests. Her many poetry collections include "What Happens", "All Odd and Splendid, "Trans", "Divine Honors,” and last year, “List and Story,” followed by her Collected and New Poems called “Letter from a Place I’ve Never Been,” edited by Kwame Dawes, in 2021.  

     At the same time, the University of Nebraska Press republished all of her previous poetry collections.  She was the first Glenna Luschei Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies and editor of PRAIRIE SCHOONER and the founding editor of the Raz/Shumaker PS Poetry Prizes in Poetry and Short Fiction.  

     Now retired, she is the editor of the Mary Burritt Poetry Series for the University of New Mexico Press and poetry editor for Bosque Press.

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Wendy Hind
Narrative Medicine for the Soul

Saturday, September 18th 10:00a CST

Every human being experiences universal, yet unique issues concerning their mental and physical state of wholeness. In this workshop we will explore how using poetry to tap into feelings surrounding our health can have enormous healing qualities. Close reading is an integral part of the workshop as is short prompted writing and discussion. I hope you will join me in exploring how poetry can be used as a powerful method in the healing properties of narrative medicine.

 

Wendy Hind, PhD/JD, uses poetry as a form of narrative medicine to understand and heal. Her chapbook “My Tattoos” will be available in August.  She is also the founder and curator of tiny poetry project – narrative medicine for the soul. #tinypoetryproject and tinypoetryproject.com.

Shyla Shehan

Shyla Shehan

Poem Openings

Saturday, May 1st 10:00a CST

Whether your practice is to write a poem every day, once a week, or to write only when the poem stirs inside of you, there is always the question of “how to begin.” In this workshop we’ll explore several perspectives on the topic of poem ‘openings’ and experiment with a few approaches that go beyond using basic prompts to see what might help the words flow onto the page.

Shyla is the Managing Editor for The Good Life Review. She holds an MFA in Writing from the University of Nebraska where she leveled-up her poetry game and discovered that the writing life has more to offer than just a way to cope with the chaos of the Universe.

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Stephanie Marcellus

Exploring the Sonnet

Saturday, February 20th 10:00a CST

February brings hints of spring and what better time to play with Sonnets.  Improve your sonnet skills, or write your first one. Join us as Dr. Stephanie Marcellus shares some tips and tricks on writing sonnets. 

Dr. Stephanie Marcellus teaches creative writing at Wayne State College and is a 2019 recipient of the Balsley Whitmore Award for recognition in teaching.

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Kim Noriega
Creative Regeneration

Saturday, April 30th 10:00a CST

Regeneration—renewal, restoration, to be returned to a state of vigor especially following damage or loss—or a global pandemic. If you feel depleted and uninspired, or simply want to infuse your creative life with more joie de vivre, the Creative Regeneration process can rekindle your creative fire—that spark of sheer joy.

Creative Regeneration is a unique, four-part process, developed by Dr. Sarah Luczaj. You are likely familiar with some of the components—meditation, Gendlin’s focusing, free-writing, and intuitive painting. Each has value in and of itself. Combined, they have a synergistic impact that is intense, potent, and cumulative.

During this two-hour workshop, Kim Noriega—a certified Creative Regeneration facilitator—will take you through all four components of the process. Additionally, every participant will receive their own Ebook version of Dr. Luczaj’s book, "Creative Regeneration" for continued reference. You will need some supplies on hand for this workshop: whatever you’d like for meditation—a candle, incense, etc; pen and paper for freewriting; and paint—whatever suits you—and paper for the painting component. No knowledge or experience in any art form required to attend.

KIM NORIEGA is the author of "Name Me", the title poem of which was a finalist for the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in textbooks, journals, and anthologies including: American Life in Poetry, Paris-Atlantic, Split Lip, and The Tishman Review. She was the winner of San Miguel Literary Sala’s Flash Nonfiction Prize, a finalist for the Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize, and one of 30 poets selected to collaborate with 30 film artists as a part of the 2018 Visible Poetry Project.

Kim recently retired from a 30-year career with San Diego Public Library as the head of its family literacy program. She is a Teaching Artist and Writing Mentor with the Poetry Barn and President of the Board of Directors for the nonprofit, AIM Higher. She is a certified facilitator of the Creative Regeneration Process and an expert consultant in Family Literacy with the Pacific Library Partnership.

Kim is passionate about writing, teaching, wolf recovery, and the well being of feral cats. She lives in San Diego with her husband, Ernie, and—you guessed it—a clowder of cats. For more about Kim’s work and her offerings visit kimnoriega.com.

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Read Your Work &Meet Your Poetry Peeps

Thursday, March 24th 6:30p CST

By popular request we are bringing you a virtual opportunity to read your poetry, get feedback, and meet other members of the Nebraska Poetry Society.

This will be a positive environment where everyone can feel comfortable sharing.

It will be an inspirational experience where you will hear from other poets about what is working in your poem.

Bring a poem you want to share or just arrive prepared to give honest, constructive, and positive feedback to other poets.

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Kwame Dawes
What Art Can Teach the Poet

Saturday, January 22nd, 10:00a CST

Poets over the centuries have found value and challenge in dialoguing with the work of painters, photographers, sculptors and other artists who find expression through the physical image. It is a challenge because the poet trades in words—in the abstraction of words.  Many poets in the past didn't have access to art unless it was available in museums and other centers close to them.  Today, technology has given us access to great artwork from the past and in the present moment and from all over the world.  As Nebraska poets, there may be a great deal we can learn from the art of the Midwest which has a long tradition.  French novelist, Marcel Proust, made some provocative and helpful comments on art in his insanely long opus, A La Reserche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time): “It is only through art that we can escape from ourselves and know how another person sees a universe which is not the same as our own and whose landscapes would otherwise have remained as unknown as any there may be on the moon.” There is something richly complex about the strange combination of empathy and self-awareness, which strikes me as important to poets—how we can be native and alien to ourselves and to others and how productive that can be for poets.  This workshop will devote itself to writing in response to art—seeking language that can live up to the brilliance of great art.  The workshop will combine some useful considerations of technique and strategy with actual writing time and the time to share. 

KWAME DAWES is the author of twenty-two books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. His collection, Nebraska was published in 2019. He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and George W. Holmes University Professor at the University of Nebraska.  He teaches in the Pacific MFA Program. He is Director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Artistic Director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. Dawes is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.  His awards include an Emmy, the Forward Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN/Nora Magid Award and the prestigious Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry. In 2021, Kwame Dawes was named editor of American Life in Poetry. In 2021, Dawes was nominated for the Neustadt Prize.

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Trey Moody

Tuesday, January 4th, 6:30p CST

Trey Moody is the author of Thought That Nature (Sarabande Books, 2014), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry.

His more recent poems have appeared in The Believer, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, The Massachusetts Review, and New England Review.

He teaches at Creighton University and lives with his daughter in Omaha, Nebraska. 

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Freesia McKee
Poetry for Prose Writers

Saturday, July 10th 10:00a CST

In this accessible, friendly workshop designed for writers of prose, we’ll go through the fundamentals of building a poem. You’ll learn to leap from your literary comfort zone into experiments with fragmentation, lineation, imagery, and more, and you’ll leave this workshop with a bouquet of poetic techniques you can start using right away.

Freesia McKee (she/her) writes poetry, prose, and genres in-between. She’s the essays editor at South Florida Poetry Journal, a regular contributor to the Ploughshares blog, and teaches virtual writing classes to students all over the country from her home in Macomb, Illinois. Freesia’s work has appeared in Flyway, Bone Bouquet, So to Speak, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Painted Bride Quarterly, CALYX, About Place Journal, and the Ms. Magazine Blog. Her poetry chapbook How Distant the City was published by Headmistress Press. Freesia welcomes you to connect with her at freesiamckee.com or through Twitter at @freesiamckee.

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Matt Mason

Waking Up Worlds

Saturday, April 10th 10:00a CST

In spring, we turn to life and flowers and sitcom clichés!

In this workshop, we'll try to avoid the latter, but we'll write poems about worlds waking up after winters (both calendar-wise and metaphorical). 

You'll hear some poems, write some poems and, if you like, share some of what you wrote.

Matt Mason is the Nebraska State Poet and Executive Director of the Nebraska Writers Collective. He runs poetry programming for the State Department, working in Nepal, Romania, Botswana and Belarus. Mason is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and the author of "Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know"  and "The Baby That Ate Cincinnati."

Nebraska Poetry Society