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Workshops are funded in part by Humanities Nebraska. 

Writing Classes & Workshops 

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Kelsey Bigelow
Bridging the Page &
Stage Gap: How All Poets Can Learn from Both

Saturday, May 18th 10:00a CST

Too often, poets segment our genre into "traditional page poetry" and "modern spoken word poetry," believing we are one or the other. This creates a divide and only grows the disconnect between page and stage poets. Join Kelsey Bigelow, a poet living in the spectrum between both styles, as she guides us through how to bridge this gap and learn how each style informs the other. 

KELSEY BIGELOW is a spoken word and page poet based in Des Moines. In her work, she molds incredibly specific emotions into something human, digestible, and cathartic.

     She released her chapbook, "Sprig of Lilac," in 2018 and released her spoken word album, Depression Holders and Secret Keepers, in 2021.

     Her work is published in or forthcoming with Central Avenue Publishing, Pile Press, Lyrical Iowa, Backchannels Journal, Spirit Lake Review, and elsewhere, and she is a 2024 Pushcart Prize nominee.

     She's the founder and leader of the Des Moines Poetry Workshop, the chair for the Iowa Poetry Association Poetry Slam, the co-tournament director for the BlackBerry Peach National Poetry Slam, and more. Get to know Kelsey through her website.

After you register, you will receive an "admission ticket" with the zoom link information on it.

$35 or FREE to Members

Annual Membership $35

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Crafting Identity:
How to Write Like Your Authentic Self

Saturday, August 24th 10:00a CST

Who are we? Who are we told we are? Who do we know ourselves to be? 

     This workshop will explore how identity—imagined, imposed, and re-imagined—is utilized in poetics to communicate and construct objective and subjective reality. Through close examination of language, structure, form and other devices used within selected poems, workshop participants will become familiar with approaches to this craft that focus on powerfully probing and defining identity, in ways that empower them and accurately reflect the themes or experiences they are exploring in their writing.  

     To that end, a series of writing prompts will be used so that participants may generate poems from different perspectives in order to move closer to the expression of their essential/hidden selves in their writing. 

     We will also tackle basic elements of poetry and discuss workshop poems using select poetic forms.

KEISHA-GAYE ANDERSON is a Jamaican-born poet, writer, and visual artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her poetry books include: Gathering the Waters (Jamii Publishing 2014) Everything Is Necessary (Willow Books 2019) and A Spell for Living (Agape 2020), which received the Editors’ Choice recognition for the Numinous Orisons, Luminous Origin Literary Award.

     Her poetry, fiction, and essays have been widely published in Kweli Literary Journal, Small Axe Salon, Interviewing the Caribbean, Renaissance Noire, The Caribbean Writer, The Killens Review of Arts and Letters, Mosaic Literary Magazine, African Voices Magazine, The Langston Hughes Review, Streetnotes: Cross-Cultural Poetics, Caribbean in Transit Arts Journal, The Mom Egg Review, and others.

     She is a graduate of the Syracuse University Newhouse School and College of Arts and Sciences and hold an M.F.A. in creative writing from The City College, CUNY.

After you register, you will receive an "admission ticket" with the zoom link information on it.

$35 or FREE to Members

Annual Membership $35

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Erica Reid
Glorious Dailiness

Saturday, November 2nd 10:00a CST

As poet Mary Ruefle says, “I did not always know authors were ordinary people living ordinary lives.” What do we lose when we fail to celebrate — or worse, ignore! — the wondrous details of ordinary life?

     This generative workshop makes space for that celebration through conversation, example poems, and dedicated writing time with prompts to help capture the details of our own glorious dailiness.

ERICA REID's debut collection "Ghost Man on Second" won the 2023 Donald Justice Poetry Prize and was published by Autumn House Press earlier this year. Erica’s poems appear in Rattle, Cherry Tree, Colorado Review, and more.

After you register, you will receive an "admission ticket" with the zoom link information on it.

$35 or FREE to Members

Annual Membership $35

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Michael Broder
Taking Your
Temperament: Working with Story, Structure, Music & Imagination

Saturday, June 15th 10:00a CST

In an influential 1988 essay, poet Gregory Orr identifies story, structure, music, and imagination as the four temperaments that define poets and their poetry. What is your poetic temperament?   

     In this class, we will explore Orr’s model, delving into his ideas about the interaction of finite temperaments (story, structure) and infinite temperaments (music, imagination).

     Reading poems by Julia Alvarez, Gwendolyn Brooks, Audre Lorde, Frank O’Hara, Dorothy Parker, James Wright, and others, we will observe how the four temperaments allow poets, in the words of Orr, “to forge language into the convincing unities we call poems.”

     This class is suitable for writers and readers alike. Poets will gain new insight into their own poetic temperament and how they can refine it to achieve their creative objectives. Readers will deepen their engagement with poetry by acquiring a new interpretive framework.

     A segment devoted to generative writing will allow writers and non-writers alike to explore their poetic temperament. 

MICHAEL BRODER is the author of "Drug and Disease Free" (Indolent Books, 2016) and "This Life Now" (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2014), a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry.

     His work has been published in Columbia Poetry Review, The American Poetry Review, The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and numerous others.

     He holds a BA from Columbia University, an MFA from New York University, and a PhD in classics from The Graduate Center, CUNY.

After you register, you will receive an "admission ticket" with the zoom link information on it.

$35 or FREE to Members

Annual Membership $35

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Javon Rustin
Bringing Home
Metaphors - From Stars to Constellations

Saturday, September 7th 10:00a CST

Every line of poetry is a star. In this class, we will be making constellations. We will lay out our stars into a shape that will guide readers / listeners to a deeper meaning the same way stars have guided ship captains through nights at sea.

     All constellations are extended metaphors. We will be going through the process of beginning and editing poems in ways that make our extended metaphors clear to audiences and easy to create.

     Our constellations will be made of stories and the people we hold close.

JAVON RUSTIN is a poet, performer, and programmer; a writer of stories, stanzas, and software. He started competing in poetry slams after graduating from North Carolina A&T in 2013. Since then Javon has been a National Poetry Slam finalist and Regional Slam champion. He ranked 5th in the 2023 National Blackberry Peach Poetry Slam and has worked as a teaching artist for youth in D.C. and Dallas Public School Districts.

     He has been published in six anthologies and his performances can be found on Button Poetry, Write About Now, and All Def Poetry. Javon continues to compete with his poetry but always returns to his love of writing and speaking on topics such as mental health, Black joy, and diversity.

After you register, you will receive an "admission ticket" with the zoom link information on it.

$35 or FREE to Members

Annual Membership $35

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Julia Guez
Mapping Our Poems

Saturday, December 14th 10:00a CST

In "The Archaeology of Knowledge," Michel Foucault writes, “The frontiers of a book are never clear-cut: beyond the title, the first lines, and the last full stop, beyond its internal configuration and its autonomous forms, it is caught up in a system of references to other books, other texts, other sentences: it is a node within a network.”

     In this generative writing class, we will begin with a word or phrase, line or lines from another book of poetry. After mapping out ideas, feelings, rhythms, syntaxes and words we associate with the line or lines we have brought in, we will start work on our own poems.

     (Throughout, we will engage in mini-breaks that can be incorporated into people’s everyday writing rituals in the future, to spur our creativity and collaboration as a workshop).

     The lines we begin with may be embedded in the poem we write, or turn out to serve as the seed, scaffold or prompt. The process of building a poem in conversation with other poets and poetry, is one that will hopefully prove to be a rewarding approach for you to take in your writing practice moving forward.

JULIA GUEZ is a writer and translator based in the city of Houston. "The Certain Body" (Four Way Books, 2022) is her second collection of poetry, written while she was recovering from COVID in the spring of 2020. Guez holds degrees from Rice and Columbia.

     To date, she has received a handful of recognitions for her work, including the Discovery / Boston Review Poetry Prize, a Fulbright Fellowship and a translation fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

     Her work has appeared in POETRY, The Guardian, BOMB, Kenyon Review and The Brooklyn Rail. For the last decade, she has worked with Teach For America, New York; Guez has taught creative writing at NYU and Rutgers and in workshops across the country.

     With her wife, Elizabeth, she has three sons.

After you register, you will receive an "admission ticket" with the zoom link information on it.

$35 or FREE to Members

Annual Membership $35

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Matt Mason
It's Time for the Lightening Round!

Saturday, July 20th 10:00a CST

Poetry is always about concision, about writing something small and quick with no excess of words or lines or ideas or lines like this way-too-long sentence. Let's see what we can do with shorter poems, fitting ideas into smaller spaces like snapshots or meditations. 

MATT MASON is the Nebraska State Poet and was Executive Director of the Nebraska Writers Collective from 2009-2022. Through the US State Department, he has run workshops in Botswana, Romania, Nepal, and Belarus.

     Mason is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Nebraska Arts Council.

     His work can be found in The New York Times, on NPR’s Morning Edition, in American Life in Poetry, and more. Mason's 4th book, At the Corner of Fantasy and Main: Disneyland, Midlife and Churros, was released by The Old Mill Press in 2022.

     Matt is based out of Omaha with his wife, the poet Sarah McKinstry-Brown, and daughters Sophia and Lucia. Find more on his website.

After you register, you will receive an "admission ticket" with the zoom link information on it.

$35 or FREE to Members

Annual Membership $35

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Lisa Fay Coutley
Infecting the Text:
Letting Trauma Take its
Necessary Shape

Saturday, October 26th 10:00a CST

By now you've heard writers—especially poets and lyric essayists—suggest that you should let your content inform your form as often as you've heard them say show don't tell, though as it is with most things, both are easier said than done. The former requires us to write from the body while letting go—a feat not easily mastered by any writer and complicated even more by difficult content. Often what we need most is permission and imaginative examples. This workshop will provide you with both. 

LISA FAY COUTLEY is the author of HOST (Wisconsin Poetry Series, 2024), tether (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), Errata (Southern Illinois University, 2015), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition, In the Carnival of Breathing (BLP, 2011), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition, Small Girl: Micromemoirs (Harbor Editions, 2024), and she is the editor of In the Tempered Dark: Contemporary Poets Transcending Elegy (BLP, 2023).

     Her poetry has been awarded an NEA Fellowship, an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize, chosen by Dana Levin, and the 2021 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, selected by Natalie Diaz. 

     Recent prose & poetry appears in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Barrelhouse, Brevity, North American Review, The Massachusetts Review, and on The Slowdown. She is an Associate Professor of Poetry & CNF in the Writer’s Workshop at UNO.

After you register, you will receive an "admission ticket" with the zoom link information on it.

$35 or FREE to Members

Annual Membership $35

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The Nebraska Poetry Society is a non-profit 501c3 organization.

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