Poetry Workshops for The Writer’s Center (all on ZOOM)

Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, 1-4 p.m.: “Poetry as Autobiography”

The autobiographical impulse has always been a strong one in American poetry, but it wasn’t until the so-called “confessional” poets began writing in the late 1950s and 60s that the poet’s life became a widely accepted source of inspiration. In this course we will discuss some of the better-known Confessional poets—Lowell, Snodgrass, Sexton, and Plath—and look at what makes their work so different from that of their predecessors.  We will also examine the work of contemporary American women poets—Sharon Olds, Jane Kenyon, and Marie Howe—to see how they have been influenced by confessionalism and how their work transcends the confessional impulse. 

Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, 1-4 p.m.: Turning Points: The Volta in Poetry

Although we associate the term volta with the traditional sonnet form, it has been used with great success by many contemporary poets. Marking a shift in the poem’s tone, subject or logic, the volta has been compared to a change of key in music. In this workshop, we will explore how turning your attention in a new direction can open up a poem, allowing it to leap to another level of significance or meaning.

Sunday, March 19, 2023, 1-4 p.m.: “All About Tone”

Robert Frost said, “It’s tone I’m in love with; that’s what poetry is, tone.” The ability to control tone in a poem is what makes the poet credible and his or her intention clear. But tone has not always been easy to define, let alone control. In this workshop we will attempt to distinguish tone from voice, style, and mood. We will explore what contributes to a poem’s tone and how these elements can be used to convey attitude and emotion.

For more information, visit or call 301-654-8664