Our SDOP Roster's Sampling of Writing-Generative Workshops
Click on a poet's name for bio and poem.
Beast Mode: Be a Beast
Jamele Adams, aka Harlym 1two5
By the time we are done, we would have moved the world a little bit and re-imagined the lines by which poetry is defined. Writing is the spark that ignites flames of thought; thus your poetry leaves a trail of blue flames-the core of any fire. A kaleidoscope of creativity unleashed and unveiled "write" from you. Let us begin.
Silly Image, Serious Thought: A Comedy Club in the Poetic Temple
Sometimes sitting on a rock in silence doesn't bring enlightenment—but throwing a mud pie does. Go figure! In this workshop you'll see how being silly and playful with images can lead you to deeply personal and universal discoveries that, in turn, complete a poem. With a clown car as your transport, who knows, maybe you'll see the universe or travel the highways of your conciousness? And maybe we'll join you too.
In this workshop, we’ll look at poems that deliberately use some visual aspect (layout, images, or video) to achieve their effect. We’ll look at more experimental examples of video poetry, concrete poetry, and visual poetry, as well as more conventional poems, with a focus on contemporary poetry. We’ll also have a chance to make some visual poetry of our own and to think about the way we can use the visual dimension of poetry to add to our work. No prior experience with poetry is required, but students who have written poetry previously are encouraged to bring a piece or two, and we may take a look at them, time allowing.
The Defining Moment
Every life is filled with “defining moments.” Your family moves to another town. You make the basketball team at school. Someone sets off a bomb at the Boston Marathon. One moment, the world is one way. The next moment, everything has changed. Defining moments can be very personal. They can affect your neighborhood, or the whole world. They can be terrible or wonderful. In our workshop, “The Defining Moment,” we explore how they can be powerful inspirations for the poet.
Poetry's Primordial Soup: Preparing Your Brain for Flashes of Inspiration
Inspiration and artistic vision are mysterious forces, but I believe a fertile mind can be cultivated so that when inspiration does strike, great poetry grows. Through brainstorming, discussion, and, of course, reading and writing poetry, we'll leave with practical techniques for enriching your poetry brain, so you're ready when inspiration strikes.
If Walls Could Talk: Perspective & Personification
Johnette Marie Ellis
Have you ever imagined the number of stories a room holds? Tables, rugs, radiators, windowsills—what would these things say to the world about what they have seen, or who they have become? In this workshop, we will give life to a space by reflecting on the textures, colors and sounds that a room holds. We will explore perspective and personification to create a poem that might change the way you look at a room you’ve always known. By paying keen attention to line breaks and the multiple meanings of the words we use, we might even end up telling a story about ourselves.
Jump Starting Your Writing and Telling Your Inner Voice to Shut Up
Do you believe in writers block? I don't, because even though you may have heard all about it, writers block only exists if you want it to. It's all about FEAR! Today's workshop will demonstrate how to work with prompts, either pictures or words, and what's the best way to workshop.
The Unlettered Muse: Poetry and the Creative Mind
This will be a lively writing workshop for those of you who want to write without all the rules you never wanted to learn anyway. By using both surrealist and structured techniques, like we will peep under the left and right sides of the brain and see what peeps back.
Make Them Laugh, Make Them Cry
One thing poetry does is allow us to tell our stories to others so they can understand how we feel. This workshop will investigate what makes both funny and serious poems feel both original and real.
Write Right Now
Gayle C. Heney
All have the ability to write poetry with a little help. I’ll use tangible and verbal poetry prompts to help transport each of us outside the classroom and into new spaces filled with possibility.
Here Be Dragons: Fantastic Poetry
Once upon a time, sea monsters and dragons marked strange territories on explorers’ maps. Dragons also wreak havoc in our oldest surviving English poem,Beowulf. These fantastic monsters, along with their many mythic cousins, represented then-unknown realities — and they appear still in our poetry today. “Unreal things,” wrote the poet Wallace Stevens, “have a reality of their own.” Poetry and myth are some of the first human tools for understanding ourselves and the world around us. In this workshop, we’ll read poems that use the fantastic and the unreal in a variety of ways to explore reality and the self, and we’ll write our own poetic flights of fantasy.
The Fearless Writing and Speaking Poetry Workshop
This is a fun, two part creative workshop. Poets will write several short poems that reflect his or her own interest(s). Poets will read at least one of their poems on the Open-Mic, and will be encouraged to show respect and support for other fellow poets.
“It is difficult/ to get the news from poems,” wrote poet William Carlos Williams, “Yet men die miserably every day/ for lack/ of what is found there.” In this workshop we’re going to make it easy for folks to get the news from poems—we’re going to write our own “poem-responses” to items featured in the global news! Not only will you learn about free-verse-poetry-writing-basics in this workshop (about how to write poems containing: potent language, vivid imagery and powerful lines), we’ll also discuss example poem-responses, various approaches to the poem-response, as well as the biggest news items of the day.
The Voice You Find Might Be Your Own
Seamus Heaney said "finding a voice means that you can get your own feeling into your own words and that your words have the feel of you about them." But it isn't always easy to pin down the distinct characteristics--the grammar and syntax and music--that add up to "you." Like saying your own name too many times, trying too hard can make your voice unrecognizable. We'll work on strengthening our own voices by writing persona poems where we give voice to others. We'll revisit fairytales, myths, news stories, giving speech to those who were silenced. And then we'll listen, because in the echoes of those lost voices we might find exactly the thing we've been trying to say.
The Next Iron Poet
We'll be reading poems that use interesting or unlikely vocabulary, and then creating original works of poetry using a set of ingredient/word boxes that include different parts of speech. The works will be read aloud and votes will be taken to determine the winner!
Poetry like Graffiti
The street artist known as Banksy says, “graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing.” Well, so is poetry. In this workshop, we’ll work on found poetry prompted by words, images, news, etc. Think of the blank page as a blank wall: we’re here to make something of it. In the end it doesn’t matter if the poem never exists beyond the classroom. It is something created out of thin air, and it is yours.
"No Ideas But in Things"
We are surrounded by “things” everyday: deep in our junk drawers, deep in our hearts. Bring something with you--the pencil you used when you aced that test, the spare earring, the baseball--and let’s weave the everyday with the magical. Let’s let these objects take “dominion everywhere,” and mingle with the stars. We’ll look at some poems that make this happen. And then we’ll write.
Speak Your Story!
Get real! Speak truth! Honest writing and performing can be important, moving and transformative for both the speaker and listener. Through various theatre and writing exercises, this workshop will get you to explore your inner self and speak your story as you wish to express it. P.S. Fun will be had!
What Can Poetry Do?
Does it soothe, excite, comfort, connect, and/or make you laugh? Does it express emotions? Does it teach, motivate, tell a story? Does it highlight beauty or contrasts between dark and light? Seek truth? Drape a mysterious veil? Rend the veils? Does it ask questions? Let’s make some poetry together and then sit back and feel what it does.
Storytelling: Taking Us There
In this workshop, students will take a look at storytelling, and using poetry as a means to do it. Through a series of short exercises culminating into a longer writing session, using a wealth of literary devices at their disposal to craft poems that tell stories, and draws readers and listeners in.
January Gill O'Neil
This workshop will focus on finding poems in unusual places: in newspapers, magazines, recipes, labels, music lyrics, movies, art, advertisements, even tweets—basically, everywhere. The source material is an all-access backstage pass into a world of our own making and unmaking; a door to enter and exit however we please. Much our time will be spent on writing exercises, and reading and writing based off the work of emerging poets—all to broaden our sense of how and where we might find poetry in the public domain. Once you're "in," where you (and your poems) go is up to you.
First Fights with Resistance
In this class, we will stir conversations about resistance and oppression. We will explore our personal challenges with ourselves and our surroundings. The goal of this workshop is to have our poets exploit their weakness and transform them into strengths. We will personify our obstacles and go toe-to-toe with them, in the ring of our paper, jab with our pens, hook with our voice. The poets will create empowering writing!
Steal This Workshop!
All writers are beggars and thieves, and in this workshop we will learn to beg and steal artfully. We will focus on identifying and harnessing our creative narrative impulse and how to shape the content so it fits the page as poetry. We will rummage though the lives around us and make them our own as we explore the relationship between speaker, tension, language, and line. We will look to each other and ourselves in order to better identify and harness our infinite access to the underexamined world. Remember, admitting we have access to a story worth transforming into poetry is the first step. Committing it to writing is the cure. So bring your pens, your secrets, and your sneakers, too. Be brash. Be bold. And bring no apologies!
Love is a Potato: The Art of Metaphor
If hate were a train, would you ride on it? If joy were a salad, would you serve it? In this workshop we will practice using metaphor to explore emotions.
Writing from Memory
Personal memory is like a trustfund of images, stories, and senses. And, in a way, it functions very much like a poem--its logic isn't chronological, its associations are often connected by seemingly unrelated thoughts or visuals, and it's always in a state of movement . In this workshop, we'll use prompts that allow us to travel into our memories to write unpredictable, spontaneous, and surprising poetry.
It's A Hard Knock Life "For Us": Writing From Personal Experience
Enzo Silon Surin
Ever wondered what Jay-Z meant by “it’s a hard knock life”? Sometimes the difficult moments we experience in life are often the hardest to write about. Ever wondered why? Ever wondered what would happen if these stories never get told? In this workshop, we will discuss clear, safe and effective ways to write poems from personal experience.
The Uncommon Cliche
Everyone wants to write about the big stuff. Love. Death. War. Racism. Zombies. One challenge for new writers (and, let's be honest, lots of old writers) is how to tackle topics that have been done a billion times before. This workshop focuses on finding techniques to approach these themes in fresh, unique, and powerful ways.