Sundance Creativity -- Poetry Workshops


The internet has created a forum in which writers from around the globe can meet, learn about and discuss their craft. For individuals who are unable to find a group of like-minded poets in their community, working with others online in a workshop structure can be just as enriching as a face-to-face gathering.

The basic workshop model involves the art and skill of constructive criticism. Group members read -- or post -- their work, and the group discusses its merits and weaknesses. The goal is to give the writer an audience with the understanding and knowledge necessary to give quality feedback, which enables the poet to focus, sharpen and clarify his or her skills. The process also helps the ones who are on the giving end of the critique to better appreciate the qualities of perception, to look further than the surface and explore motivation, emotion and outcome of each written piece.

On the internet, the term "workshop" is applied rather loosely. Some may not be focused strictly on group critique. An instructor may lead the group in an organized fashion through writing assignments, with critique coming only from the instructor. Others may concentrate on teaching the use of meter, rhyme and form, or other specific skills.

Rather than trying to make distinctions between the structure or objectives of one workshop and another, this index will list them according to expense: free workshops and fee-based.

Some things to keep in mind as you choose a poetry workshop based on the internet:

  1. Check the background of the person or organization offering the workshop. What are their qualifications? Is the instructor or leader a published writer, lecturer or educator, and if so, where? Is the group behind the event involved in publishing poetry, online or otherwise?
  2. Does the workshop have a syllabus? Are there writing exercises you are expected to complete by a certain date and discuss during each session? Are there any required books or texts?
  3. What is the cost? Even if the workshop is free, will what you get out of it be worth the time and effort you invest?
  4. What are the technical issues of how the workshop operates? Is it via a chat room, bulletin board, or email? Are advanced features such as audio or video involved? Verify system requirements to ensure you and your computer can keep up.


The Original Albany Poetry Workshop
"The eight-week class includes reading and writing assignments, a live discussion board, and weekly online live critiques of the poems you have written." Fee: $150

AlienFlower: Workshops with Tom Williams
Offering four workshops online: Modern Lyric & Narrative Poetry, Writing for Competitions, Better Love Poems, and Poetry at Square One (for beginners). Fee: $40 per week.
See also: AlienFlower home page

Writers' Village University
Access to this site is strictly limited to members; the link above is the only page open to non-members. A one-year membership is $59, and grants you the freedom to take as many courses as you like. They indicate over 75 courses are available; at least five are poetry-related.

Writers on the Net
Offering several different poetry classes: Introduction to Poetry, Poetry and the Sacred, Publishing Prose and Poetry in the Small Press. Eight-week classes are $190; ten-week classes are $240.

Gotham Writers' Workshop
Offers three poetry courses, only one is taught online currently. "The course presents the fundamentals of poetry writing - voice, sound and rhythm, structure and syntax, imagery, and figurative language. Emphasis is placed on the presentation and revision of poems. There are also exercises and outside reading assignments which encourage continued experimentation and growth." $395 + $20 registration fee.

Poets & Writers Magazine Online Seminars
Online Poems into Print: "Discover the publications and resources that will help you make your way as a published poet. You’ll learn how to find out exactly what an editor is looking for, using three literary journals and a book publisher as examples. We’ll also discuss topics like rights, simultaneous submissions, query letters, and cover letters." $45
Pitching Your Poetry Manuscript: "This special section on pitching your manuscript will include discussion on the craft of the pitch, discussion about the book market, and an evaluation of your pitch for a completed manscript." $55

Lessons in Writing the Poem
In 20 lessons, learn at your own pace the essentials every poet needs to know, with exercises to develop and practise your craft. (The course includes the book A Magical Clockwork: The Art of Writing the Poem which can also be purchased on its own for $16.95 plus $3.00 shipping, total $19.95.)


Kalliope Online Poetry Workshop
"Kalliope is a poetry workshop based on exercises illustrating a variety of basic poetic theory and technique. Members of the workshop learn by critiquing each others exercises, as well as by writing and being critiqued. The workshop is 'a poetry course with lab'."

Zeugma Poetry Workshop
"We're committed to providing a stimulating, nurturing environment where serious poets can submit work for comment and critique the work of others via e-mail...What do we mean by "serious"? At the risk of sounding sophistic, we seek those whose approach to writing poetry is meticulous and craftsmanlike."


Bulletin Boards
Bulletin board scripts are freely available on the internet, so any webmaster can build one and invite poets to post their work for "critique". There are only a few such boards run by educators, publishers or other literary organizations; on most, there are no moderators or experts to give trustworthy feedback. If you are looking only for positive reinforcement, a bulletin board at Peggy's World of Poetry would be the place to go; but if you really want honest, intelligent critique, look for one run by a publisher or organization.
As you can see from our list of poetry newsgroups, there are plenty of outlets for poetic expression on Usenet. Some may be populated by mature, educated writers who enjoy giving and receiving insightful critiques, while others are the same group of cheerful and usually inexperienced poets who hang out on the bulletin boards. On Usenet, you should always read several days' worth of posts before you begin your own thread, for several reasons: first, to determine if the group is designed for feedback or if it is just a poetry appreciation society; second, to locate any posts regarding the group's charter or FAQs; third, to get a feel for the general tone of the group's regular participants.

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This page last updated November 24, 2004

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