9:00 – 10:30
The Joy of Light Verse
Poetry doesn’t have to be filled with angst or sorrow or depth. From Dorothy Parker to Ogden Nash to contemporary poets like Marilyn Taylor and Melissa Balmain, poets have enjoyed writing light verse purely for the fun of it. (Satire and snark are also valid reasons!) We’ll look at examples of poetry that’s full of wordplay and playful words, check out silly forms like the limerick and paradelle, and spend time writing our own lighthearted poetry. Participants will be encouraged to share their work. Poets at all experience levels (and yes, even prose writers) are welcome to join the fun.
PAT VALDATA is a poet and novelist. Her poetry book about women aviation pioneers, Where No Man Can Touch, won the 2016 Donald Justice Poetry Prize. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary magazines including Delmarva Review, Ecotone, Ekphrastic Review, Italian Americana, Little Patuxent Review, North American Review, Passager, The Raintown Review, String Poet, and Valparaiso Poetry Review, as well as several anthologies. Her third novel, Eve’s Daughters (Moonshine Cove, 2020), won first prize in the Novel category from the Delaware Press Association and received an Honorable Mention from the National Federation of Press Women. www.patvaldata.com
SPECIAL SESSION: H-132
9:00 – 10:30
Poetry Critique Workshop (limited to 8 participants)
In this workshop we’ll explore the many ways that poets can
tell stories, make music, and create meaning. Participants can expect detailed
line-level feedback on their work; from time to time the poems under discussion
will also serve as jumping-off points for more general conversations about
poetic technique. Throughout the session the instructor will provide
participants with useful examples drawn from the work of both contemporary and
This special session is capped at eight participants and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Those wishing to participate should first register for the conference, and then check their conference confirmation for a link to sign up. This workshop will require a poem to be sent to the instructor ahead of time. Further details will be emailed to participants. Participants may only sign up for one special session. Once the session is full, those wishing to participate will be placed on a waiting list.
Canadian-American poet JAMES ARTHUR is the author of The Suicide’s Son (Véhicule Press 2019) and Charms Against Lightning (Copper Canyon Press, 2012.) His poems have also appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Review of Books, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, and The London Review of Books. He has received the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Hodder Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship, a Discovery/The Nation Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship to Northern Ireland, and a Visiting Fellowship at Exeter College, Oxford. Arthur lives in Baltimore where he teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.
10:45 – 12:15
On Reflection: Shine A Fresh Light on Revision
Ever have the burning need to write a poem, and then that poem becomes ornery and refuses to move along? In this workshop we’ll turn stubborn poems upside down and see what shakes out of their pockets. The “reflection” idea comes from my late friend Herb Perkins-Frederick. A reflection we see in our rearview mirror is backwards, but the perspective still contains truth. Sometimes this approach yields a better poem, a deeper understanding, or valuable parts to keep in stock. We’ll briefly discuss Herb’s method, then get down to work on our poems. Please bring a poem that just won’t ignite.
JANE EDNA MOHLER recently served as the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Poet Laureate. Her book of poems is Broken Umbrellas, (Kelsay 2019.) Her poems appear in Gargoyle, The Skinny Poetry Journal, Boston Globe, Schuylkill Valley Journal, U.S.1 Worksheets, River Heron Review, and Bay to Ocean Anthology. She won the 2016 Main Street Voices competition, was twice a Pushcart Prize nominee, and Robert Fraser Open finalist. Jane presented at two previous Bay to Ocean conferences. Previously Jane taught English over two summers at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in China. For decades she was a counselor in schools, agencies, and an advocate for homeless education.
1:45 – 3:15
True Confessions: How to Write Memoir Poetry
Shed light on life by writing verses that capture your own life experiences or those of family members or people in history. Join published historian and poet, Christopher T. George, as he uncovers what truly makes people “tick.” The workshop will discuss examples and methods of writing memoir poetry. Class discussion will center around participants’ ideas for poems and include a writing period with appropriate prompts followed by additional discussion and Q&A.
CHRISTOPHER T. GEORGE was born in Liverpool, England in 1948 in the same hospital where John Lennon of the Beatles was born. His self-published autobiographical poem “Toxteth” told the story of his immigration to the U.S. age 7 and going back to attend school in Liverpool in the Sixties. He has published poetry and essays for over 50 years as well as several history books, including “Terror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay” (Shippensburg, PA: White Mane, 2000) and appeared as a “talking head” on the History Channel and in Maryland Public Television’s Francis Scott Key docudrama “FSK.” He lives in Newark, Delaware with his wife Donna and sister-in-law Lisa, two cats, and a Mini-Pinscher.
3:30 – 5:00
“Light” — the Utility Word
“Light” is a Swiss Army knife word, a mini tool kit. It is a noun, a verb and an adjective with multiple meanings in each part of speech. It’s a word that rhymes with a myriad of other words and has connotations galore. We’ll explore how great poets like Dickinson, Levertov, Tennyson and Thomas have used the word thematically and metaphorically; have played with it and built around it; and consider other “multi-purpose” words that are useful tools in figurative language, i.e., the fabric of poetry. Attendees will be offered in-workshop writing exercises that involve using several utensils from the tool kit, and have a chance to share their drafts aloud.
DAVID P. KOZINSKI was a finalist for the Inlandia (California) Institute’s 2020 Hillary Gravendyke Prize for a book-length poetry manuscript, which is scheduled to be published by Kelsay books in 2022. Publications include Tripping Over Memorial Day (Kelsay Books) and Loopholes (Broadkill Press) which won the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize. Kozinski was Expressive Path’s 2018 Mentor of the Year. He serves on the boards of the Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center and the Eastern Shore Writers Association, and on the editorial board of Philadelphia Stories magazine. He is Rockwood Park & Museum’s resident poet and Art Editor of the Schuylkill Valley Journal.