Classes & Workshops

[In the behavior of termites] “it is the product of work itself that provides both the stimulus and instructions for further work.”

—Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell

Lisa teaches classes and workshops at Literary Arts in Portland, OR and Hugo House in Seattle, WA, and at writing conferences and retreats. At UC Berkeley Extension, Lisa taught Modern and Contemporary Women Poets, and led the Poetry Generation Intensive workshop. She also works one on one with individual poets.


Advanced Workshop

The class: A small, individually focused every-other-week poetry workshop in Portland, OR for a maximum of eight intermediate to advanced students. It’s designed to give writers a chance to meet, connect, and give and get feedback in a supportive, guided environment. There will be snacks.

What I can offer you: Personalized feedback suited to each poet’s needs. Reading recommendations. Occasional in-class writing exercises. An understanding of what it’s like to make things and how writers tend to get stuck (and unstuck). A community of others committed to doing this strange and wonderful thing. An introduction to the craft aspects of contemporary poetry. A focus on critique beyond like/dislike, as we work to understand what each poem wants to become, then explore ways to help it get there.

The workshop’s patron saints: Aunt Emily and Uncle Walt.

A few more poets whose work has informed my writing and teaching: W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, W.S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich, Kay Ryan, (early) Louise Glück, (early) Jorie Graham, John Berryman, Robert Hass, Gregory Orr, Anne Carson, Jane Hirshfield, Alice Fulton, Forrest Hamer, Campbell McGrath, Linda Gregerson, Albert Goldbarth, Jane Mead, Mark Doty, Dean Young, Marianne Boruch, Charles Wright, Brian Teare, Rachel Zucker, Bob Hicok…

The nuts and bolts: The workshop meets every other Monday from 7-9:30 PM in SW Portland, with breaks for major holidays. Cost is $450 for each set of eight classes. If you miss a class, you can email me a poem for critique any time during the following week.


Past Classes & Workshops

Ordering Poems for Submission and Publishing

CLASS FULLContact Lisa to hear about upcoming classes
Saturday August 3, 2019
10:00 AM to 3:00 PM (includes lunch break)
Hugo House, Seattle

Bring ten pages of your poems. We’ll discuss and practice techniques for ordering manuscripts for submission to journals, contests, and chapbook/book publishing. We’ll look at what the arc of a series or book can tell us about individual poems, and explore techniques for writing with a series or larger project in mind. After a break, we’ll discuss best practices for journal submission, submission tracking, and how to select the right markets for your work. You’ll then put together a packet of five poems to submit to the journal of your choice.

To Invent What We Desire: Strategies and Meditations for Getting Unstuck

Sunday August 4, 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Capitol Hill, Seattle (address provided on signup)
$80

It’s easy to become separated from our writing, and sometimes we don’t know how to return from that stuck place. This course explores experiences of being lost—and ways of getting found. We’ll start with nine strategies drawn from Adrienne Rich’s essay “To invent what we desire” (in What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics), then go deeper, using guided meditation and self-hypnosis to encounter and soften our resistance and reconnect with the artist within us. We’ll finish up with discussion and plans for diving back into the heart of our work.

Spring 2019: Finding Your North Star

Saturday April 28, 2019
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 PM
Literary Arts, Portland

This workshop will give you a chance to view your writing in the context of your own personal aesthetic(s) and obsessions. We’ll practice multiple ways of using these factors to inspire new directions, generate new work, and offer more productive and authentic feedback.

Spring 2019: Imitation and Inspiration

Saturday April 13, 9:00 AM to Noon
Sunday April 14 from 10 AM to 1:00 PM
Literary Arts, Portland

A workshop on using books you love to spur new paths in your own work. Bring in one or more pieces of writing that have been touchstones for you. Participants will explore what it is about that work that compels you, then you’ll use aspects of it in exercises designed to generate new writing in response. We’ll shamelessly steal voice, style, subject matter, then put it in a blender and press Purée. Students will come away with a clearer view of their own obsessions plus new drafts that help you stretch your voice and style.

To Invent What We Desire: New Strategies for Getting Unstuck

Saturday, November 10, 2018
3:30 to 5:30 PM
Literary Arts, Portland
Northwest Film Center (934 SW Salmon St, Portland, OR 97205)
$75.00 (tuition includes admission to the Portland Book Festival)

It’s easy to become separated from our writing, and sometimes we don’t know how to return from that stuck place. This course explores experiences of being lost—and ways of getting found. We’ll start with nine strategies drawn from Adrienne Rich’s essay “To invent what we desire” (in What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics), then go deeper, using guided meditation and self-hypnosis to encounter and soften our resistance and reconnect with the artist within us. We’ll finish up with discussion and plans for diving back into the heart of our work.


Contact Lisa to book a workshop for your organization, or to discuss individual mentoring and editing.