Will you nurture your writing with an online class?
Whether you’re a new writer or advanced, sometimes the structure of a class can inspire and support you. With feedback that focuses on what’s working well in a poem or piece of creative nonfiction, flexible themes, and all-important prompts and deadlines, my classes are designed to help you produce new work.
Current/Upcoming Online Classes
Informal Structures Wednesdays 7-9pm Eastern September 7-28, 2022
*Synchronous Zoom workshop!*
Good writers steal—not ideas or language, but strategies. I’ll provide examples where the poets and writers used some interesting aspect of structure—a particular type of repetition, for example, or a scaffolding for organization—and pick out writerly strategies that you might try in your own poem or flash creative nonfiction piece. Then we’ll workshop your writing face-to-face, in a weekly Zoom meeting.
LOGISTICS: I’ll email you a sample piece and optional prompt one week before each workshop session. Each piece will be workshopped for approximately 20 minutes, which includes time spent reading the poem/flash essay aloud, so please understand that long pieces will cut into discussion time. Everyone will send their pieces to the class through Zoom chat when the class begins, so we can all have the relevant piece open on our computers during discussion. Please note that I have my own specific rules for workshopping, which I have found over years of teaching serve to support a positive workshop experience. Language matters: we will discuss and respond to participant poems and essays, not “critique” them. Workshop will include praise, interpretation, questions, and suggestions. Comments will be as specific as possible, and discussion will include why and how writerly choices affect the reader. More information on workshop format will be provided with the first writing prompt.
Sign up today by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I’m working to get a PayPal button for you to click on for sign-up, but tech support (my husband) is unavailable until later.
Class is limited to FIVE students, so sign up ASAP!
price: $149 Please register by Wednesday, August 31, 2022 so you can get the prompt a week before the first session.
Past Online Classes
Ok, but when, why, and how did it begin? The chronic illness, the magnolia tree in the back yard, the 35-year-friendship, the story of you as a writer–these things started from something, originated and grew from there. Can you get back to those origins, track them down, figure them out, or even speculate?
Course includes sample poems & essays, weekly prompts, and feedback from me and classmates. Participants may submit a poem or a short creative nonfiction essay for any assignment.
What do we feel we need to be saved from? Can the world be saved? Can this terrible dinner (like one I tried to make recently) be saved? How do we save the ones we love, and how do we deal with the knowledge that we can’t save them? Would anyone save us, if we were drowning? Do we deserve to be saved? This is not a religion-connected course, though if you wish to write about the religious idea of “being saved,” you certainly can.
Sleeping and Waking
What does it mean to be asleep, to be awake? Our lives are punctuated by these states, not just physical but metaphorical. Perhaps our ambition sleeps for a time, but wakes when we start a new project. Perhaps our dreams feel more “awake” than the routine of our waking lives. What do you want to wake up to? What do you do in the night when you wake and cannot fall back to sleep?
Planets, suns, solar systems, galaxies, the universe…space travel, real and imagined…the space between atoms, trees, people… We’ll look at poems and short cnf pieces that explore these and other space-related topics.
No, I’m not trying to be Anne Sexton. And I didn’t ever play with cars that turned into robots. But I do think that writing itself is always about transformation: the creative nonfiction writer takes the random, chaotic elements of experience and makes sense of it; the poet makes sure we see that one thing compared to another thing changes both of those things. So for this class, I’ll find some poems and essays that talk about people transforming into animals and other transformations I can think of.
Is time linear? Cyclical? Both? What is on time, enough time, the right time? Does time pass differently for us at different ages? What about scientific theories of time? We’ll think and write about these issues and more.
In this class, you don’t have to make excuses for writing about joy, and fun, and happiness, and play. Those will be your assignments. Yes, of course, poems and essays that consider light always have their shadows, implied or overt. But I’m hoping your writing in this course will name joy, define play, capture moments of happiness, give itself over to the examination of transcendence.
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
One of the things art can do is make some sense of the contradictions and paradoxes of our lives and selves. Metaphor asks us to compare two different things and gain insight through that act; exposition asks us to dig into the how and whyof seemingly disparate ideas. Sometimes an essay can reconcile seemingly opposing ideas; sometimes a poem can merely lay out the paradox so we may see it more clearly. But exploring contradictions can lead towards insight into ourselves and the world.
Location, Location, Location
Exploring place in our poems and essays can lead to insights about ourselves and a more precise understanding of the world we live in. What characterizes the places we come from? The places we love? The places we choose to visit on vacation? How does place shape our behavior, family, community, politics? Where would we live if given a choice of anywhere in the world, and why? We’ll look at samples of other poets and creative nonfiction writers exploring these issues in their work. You’ll write four pieces (one per week) and get feedback from me and fellow participants. You may submit poetry, creative nonfiction, or both.
We grapple with our identity all our lives, and that identity changes as we age and grow. Some ways we identify ourselves: gender, physical traits, place, family of origin, job. How the various elements of our identity work together, wax and wane, is rich fodder for art. We’ll look at samples of other poets and creative nonfiction writers exploring these issues in their work.
The Historical Moment
The Historical Moment—writing when the world is changing. Do we directly address the historical moment—in this case, the pandemic? Do we assume readers will know the historical context of our work? Are contemporary readers sick of news about the pandemic, and therefore prefer to read about something—anything—else? How do we decide what’s “topical/in the moment” and what might work just as well at some other time? Basically, in this class you can write about the pandemic directly, merely refer to it, or not refer to it at all. The point is: this is the time in which we find ourselves, and it’s part of us now. I’ll provide writing examples set during major historical events, and some prompts that you may use or ignore. Bring your dread, fear, anger, boredom, new perspectives—whatever. We won’t judge you, but will provide specific feedback, community, and support.
The inside of houses, barns, cars, boxes, engines, plants, hearts, bodies, minds—how can we explore these places our writing? We often turn to the outside for imagery, such as the everyday things we see out our windows, but what about the rich imagery of the inside of a cell? The peculiar experience of traveling inside an airplane? The metaphorical possibilities of a kitchen? We inhabit interior spaces for more hours of most days than we inhabit exterior spaces. Let’s figure out ways to mine these seemingly overly-familiar scenes for material. Participants can submit poems or cnf. There will be four writing prompts, with reading examples, and all will be expected to write responses to each other’s work.
Writing What’s Good For You
In this class we’ll examine four elements connected to self-care as they are addressed in poems and essays, and use those elements as a springboard for writing assignments. You may write poems or creative nonfiction pieces, but most of the examples will be poems. This is a literary class; in responding to your work I’ll look at craft issues such as tone, pacing, metaphor, fresh language, and theme. You’ll also read and write responses to your classmates’ work.
Mixing narratives in a short piece–a poem or flash essay (750 words max)–can be a great strategy for making meaning out of what seems to be mere anecdote, or implying the complexities of a much larger narrative. In this four-week class, we’ll examine the ways other writers have taken on the narrative braid in poetry and flash cnf. Students will share their work every week and receive feedback from the instructor and each other. This is a dual genre course; writers may submit either a poem or a flash essay for each assignment.
End with a Bang!
We’ll examine poems with strong and interesting endings and discuss why they work and how the poets got there. Exercises that may lead to surprising but satisfying endings will be provided, and students will have their own poems critiqued with a focus on endings.
Embrace Your Inner Weird
Believe it or not, readers relate to the specific more than to the general. The name of your first guinea pig, the thing you always do when you get a scab, what you think about when you’re in church—poetry lives in these details. So write the poems only you can write!
This poetry class will include short videos wherein I discuss published poems, poetry exercises, and four poems to be workshopped by classmates and to receive detailed feedback from me. Open to all experience levels. Classes will be run on Wet Ink, a platform designed specifically for writing courses.
Looking for individual mentoring instead of or in addition to a class? Check out my editing services.
NOTE: I have 20+ years experience teaching creative writing (poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction) at the college and university level, and over 10 years as co-founder and editor of a literary magazine and chapbook press. I focus on helping writers accomplish what they want to do, rather than dictating a particular aesthetic or approach. This blog post of mine might help explain my philosophy. Students have had poems and essays they produced in my online classes published in Brevity, The Rupture, Still: The Journal, Terrain, and more.
“Katie was my first poetry teacher and I can’t believe my good fortune to have found myself in her class. As an instructor and writer, she is as gentle as she is scrupulous, as funny as she is startling, as charming as she is resolved. Hers is a voice and a mind and a heart that many need to hear, especially young writers. My writing would not be as honest or satisfied if it were not for her guidance. Whenever I read something I’d call a ‘bad poem,’ I wonder what Katie would do to fix it. Whenever I read something I’ve written, I wonder what Katie would say to me about the language, the tone, the imagery, the point. ”
—Tory, University of South Florida class of 2017
“My first experience in a workshop setting was in Katie’s poetry class at USF. It was also my first experience with writing poetry. Before taking that class, I was terrified about writing poetry, and even more so about workshop, but Katie’s kind nature eased my fears. Over the course of the semester, I learned how to read, critique, write, and love poetry. To this day, I still use the core concepts I learned in her class. If it hadn’t been for Katie, I never would have known that I could write successful poetry.” —Sherri Pooley, University of South Florida class of 2016
“I took Katie’s class at the University of South Florida in 2011. Katie’s passion for the art form resonates in her lectures and workshops. She provides insightful feedback in a positive manner that is easy to digest for even artists as sensitive as myself. On more than one occasion, I was able to improve a poem by way of a simple revision, addition of an enjambed line, or reconsideration of form as suggested by Katie. If poetry is a journey, Katie is a map keeper with intuitive knowledge of where the traveler is trying to go and how to get there on a single tank of gas.” —Tia
“I didn’t expect that poetry would ever be the key to figuring myself out in college. Katie made that happen. She recognized and encouraged me in her soft and kind way. Everything about her is soft, but vibrant and completely sincere: her compliments, criticisms, suggestions, even simple conversation. I learned to look at my life more poetically because of her. I’m a lot happier in my outlook because of her poetry and her guidance. I don’t work in the writing industry, but I would never ever change my degree because of what I learned from Katie.” —Victoria Kucinskas, USF class of 2013, Creative Writing