Sunday, October 2, 12-6:30pm EDT

Program Cost:



As with our other online programs, the live session will also be recorded, so you can participate live AND/OR by watching the recording.

The info to access the recording will be shared after you register. The recording will be available for 6 months.

About The Program

A poem begins with the writer and ends with the reader. A poem must travel beyond the life of the poet in order to give the reader a meaningful experience. Of her own work, bestselling writer, beloved poet, and educator Ellen Bass says: “When I write, first I am talking to myself. I’m grappling with something, trying to understand or discover something, trying to find a way to hold my experience within the human experience. And then I hope that I’m talking to the reader, meeting them across time and distance in a way that matters in their life.”

For this six and a half hour online masterclass, Ellen has chosen exemplary poems to explore with you 13 specific strategies to transform the events of your life into poetry. Together, you will consider particular elements of the craft that can help you to open up your personal narrative and connect it to the larger human experience. As you work this way, not only will you be transformed—enlarged and enriched—but you make it possible for the reader to be transformed. We’ll use these practices to generate new poems and also in revision (if you want, you could bring a poem you’d like to revise). Expect to leave with poems that are more authentic, courageous, and consciously crafted than you’ve written before.

The schedule for the day will go like this: Ellen will begin with an hour and a half talk about these strategies and we’ll discuss poems which illustrate them. That will be followed by two hours during which you have time to write a draft of a poem utilizing one or more of these strategies. Then we’ll take a short stretch break or time for you to get a snack. Next, when we come back together, you’ll have the opportunity to share your poems in small groups. And the last hour will be a general discussion and time for any questions.

This program is open to poets of all levels of experience.

Meet the Presenter

Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Her most recent book of poetry, Indigo, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2020. Previous books include Like a Beggar, a finalist for The Paterson Poetry Prize, The Publishers Triangle Award, The Milt Kessler Poetry Award, The Lambda Literary Award, and the Northern California Book Award; The Human Line; and Mules of Love, which won The Lambda Literary Award. Bass has also written works of nonfiction, including, with Laura Davis, The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, which has sold over a million copies and has been translated into twelve languages. The New Yorker has published ten of Bass’ poems throughout the years, and two have been chosen for The New Yorker podcast. In 2021, Bass was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. She teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University and lives in Santa Cruz, California.