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Online Poetry Workshop with Caleb Curtiss: Writing the Family


  • 8-week online workshop focusing on crafting poems that engage the subject of family

  • Starts February 10, 2019

  • Registration $250

  • Limited to 12 participants

  • Each participant will workshop 1 poem per week

What’s all this about?

In this course, we will focus on crafting poems that engage that oh-so delicate subject of family. There are few things so difficult to write about as family, in part because doing so challenges us to reckon with our memories, our doubts, our regrets, and our joy—but in each of these challenges is a point of entry that we as poets can use to craft writing that reflects our own unique experiences. Families are distinctive and complex systems, the poetry they inspire should be the same. Throughout this eight-week course, we will support one another as we explore the poetics of family, drawing inspiration from a diverse selection of poets who have written about family in their own work. We will also discuss technical approaches to dealing with the nuances and difficulties associated with writing about those to whom we are most intimately connected.

How will our workshop work?

At the beginning of each week, I will provide two to three writing prompts along with examples of a contemporary poetic work that enact some facet of those prompts. During the week, the message board will be open so that participants can post thoughts, questions, or reflections as they work. Then, at the end of the week, participants will be placed in a small groups where each member will be encouraged to read and respond to each other’s poem. I will also provide individual feedback for each poem while facilitating a broader, process-oriented conversation about the poetics of family, revision, and publication. At the end of this eight week course you will have a suite of poems that have been thoroughly read and encouraged by a supportive group of fellow writers.

What can I expect out of the user experience in this workshop?

The workshops are run using the Canvas learning management system, a user-friendly, cloud-based education forum, which means, this is a virtual space. You can check in and out according to what works for your schedule within the parameters of the course.

Who Is Caleb Curtiss?


Caleb Curtiss is the author of the chapbook, A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us (Black Lawrence Press), which Roxane Gay called “an elegant chronicle of grief, of the sprawling bonds between brothers and sisters, of bodies in this world, of the power of language when so artfully arranged.” He was a finalist for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and has published his poems, essays, and criticism in numerous literary journals such as New England Review, TriQuarterly, International Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, The Literary Review, Passages North, The Southern Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, DIAGRAM, Green Mountains Review, and elsewhere. In recent years he has worked as a high school English teacher and Instructional Coach, served as founding director of the Pygmalion Literary Festival, and edited poetry for Hobart. An alumni of the University of Illinois’ Creative Writing Program, he is currently studying poetry at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Learn About My Book, A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us

Winner of the Fall 2013 Black River Chapbook Competition

Winner of the Fall 2013 Black River Chapbook Competition

A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us is an elegant chronicle of grief, of the sprawling bonds between brothers and sisters, of bodies in this world, of the power of language when so artfully arranged. Caleb Curtiss is a poet among poets and in this beautiful and assured collection, he makes himself heard and how.

—Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State & Bad Feminist

Caleb Curtiss’ A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us speaks to us from the “present tense of … absence,” an unyielding landscape in which these radiant poems are a ceaseless controlled burn. Their narrative inquiry—“Like the sea in a storm, I did not know / how I was like a storm”— has been primed in a liminal field between grief and selfless intellect. Here is the lyric and evocative testimony of a powerful consciousness at the beginning of a remarkable career.

—Renée Ashley, author of The View from the Body & Because I Am the Shore I Want to be the Sea

"The language is plain and effective in resisting the urge to elevate (and overdo) a grief that seems akin to '. . . the chassis / of an overturned car / steadying itself beside a corn field / a stop sign.' Powerful insights are rooted throughout, often bolstered by Curtiss’s technical skill."

—Rain Taxi Review

"I suspect our fate as human beings is to experience both grief and wonder concurrently — and to be both astonished and subdued by it. Despite the difficult subject matter of Curtiss’ collection, this is what we find within A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us."

—The Literary Review

Online Reviews of A Taxonomy


The Literary Review:

Rain Taxi:

Columbia Poetry Review

Scout Poetry

Writing available on the Internet

“Aubade”: The Collagist:

3 Poems: Thrush Poetry Journal:

2 Poems: Spork:

“Ronnie’s Hallucinations” TriQuarterly:

Short Essay: Hayden’s Ferry Review

“Kool-Aid Man”: Green Mountains Review

Two Poems: Hobart:

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