5 Upcoming Online Poetry Workshops to Add to Your Calendar

Writers often describe their art form as a solitary act. Poetry demands time spent alone to contemplate line breaks, word choice, form, and dozens of other details. Add the coronavirus outbreak to the mix, and poets may be feeling even more isolated—readings, slams, and other events have faced cancelation. However, online workshops stand out as an innovative and accessible way to engage with the poetry community.


Online writing classes grant participants versatility and inspiration. Writers work with talented peers and educators from across the world, find options that work for their schedule, and get help reaching their goals. Whether you’re seeking a do-it-yourself MFA program alternative, assistance with polishing your poems for publication, or simply renewed inspiration, one of these workshops just might deliver. All you need is internet access, a Zoom account, and dedication.


1. Gotham Writers Poetry Writing Workshop

Dates: Begins Nov. 10; students must complete weekly assignments on their own schedule.

Cost: $409


Founded in 1993, this historic New York writing collective has opened its online offerings to poets everywhere. In the 10-week level one poetry writing workshop, now open for enrollment, students will work with award-winning poet Matthew Lippman, the author of six chapbooks and poems published in Tin House and American Poetry. The course instructs students in crafting concise poetry, writing in both classic and modern forms, and marketing their work.


2. The Loft’s “After Inspiration: Revising, Ordering, and Submitting Poems” Workshop

Dates: Tuesdays, Nov. 10–Dec. 8, 6 p.m.–8 p.m. CDT

Cost: $140


The Loft, an iconic Minneapolis institution, hosts workshops for every stage of the writing process. This 4-week intensive course proves especially helpful for poets wanting to push past the intimidation of revision, submissions, and publishing. Lisa Higgs, a prize-winning author of three chapbooks, will share her expertise. Exercises will involve analyzing poems by Tracy K. Smith, Jenny Chang, and other contemporary influences. By considering how these works would function from different viewpoints or how they could be ordered in a collection, students will adapt these lessons to their own work. Participants must start the class with 10 working poems that they are willing to revise. As they improve and expand these drafts, Higgs will provide suggestions for magazine and contest submissions. 


3. The Speakeasy Project’s Growth Workshop

Dates: Select evenings throughout January (exact schedule depends on which poetry mentors participants select).

Cost: $295. 60% of students receive some form of financial aid. Installment plans are also available. 


This popular and powerful literary organization—which represents emerging poets like torrin a. greathouse and Luther Hughes—strives to “bring artistic spaces directly to the student at home.” As part of the January growth workshop, which is currently accepting applications, students receive three hours of weekly discussion and instruction, led by talented mentors Rosebud Ben-Oni, Angel Nafis, Julian Randall, and George Abraham. The course also includes suggested writing prompts and invigorating readings. Students can expect to produce eight poems and obtain detailed feedback.


4. Catapult’s “Catching Feelings/Evoking Emotions” Workshop

Dates: Wednesdays, Jan. 20–Feb. 24, 7:30–9:30 p.m. ET

Cost: $395

Poetry centers around complex and unforgettable emotions. But how do poets channel these feelings in their writing process, as well as inspire them within their readers? The prolific and emotionally riveting Quincy Scott Jones teaches this difficult art in a six-week workshop, now enrolling participants. The class will journey through the sensations of frustration, terror, nostalgia, anger, liberation, and celebration, pairing a relevant poetic technique with each feeling. Close out the class with up to 10 striking and resonant new pieces.


5. UCLA Extension’s “Memory and Story” Workshop

Dates: Saturday, Mar. 6, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. PT 

Cost: $0


Enrollment opens Feb. 20 for this one-day deep dive with Kim Dower, former City Poet Laureate of West Hollywood. While less structured and in-depth than the workshops spanning multiple weeks, this quick session aims to tap into memories to illuminate poetry’s most fundamental, sensory elements through “automatic writing.” Liberate your writing process through rich imagery and unbridled, subconscious reflection. The free, introductory workshop also lets writers gauge if they might be interested in more involved writing courses and certificate options from UCLA Extension.


Online workshops empower you to create your own adult classroom. Happy writing!