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Available Online

Memory & Desire: The Poetry of Midlife

4 Weeks • with Gail Thomas • All Levels

  • Starts Jun 2
  • 250 US dollars
  • Online via Zoom

Available spots

Class Description

''I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. It’s time.” ~ Brené Brown A challenge that many writers face is how to choose artful details when writing about memory or strong emotional content. Some of us may shy away from expressing deep loss or anger, or we may produce work that’s overly sentimental. What devices can a poet use to make deeply personal material most effective? This workshop is for poets in midlife who want to take their work to a deeper level by paying close attention to matters of craft. For inspiration we will read poems that elevate personal experience by paying close attention to craft. We will focus on imagery, sound, voice, line breaks, beginnings and endings. How does the form you choose complement the content? Writers will receive feedback on their works in progress. Each session will include an hour of reading poems that illustrate crafts points and an hour of giving/receiving feedback on one poem. Instruction will include the format for giving and receiving feedback. There will be opportunities for participants to workshop three poems. Poems will be sent to instructor the week before, compiled into a word document and sent to people so poems can be read in advance of session. WEEKLY BREAKDOWN WEEK ONE: MINING PERSONAL EXPERIENCE We will discuss how poets write about personal experience in midlife and the difference between sentiment and sentimentality. WEEK TWO: USING IMAGERY, SOUND, & RHYTHM We will focus on examples of poems that use image, metaphor, and sound effectively to strengthen how the poem conveys feeling. WEEK THREE: EFFECTIVE BEGINNINGS/ENDINGS, FORM, LINE BREAKS We will focus on areas of craft that may be used to strengthen poems expressing deep emotion. WEEK FOUR: DEVELOPING DISCERNMENT We will discuss how to know when a poem is finished and strategies for developing discernment. We will have a final reading in which participants will share one poem that they have worked on during the workshop. INSTRUCTOR GAIL THOMAS is the author of six books of poetry. Individual poems have been published widely in literary magazines such as The North American Review, CALYX, and Valparaiso, and she has won numerous awards. She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and Ucross, and several poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. You may read more about her work at

Upcoming Sessions

Cancellation Policy

If you withdraw from a workshop TEN DAYS OR MORE before the start of the class: You'll receive full credit toward another workshop OR a full refund (minus 10%, a transaction fee that is non-refundable and that we would otherwise be charged). If you withdraw from a workshop nine days before the start of the class up until 48 hours before: You'll receive a refund minus 20%. If you withdraw from a workshop less than 48 hours before the start of a class or after the class has begun: We cannot offer credit or any refund. If you are absent on the day of your workshop or miss it for any reason, we are unable to offer any kind of refund or credit. If we have to cancel a class you have paid for, you will receive a full refund, without the service charge deducted. For our full listing of policies, visit www.PioneerValleyWriters.Com, Policies page (under Home). To withdraw and receive a partial refund according to the above, please get in touch with Joy at

Contact Details

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