Variations on a Theme: The Foundations of a Poetry Project


Workshop meets four Saturdays:

  • Saturday, February 27, 12:30-2:30 pm CT
  • Saturday, March 6, 12:30-2:30 pm CT
  • Saturday, March 13, 12:30-2:30 pm CT
  • Saturday, March 20, 12:30-2:30 pm CT


  • Tuition: $100
  • Location: Zoom virtual workshop
  • Deadline: Registration closes noon, February 27

Tution Assistance Available!

Variations on a Theme: The Foundations of a Poetry Project


“…what most poets do is not a project but an act of intuition”

 Dorothea Lasky, Poetry Is Not a Project

How does one “intuit” a series of poems originating from a singular idea? This four-week workshop will investigate methods for beginning work on a poetry “project” or a series of poems with a common origin. Instead of viewing a poetry project as an outcome, we will view it as the act of taking inspiration to its extremes. We will build upon our creative foundation (our idea) to craft poems that are interconnected yet individual.

We will trace these methods by reading short selections from poetry collections using a clear source such as Tyhembia Jess’s Olio and Tracy K Smith’s Wade in the Water, and those with looser connections, such as Lucille Clifton’s Good News About the Earth and Leslie Scalapino’s that they were at the beach.  We will discuss how the poets enter and re-enter their subjects and how we can do so in our own work.

 Participants will choose their own source and through writing exercises, research, and playfulness, begin work on a long-term writing project. There will be opportunities to share our progress with one another and receive feedback, however the focus will not be revision. Instead, we will attend to the synergy of the project and the vitality of the individual components. Our end goal will be to establish how one can connect poems to each other in original and sustainable ways.

This workshop is based in the idea that poetry requires flexibility and openness, thus the terms “source” and “project” are open to interpretation. Writers of any genre or experience level are encouraged to participate.


Micky Bayonne is an artist and educator from Louisiana. They earned an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Micky is the current Provost Visiting Writer in Poetry at the University of Iowa.


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