Writing Circle Workshop: A Focus on Nine Contemporary Poets
with Susan Vespoli
Want to gather to write twice a week in the community of a writing circle? In this eight-week class, we will meet on Zoom twice a week to free-write, read and witness for classmates, fill journals with raw material to use in our own poems or short essays, while studying nine contemporary poets/essayists to model after and let their work influence our own writing.
On Zoom, we will:
- Gather together in two writing circles on Zoom every week (Mondays and Fridays). During each 90-minute circle, we will write as quickly as we can in time bursts (usually 10 to 12 minutes each) in response to creative writing prompts.
- Witness and support each other in our writing practices.
- This process is not only freeing and community building; it is also a way to tap into the untamed mind to find poems/essays just waiting to be written.
On the Class Site, we will:
- Study a contemporary poet/writer each week (two in Week Five). How have their life paths influenced their writing? What can we learn from them to use in our own writing?
- Learn to sift through pages of raw writing to find the snippets that can be turned into poems or short essays.
- Write a poem or short essay each week in response to assignments throughout the course.
- Give and receive feedback on posted poems and short essays.
Whether you’re a seasoned poet looking for a way to deepen your poems, an essayist or free-write enthusiast, or anyone looking for an intimate writing community, this writing course is for you.
Writing Circle Times
Mondays at 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Fridays at 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m Pacific Time
Susan created a very safe experience for all of us. She’s a fantastic facilitator.
Week One—Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver (born in 1935, died in 2019) was an American poet whose work was largely inspired by nature. She won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
Week Two—Diane Seuss
Diane Seuss (born in 1956) is an American poet and educator who has penned, among other things, remarkable out-of-the-box sonnets. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Week Three—Ocean Vuong
Ocean Vuong, (born in 1988) is a prize-winning Vietnamese American poet, novelist, and essayist.
Week Four—Tony Hoagland
Tony Hoagland (born in 1953, died in 2018) was an American poet, essayist, and educator with a great sense of humor and irony.
Week Five—Dorianne Laux & Joe Millar
Dorianne Laux (born in 1952) is a prize-winning American poet and educator who was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She is married to American poet and educator, Joe Millar, who has worked as a telephone repairman and commercial fisherman.
Week Six—Ross Gay
Ross Gay (born 1974) is an American poet, essayist, and professor. He won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry.
Week Seven—Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton (born 1936, died 2010) was an American poet, writer, and educator. She was Poet Laureate of Maryland and twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
Week Eight—Joy Harjo
Student Feedback for Susan Vespoli:
The weekly meets up have been a blessing in these unusual times. I have felt lifted after every session. It's incredible to participate in a creative space that is encouraging and kind. Natalia Evans
Susan is inspirational--positive, thoughtful, and always willing to help. She is not just a teacher, but also a peer and a fellow writer guiding the class through the journey. John Johnson
Susan Vespoli is a wonderful teacher/facilitator. She creates a safe space for each group, gives us realistic timed writings with soft landings, and makes sure that no one is ever left out from reading. Most all of us show up for the twice-a-week group, and as the days go by, our writing gets deeper into meaning. We truly end each session not just knowing each other better, but with a deep caring toward each other. This is my fourth group in the circle with Susan, and I hope there will be many more to come. Andrea Gordon
Really great writing circle. Lovely group of writers, great feedback given and received, and a wonderful experience writing together. Made me realize the importance of a good writing community. Susan's writing circles are a gift. I learned so much from everyone, and am immensely grateful for the opportunity to write with this group. Amy Smith
Susan's class was a joy. It was well organized and interesting. Susan is a caring and very invested teacher. She was very present all during the class and her feedback was well thought and helpful. Ariela Zucker
I started taking Susan’s classes almost 2 years ago and never stopped.What a blessing for my writing and my mental health. Her writing circles are a place to let loose and get creative. She does an excellent job of making it a safe space to share. Wild writing has been pivotal for me as a writer. It is where I come up with new material for poems and prose, and has also grown into a spiritual practice. I have grown so much as a poet from Susan’s feedback and encouragement. Ten out of ten, highly recommended to take again and again! Dean Angeles
This was my first writing circle course; I've been dabbling in poetry for a while now but had not interacted with others in this sort of setting. Susan created a welcoming, open environment for all of the students and chose some terrific poems as prompts. I am now inspired to go to the next level and workshop my poems rather than just writing from prompts. Tom Kerr
Excellent. The whole class—teacher and fellow writers—are so supportive and encouraging. Cheryl Treiber-Kawaoka
This is my favorite of the three courses I've taken with Writers.com. The Zoom writing circles were incredibly powerful. Susan is a great facilitator. She was always timely in feedback and had a well organized course that was easy to navigate. Tamara Kreutz
Susan is a truly gifted teacher, whose presence and generous spirit create a safe environment in which to write and share freely. I appreciate her openness, the lack of judgement, and her willingness always to share her own writing. Lovely circle! Sarah Putnam
Susan was lovely and responded in a timely manner. She gave detailed feedback... The content of this class was PERFECT. Lessette F. Altamiranda.
Susan brought together a group of strangers from all walks of life and all points on the continent, and under her calm and insightful leadership encouraged us to find our own writing styles, speak our own truths, and support each other as a community. Jennifer Burton
Susan's feedback and promptness were very professional. Her lessons are packed with information and ideas. And, after the class was completed, she kept the site open for additional time to finish assignments, which I greatly appreciated. I look forward to interacting with her in another class! Joan Connor
This was a terrific class. The lessons were well-organized and stimulating. They had excellent "lectures" and plenty of additional resources and ideas. I will be able to refer back to them for inspiration for months. Susan was a thoughtful and resourceful teacher. She was able to nurture an especially lively and collegial relationship among the class, as we discussed the lessons and responded to each other's writing. Please encourage Susan to offer this class again! Marge Osborn
I have taken a number of courses at Writers.com and I have always found the teachers did a good job. My all- time favorite teacher is Susan Vespoli. She did an excellent job of providing readings that set a creative tone and she chose excellent prompts. She assured us that it was not necessary to use what she provided. I appreciated the manner in which she responded to our shares. At no time did I feel that I was taking a risk in reading what I wrote because Susan had created such a safe place. Jane Knox
Taking Susan’s workshop helps me generate tons of ideas for my fiction writing. It also helps me write regularly. I cannot wait to join her next session. Sharon Mirza
The writing circles on Zoom have been my favorite part of this class. Being able to write at scheduled times rather than around the clock really helps me to set writing dates and to write with others. Also, I like the spontaneous nature of the writing on Zoom meetings, and being able to see and hear the other students and the teacher. Noa Granot
This class was amazing! Susan did a fantastic job with the curriculum and with keeping the group moving with discussion and encouragement. Susan created a very safe experience for all of us. She's a fantastic facilitator - providing poems and lines from those poems that somehow really tap into things for me. Andi Reed