Other Poetry Workshops

In addition to poetry readings, the following are selected activities and workshops I can provide relating to poetry, including and other than haiku. Most of these presentations include handouts, and some include a PowerPoint presentation.


Poetry Readings — I can provide poetry readings focusing on my haiku, tanka, translations, longer poetry (serious and humourous), or in any combination, and can combine readings of my poetry, or the poetry of others, with workshops and panel discussions. To see examples of my poetry, please visit the following pages: Collaborations, Haibun, Haiga, Haiku and Senryu, Poems, Rengay, Sequences, and Translations.

Poetry Walks — I am experienced at leading outdoor nature walks to inspire poetry, as well as in indoor or urban settings, such as in art galleries to generate ekphrastic poetry in response to artwork.

“Our Endless and Proper Work: Learning Attention from Mary Oliver” — Mary Oliver’s “Instructions for living a life” were to pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it. This inspirational talk for writers of all experience levels covers her key poems that emphasize attention, cultivating our astonishment and ability to tell about life’s wonders through poetry, fiction, and other personal expression.

“Poets Wanted: Dead or Alive” — Two-hour presentations featuring the biographies and poems of famous poets of varied literary traditions, including videos, discussion, and the reading and sharing of poems. Poets I have covered (each with their own two-hour presentation) include Maya Angelou, Bashō (haiku poet), E. E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Issa (haiku poet), Denise Levertov, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Rumi, Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, William Stafford, Wallace Stevens, Rabindranath Tagore, Dylan Thomas, and William Carlos Williams, with more in the works, such as Mary Oliver, W. S. Merwin, Lewis Carroll, Lorine Niedecker, T. S. Eliot, Cid Corman, Tomas Tranströmer, Shiki, Buson, William Shakespeare, and others. See “Poets Wanted: Dead or Alive.”

“All About Oulipo” — An overview of absurdist and arbitrarily restrictive writing exercises as a pathway to fresh creative expression, focusing on poetry. Also covers the role of chance and randomness, and writing prompts. Includes, handouts, example poems, and sharing.


“Ten Ways to Improve Your Poetry with Haiku” — A sampling of haiku techniques and how these techniques can be applied to longer poetry (and even fiction) to add extra depth and variety. Includes the use of concrete sensory imagery, the difference between observation and inference, immediacy and accessibility, formal devices, form, seasonal references, juxtaposition, and more.


“E. E. Cummings Master Class” — An all-day or multiple-evening class that explores the poetry of E. E. Cummings (find out why I’m actually capitalizing that correctly), divided into such categories as sonnets, love poems, visual/concrete poems, political poems, poems about childhood, and more, plus a session for writing similar poems of your own.


“To Say the Least: An Introduction to Short Poetry Forms” — A taste of such forms as haiku, senryu, tanka, triolet, cinquain, double dactyls, and much more, with example poems, and time to try writing them ourselves. With optional sharing and discussion.

“One Hundred Poets” — An introduction to the poems and poets of the classic Japanese text, the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, made popular in Japan by a card game played every New Year, using translations from 100 Poets: Passions of the Imperial Court (Tokyo: PIE Books, 2008), which I cotranslated with Emiko Miyashita. Includes a translation of ours that appeared on the back of 150,000,000 U.S. postage stamps in 2012. Can be tailored to focus on love poems, poems of Japanese geographical or cultural interest, or other topics (limited by the poems themselves).

“The Seed of the Human Heart: Introducing Tanka” — Most people know haiku, but what is tanka? Tanka helped to spawn haiku, yet has a history that’s almost a thousand years older. This overview of the history and techniques of tanka poetry includes time for writing and sharing/feedback. In 2000, I founded the Tanka Society of America, the first and largest tanka organization outside Japan. See essay.

“Writing Poems About Poetry” — What’s the difference between poems about poetry and the true ars poetica, a poem about how to write poetry? Or is there no difference? This workshop explores the distinction with copious examples for discussion, plus writing exercises.

Running a Small Press or Poetry Journal Dreaming of starting your own poetry journal or small press? This class covers the pros and cons of various approaches, in print and online, relying on your input and discussion. With the right building blocks and good planning, you can turn your publication dream into a reality. This class covers visioning such as motives/benefits and branding/genres, and practical issues such as financing/subscriptions, layout/design, printing/distribution, frequency, websites, publicity, submission guidelines, teamwork/delegation, endgames, and other topics.