Hamptons Retreat

Join us for our fifth annual retreat the weekend of June 2–4, 2017, for poetry classes, workshops and readings in a beautiful house in Hampton Bays within walking distance of the Peconic Bay, with nine ocean beaches nearby and a swimming pool, hot tub, tennis court and beach volleyball court all on-site.

Faculty members Natalie Eilbert, Jessica Greenbaum, Jason Koo and Joshua Mehigan will lead morning poetry classes devoted to writing new material as well as afternoon workshops providing feedback on previously written work. Students will share their work in evening poetry readings with the faculty.

Registration covers tuition ($395 / $370 for members) and includes free lodging, food and drinks for the entire weekend. Lodging has been generally donated by our hosts, Rosa and Tony Smith, and Poet-Chef Tracy May Fuad will be preparing our delicious meals! Standard registration includes lodging with a roommate—you can register with one or we’ll arrange one for you—though a select number of private rooms are available for an extra $150. Alternatively, you can save $100 on registration by crashing on a couch or in a tent in the backyard. Let us know your rooming preferences and any dietary restrictions you might have on the registration form. Check out photos from last year’s retreat here.

To get to the retreat, take the LIRR (train) or Hampton Jitney (bus) to Hampton Bays; if you’re driving, take the Sunrise Highway (RT 27) to Exit 65. More detailed information is available upon registration.

Registration deadline: SUN, MAY 14, 2017 SOLD OUT!
Earlybird discount: $15 off by SUN, APR 30


Retreat Schedule

Friday, June 2

12–6: arrival
6:00–7:30: happy hour / introductions
7:30–9:00: dinner
9:00–10:00: readings

Saturday, June 3

8–9: breakfast

9–10:15: “Difficult Poets”/ Natalie Eilbert

Close reading, as a tool for poetry, has value beyond the act. Through reading a text with focused care, one can learn specific contexts and histories through subtle and nuanced determination. One could write a poem today, for example, in which one uses the phrase “red line,” and years later, close readers would learn about another, more brutal red line associated with (hubristic) geopolitical actions. In this class, we’ll talk about some particularly knotty contemporary poets who are lyrically and/or conceptually dense, and learn all the ways we might possibly extract meaning. It is in this way of evincing and discovering intentions that we can consider our own hand on the page. We will read a poem (to be determined) in class and everyone will have an opportunity to plumb the verse through an angle of their choosing. After we analyze the page, it’s your turn. In class, you will explore your own inclinations, celebrating the oblique, odd, and at times unconscious mechanisms that make your poems your poems. As Barthes says, “There’s nothing in discourse that is not to be found in a sentence.”

10:30–11:45: “Building Beyond Walls: Border Crossings, Migrations, Transgressions” / Jason Koo

Our new president has done his catastrophic best to close this country’s borders and build walls wherever and whenever he can. But as Robert Frost once said, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”; American poetry, like the country itself, has always been about border crossings, migrations, transgressions, and all the president has done is stoke this natural impulse into a boiling rage. He’s tried to enforce walls at a time when American poetry has arguably been at its most agile in pushing past boundaries, with a number of poets adopting longer (often book-length), more expansive and inclusive hybrid forms that redefine what we think of as poetry and seem readier to reflect the realities we face. In this workshop, we’ll look at two recent examples of these kinds of form that gained widespread recognition, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Daniel Borzutzky’s The Performance of Becoming Human, as well as Tommy Pico’s new book-length Nature Poem, focusing on how these works push the boundaries between poetry and prose to open up a space that seems capable of all kinds of crossings. We’ll attempt our own poems that migrate from lines to paragraphs to knock down walls that traditionally enclose “the poem,” opening up our writing to avenues we may not have considered before or have been afraid to start down, including more of the multiplicity that’s around us and within us.

11:45–3: rec time/lunch
3–5:30: workshops with Eilbert & Koo
5:30–7: rec time/happy hour
7–8:30: dinner
8:30–9:30 readings

Sunday, June 4

8–9: breakfast

9–10:15: “Fact-Based Poems: Truth and Beauty” / Jessica Greenbaum

Our fact-distressed political climate highlights our great reliance on and respect for the shocking piquancy of reality. This workshop will include readings of poems based on fact and biography, including Deborah Larsen’s Stitching Porcelain, from the life of Matteo Ricci, the sixteenth-century monk who travelled to China’s “Middle Kingdom”; Nicole Cooley’s The Afflicted Girls, written in collaboration with primary source materials of the Salem witch trials; Erica Funkhouser’s poems about the actual Johnny Appleseed; and other poets offering facts about personages and the natural world in their work. Participants can expect to do their own abbreviated Internet research on chosen people or entities that fuel your curiosity. Weather phenomena, indigenous languages, variants of poker, the history of Iceland, Diana Nyad’s world’s records, the brilliance of design in the wings (and other parts) of the great horned owl—these are the kinds of subjects that might reflect what you choose to understand more about the world and, inevitably as poetry would have it, the self.

10:30–11:45: “A Particular Moment: One Approach to Writing Political Poetry” / Joshua Mehigan

The current and long-overdue resurgence in politically-engaged poetry has sparked a new set of challenges for contemporary poets. In this workshop, we’ll read a small selection of short poems (e.g. Brooks, Fenton and Stallings), each using apparently simple description, imagery and language to engage with a sweepingly complex social moment. We’ll look at these poets’ artful deployment of unostentatious metaphor, nuanced language and phrasing, and sonic effects, with an eye to learning a few strategies for writing effective political poems. In particular, we’ll observe how poets zero in on just the right verbal and imaginative material to evoke a complex physical and moral universe. We’ll also think about how to avoid common pitfalls like heavyhandedness or quickly-dated references, and we’ll sound our models for new ways to create our own powerful poems of protest or witness.

11:45–3: rec time/lunch
3–5:30: workshops with Greenbaum & Mehigan
5:30–7: departure