Hamptons Retreat

Join us at our fourth annual retreat the weekend of June 3-5, 2016 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 Bianca Stone 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 ($325 / $300 for members) and includes free lodging, food and drinks for the entire weekend. 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 $125. Let us know your rooming preferences and any dietary restrictions you might have on the registration form.

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 22, 2016 SOLD OUT!
Earlybird discount: $15 off by MAY 8


Retreat Schedule

Friday, June 3

12-5: arrival
5-6:30: happy hour greetings

6:30-7:30: “Jazz Tasting”

We’ll kick off the weekend with a few glasses of wine and a writing exercise modeled after a typical wine tasting, where you’ll write about the smell, color and taste of different jazz solos instead of wines. Because you’re a poet and you do that kind of thing.

7:30-9:00: dinner
9:00-10:00: readings

Saturday, June 4

8-9: breakfast

9-10:15: “Poem as Party: Inviting People into Your Poems” / Jason Koo

Writing poetry, as we all know, is a solitary activity, and spending too much time alone can lead to some solipsistic poems. Too often we leave people out of our poems as we write obsessively about ourselves. One of the benefits of retreats such as this one is that we’re forced to leave our shells as poets and find other people, writing and reading alongside each other. In this class, we’ll look at poems by poets such as Frank O’Hara and James Schuyler in which people are part of the necessary creative fabric of the poet’s life. We’ll also look at more contemporary examples by poets such as Aracelis Girmay, Martín Espada, Morgan Parker and Tommy Pico as we write our own poems inhabited by the people in our lives.

10:30-11:45: “This Poem Is On Fire: Performance and Poetry” / Natalie Eilbert

Performance has always been interwoven in poetry, and the inverse is also true. And yet poetry readings have a reputation for being boring with some bursts of energy at best, while being sterile and inert at their worst. How can poets call attention to themselves and dictate their space during performance? In this class, we’ll explore the nuances of this question and read work that demands to be read off the page—as we also admire the gravity laid out by the text in question. Poetry is a sublime unshackling of forces and by allowing ourselves to be at the grips of that lyric urgency, we can become better readers—whether on the page or on the stage. We’ll read (out loud!) poems by Danez Smith, LaTasha Nevada Diggs, Jenny Zhang, Angel Nafis, Don Mee Choi and more. And we’ll generate poems capable of total atomic eruption and practice reading them out loud with the same fire that we wrote them.

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

Sunday, June 5

8-9: breakfast

9-10:15: “Awe: The Crux of Poetic Inspiration” / Bianca Stone

While we get this rare opportunity to work in a beautiful setting, to be near the ocean and nature, this class will look at poetry that hones in on experiences of awe: the joyful inspiring sensation of being more than ourselves. We’ll ask, What does it really mean to be in a state of awe? How do poets translate that experience? And do they then pass awe on to us, as readers? We’ll look at a few examples by poets such as John Keats, Dorothea Lasky, Elizabeth Bishop and Kenneth Rexroth, and at some scientific neurological facts. Capacity for awe is unique in human beings. It gives us that existential shock we need to push aside selfish concerns and have tremendous insights. How perfect for a poet?

10:30-11:45: “Beyond Six Words: Pushing Past Our Default Vocabulary” / Jessica Greenbaum

In May of 1964, Poetry published a poem by David Wagoner called “The Words,” in which he defends his common usage of six words. What would your six words be? Would you defend them? How far can you take them? What happens when a writer’s obsession outlives a reader’s interest? What is the role of form in nudging us off our proverbial couch of well-worn to saggy words? What poets do you read to upend your own expectations of word choice? This class will isolate those identifying words that recur in our work and look at how we may be too comfortable in them, pushing us to expand upon our default vocabulary.

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