Summer Retreat

Join us for our eighth annual summer retreat—and our first hosted virtually! We thought it was still too soon to gather safely for this in the Hamptons as we usually do, but we’ll be channeling all the beach vibes we can into our Zoom sessions. During the weekend of June 18–20, faculty members Natalie Eilbert, Marwa Helal, Tyehimba Jess and Jason Koo will lead morning poetry classes on Saturday and Sunday devoted to writing new material and small-group afternoon workshops providing feedback on previously written work. Each student will meet with a chosen faculty member over the weekend for a 30-minute conference, and students and faculty will share their work in evening poetry readings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Because the retreat will be virtual, we’re happy to be able to offer it for half the usual price. If you’re in need of financial aid, we’re also offering full and partial fellowships to help with the cost of registration. We strongly encourage writers of color, LGBTQ+ writers, writers with disabilities, women writers and writers from other underserved communities to apply. Fellowship applications are due Sunday, April 25.

Register early by April 25 to take $100 off registration. Register between April 26 and May 16 to take $50 off registration. Brooklyn Poets members can take $25 off registration when it reaches full price. Registration ends May 31.

Registration pricing:


Retreat Schedule

Friday, June 18

6–7 PM: Zoom happy hour/introductions
7–7:45 PM: student readings
8–9 PM: faculty readings

Saturday, June 19

9–10:15 AM: “The Vocative” / Natalie Eilbert

Whether we hear the poem as an argument, a communion, a dialogue or a spell, someone or something is fixed on the other side of the language. “Vocative” comes from the Middle French meaning “showing the person or thing spoken to.” In this generative writing session, we’ll train our energies and lexicons on someone or something living, dead or having never existed (interpret this last one widely), in an effort to reveal the person or thing to whom or to which we are calling. We’ll read poems by Lucie Brock-Broido, TC Tolbert and Angel Nafis, who demonstrate in their verse rich extensions of self and their numinous others. Writing exercises will be braided throughout the seminar, as we envision, list and derive a means of speaking towards someone or something. We’ll end with a discussion of the role audience plays in such incantations and share some of what we wrote throughout the session.

10:30–11:45 AM: “Poem as Anti-Pandemic: Inviting People In” / Jason Koo

Writing poetry, as we all know, is a solitary activity, but spending too much time alone can lead to some pretty solipsistic poems—and many of us have been forced, no doubt, to spend too much time alone over the past year. Too often we leave people out of our poems as we write almost by default about ourselves. One of the benefits of a writing retreat, even a virtual one, is that we’re forced to leave our shells as poets and connect with other people, writing and reading alongside each other. In this class, we’ll read and discuss poems in which people form part of the necessary creative fabric of the poet’s life. We’ll look at poems by poets such as Frank O’Hara, James Schuyler, Aracelis Girmay, Jessica Greenbaum, Rachel Eliza Griffiths and Tommy Pico as we write our own poems inhabited by the people in our lives.

1–3 PM: student-teacher conferences
4–6:30 PM: small-group workshops
8–9 PM: student readings

Sunday, June 20

9–10:15 AM: “The Art of the Lyric Essay” / Marwa Helal

Through a close reading of Eula Biss’s “Letter to Mexico,” we’ll retrace the mini-forms and structures that make up an exemplary lyric essay and discuss what makes it so. Students will be guided through collage-based prompts as we blur the lines of genre and explore poetic techniques that help us achieve the highest potential relationship between form and content. Supplementary readings will include work by Anne Carson and Hanif Abdurraqib.

10:30–11:45 AM: “The Ethics of Historical Research in Poetry”/ Tyehimba Jess

During this class, we’ll discuss the role of history in American poetry and the ethical responsibility of writers to study their personal and collective histories. We’ll also discuss and explore the role of cultural institutions and practices in creating compelling, distinctive poems. Each participant will be asked to bring one picture, article or song with them, and during the session everyone will create a poem that interrogates history and their identity using these historical documents.

1–3 PM: student-teacher conferences
4–6:30 PM: small-group workshops
8–9 PM: student readings