Love and Lust in Poetry

“For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.” —Rainer Maria Rilke

What topic have poets endeavored, returned to, gotten lost and found in more than the astonishing vortex of love and lust? Love and lust—and the many corollaries of desire—find us alive or devastated, land us so profoundly inside and outside our bodies, in physical and metaphysical realms, liminal, ravening. How do we write about the intimate, intense, erotic, electric and also lilting, long, deep and aching experience of love and/or lust in ways that are fresh, moving and true? In this six-week online workshop, we’ll go boldly into the thickets of our trysts and attachments looking for gold and myrrh. We’ll work to be deeply sincere, vulnerable and innovative, avoiding pat, clichéd, Hallmark-like renditions of what it all is and feels like. Yes, in this workshop, with our hearts beating in iambs—ba bump ba bump—we’ll plumb the idiosyncrasy and specificity of our own experiences to join the ever-expanding conversation about this bewildering, bewitching (i.e., significant) part of the human experience. Readings will include poems by e.e. cummings, Frank O’Hara, Adrienne Rich, Lucille Clifton, Larry Levis, Anne Carson, John Murillo, Ada Limón, Richard Siken, Tim Seibles, Li-Young Lee, Natalie Diaz, Cameron Awkward Rich and more. Each week we’ll do generative writing exercises in class and/or discuss a sampling of poems related to the main prompt, as well as workshop one another’s poems, offering attentive, considered feedback. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Sunday, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.

Workshop Details


  • Teacher: dawn lonsinger
  • Level: II
  • Dates: Feb 19–Mar 26, 2023
  • Time: Sundays, 2:00–5:00 pm (ET)
  • Location: online via Zoom
  • Cost: $445
  • Class size: 5–10 students
  • Registration deadline: SUN, FEB 12, 2023
  • Earlybird discount: $15 off through SUN, FEB 12
dawn lonsinger

dawn lonsinger

dawn lonsinger is the author of Whelm— winner of the Idaho Prize in Poetry, Cornell’s Freund Prize, and a Shelf Unbound Notable Book of the Year. Her poems have appeared in the American Poetry ReviewColorado ReviewGuernicaLos Angeles Review and elsewhere. Lyric essays have appeared in Black Warrior Review and Western Humanities Review. She is the recipient of the Corson Bishop Prize, Smartish Pace’s Beullah Rose Prize, a Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship to South Korea. She has also won the Scowcroft Prize, an Academy of American Poets Prize, three Utah Arts Council Writing Awards and four Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes. lonsinger holds a BA in studio art and English as well as an MA in literature from Bucknell University, an MFA in poetry from Cornell University and a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Utah. She is an associate professor of literature and creative writing at Muhlenberg College, where she was recently awarded the the Paul C. Empie ’29 Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching.