Poetics Lab

Generating a Practice of Poetry

A sustainable writing practice is not a static thing, but a mutable, shifting relationship between writing and life that is built and adjusted over time. When it is working, it feeds the life of the writer as well as the writing itself. But sometimes as writers we find ourselves in a rut (the year 2020 might be described as one huge rut), and then a shift towards practice and judgement-free generation can act as a kind of reset.

This seven-week online workshop will be wholly generative, offering an alternative to the traditional feedback-based workshop. All writing will be done in class; all students need to do is show up. For each of the first six two-hour sessions, the instructor will lead students through a series of readings, viewings and prompts meant to explore the relationship between form and content, open new pathways and bypass roadblocks to creativity and creation. We’ll draw inspiration from other practices, such as the visual arts and film. Some prompts and invitations will be open-ended; some will be hyper-specific. There will be time set aside in each class for optional sharing and noticing of in-class writing done within the group. The sixth class will be dedicated specifically to exploring creative processes involved with revision. Throughout, there will be an emphasis on building our own practices outside of class.

The final, seventh class will be a three-hour process lab in which interested students (guided by the instructor) will share their own prompts, leading the group in writing exercises and discussions of process, ultimately generating a pool of prompts and invitations that students can access after the lab has finished. In addition to class time, each student will meet with the instructor for a one-on-one video conference to discuss their work. Students will leave the class having generated approximately 10–15 new pieces of writing. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Thursday night, and class work will be shared via Wet Ink.

Workshop Details


Emily Skillings is the author of Fort Not (The Song Cave, 2017), which Publishers Weekly called a “fabulously eccentric, hypnotic, and hypervigilant debut,” as well as two chapbooks: Backchannel (Poor Claudia) and Linnaeus: The 26 Sexual Practices of Plants (No, Dear/ Small Anchor Press). Recent poems can be found or are forthcoming in Poetry, Harper’s, Boston Review, Brooklyn Rail, BOMB, Hyperallergic, LitHub and Jubilat. The recipient of a 2017 Pushcart Prize, Skillings is a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, a feminist poetry collective, small press and event series. She received her MFA from Columbia University, where she was a creative writing teaching fellow, and has taught creative writing elsewhere at Yale University, Parsons School of Design and Poets House.