Creating a Book

A Little Universe in Your Hands

After finishing a poetry book you love, you might wonder: how the heck does one go from a mere assortment of poems to a pulsing, sensical constellation? Undoubtedly, the poet didn’t achieve this constellation on their first try. The process of honing a manuscript into a real universe with its own laws and impulses is fascinating. In this seven-week workshop, we’ll delve into these impulses to discover your book’s innate circuitry. Our classes will consist of workshopping each student’s manuscript (full-length book or chapbook) in detail, offering collective insight. We’ll workshop no more than two manuscripts per class, ensuring that we spend enough time on each, and work in pairs toward the end of the course to conduct guided final reviews. As this is an advanced workshop, our critiques will be a curiosity-driven team effort, where we honor the nuts and bolts of poetry—word choice, voice, enjambment, tone—alongside the greater gestures of a poem beside a poem. To further discover each manuscript’s direction, we’ll delve into order, aesthetics, intention, vision, musicality, genre, lineage and experimentation. To complement this deep dive into the creative process, we’ll also discuss publishing, working with an editor, allying one’s book with similar voices, and advocating for your work through the ups and downs of the submission process.

Workshop Details


Shira Erlichman is a poet, musician and visual artist. She was born in Israel and immigrated to the US when she was six. Her poems explore recovery—of language, of home, of mind—and value the “scattered wholeness” of healing. She earned her BA at Hampshire College and has been awarded the James Merrill Fellowship by the Vermont Studio Center, the Visions of Wellbeing Focus Fellowship at AIR Serenbe and a residency by the Millay Colony. Her work has been featured in the PBS NewsHour Poetry Series, Huffington Post, Seattle Times and New York Times, among other publications. Her debut poetry book, Odes to Lithium, was published by Alice James Books in September 2019. She is also the author and illustrator of the picture book Be/Hold (Penny Candy Books, 2019). She has taught for Urban Word NYC, the Volume Summer Institute and York College–CUNY, and she has been teaching online poetry classes via her company Freer Form for the last nine years. She lives in Brooklyn.