(Full Festival Schedule Here)


Beyond the Self in the Personal Poem

A teacher once told me that every poet must learn how not to write about oneself. He also said that every poem he’s ever written is about his father. How can both statements be true? Is every poem somehow an intimate glimpse into the poet's life? When does writing the personal poem become problematic? In this workshop, we will read three poems, models to help us answer these questions and to help us consider ways to move beyond ourselves while still engaging our own narratives. Finally, participants will be encouraged to try their hand at one of three possible prompts.

11:05 AM

Maya Khosla

All in the Frame: From the Poem to the Film

In this session, we will discuss ways to work with footage, images, and a complete poem – with the goal of creating a short film or film clip from the poem. We will share film excerpts including works by Terry Ehret, Suzanne VegaForrest GanderRabindranath Tagore, and others. Participants will have a chance to consider the essentials of visuals that can be used to emphasize or even heighten parts of a poem.

11:05 AM


Protest poetry and song:  What is the difference between poetry and a lyric?

One difference between poetry and lyrics is that lyrics sort of fade into the background.
They fade on the page and live on the stage when set to music.
-Stephen Sondheim

Lucinda has curated poems from primary schools into a libretto called Dare to Dream that was staged at The Royal Albert Hall in London on 18-March this year. We will discuss the difference between poetry and lyric and explore the potential of music to unify where words often divide us. We will look at contemporary poets and singer songwriters including Billy Bragg, Leonard Cohen and Kate Bush and - together - contemplate their differences.

11:05 AM


Your Voice in a Visual World

This workshop is about competing for attention in a visual world and getting your poetry heard on social media and the web. Many people miss that the spoken word, the story, is the foundation of any video. In this workshop we’ll cover choices of media - photography, video, and audio; then finding your audience through social media, including the pros and cons of the biggies, and how, what and when to post.

11:05 AM


Sierra Poetry Festival Open Mic

During lunch seasoned Bay Area and Burning Man slam master and open mic maestro Russell Reza-Khaliq Gonzaga will lead an Open Mic on our mainstage. Our open mic will be a fun, inclusive event working within an accelerated Round Robin format. There will be a time-limit on each round of reading but with the option to read again in subsequent rounds, time allowing. Festival goers of all ages are encouraged to participate, including beginners. Bring your poems and join us - and remember to sign-up for Open Mic at our Registration Desk when you arrive!

12:05 PM


Introspection and Form in Poetry

Marcelo’s workshop is both critical and generative. Participants of all levels are invited to tap into their own unique and varied experiences to produce a new and original poem or lyric sketch. The workshop will be inclined towards prose through multiple and spontaneous processes of introspection, facilitated in a safe and welcoming environment. Participants can share their work for critique produced in this workshop, but are not required to. Together, participants will explore liberties within the rigid form of such ancient verses as the Ghazal and the sonnet, as well as practice the possibilities of Duende as described by Lorca.

2:25 PM


The Irresistible Beauty of All Things

This workshop is inspired by a lecture by Federico García Lorca, “The Irresistible Beauty of All Things.” Matthew Zapruder will share a little of his revision process, and provide practical excercises for both group breakouts and individual contemplation. He will share visuals to aid the workshop process, and there will be time for conversation connected with his seminal book, recently published, Why Poetry.

2:25 PM


Ecopoetics and the Art of Empathy

In this workshop the idea that “we are all in this life together and what we make of it is what we get” will be explored.  Lucille Lang Day and Chris Olander will present that all life forms are related to each other, and that our relationships to other species nourish both rich and healthy ecosystems and a diverse ecopoetic community. This is a generative workshop using similes, metaphors, images, and our own experience to reach a deeper understanding of place and discover what we know of ourselves in relation to other species. It will be a fun and inspiring exercise that plays with words and syntax to inspire imaginative leaps beyond perceived limits into landscapes of what can be produced through poetry.

2:25 PM


Beyond Witness: Participation & Accountability in Poetry through Innovative Forms

This presentation and generative workshop will encourage and present ways for poets to move beyond the role of witness to participant. Definitions of “poetry of witness” are shifting as poets seek to defy the inherent passivity of the term “witness.” Increasingly, poets are interrogating the safety afforded by time and distance, engaging legacies of trauma, including those they have inherited or been proxy to, in order to confront the past and their own participation. Sara will present ways to stretch and flex qualities of the sonnet and survey various innovative forms like graphs, mad libs, and quizzes. We will discuss how we can create innovative forms that require the reader’s engagement and excavate often-invisible layers of participation, eschewing language of witness in favor of a poetics of active accountability.

2:25 PM