Online | Poetry | Workshop

2-Day Online Generative Poetry Workshop: The Failure of Inspiration (A Poetics of Attention)

This week only, new registrants for this class will also receive a 15% discount on our Don’t Write Alone virtual retreat, which starts this Saturday the 16th. 

Often, we go long periods without writing a poem and we blame it on a lack of inspiration. Other times, we have a strong notion, idea, or first line that we can’t seem to travel beyond. “I’m feeling uninspired,” we might say to ourselves. So what will you do as a writer when you’re not feeling inspired?

If there is such a thing as writer’s block it is this: the failure of inspiration. How can we transform the failure of inspiration into a poetics of attention? Across this two-day generative workshop, we will recalibrate our approach to producing a poem, learning to rely on attention. We will work through a series of questions, prompts, activities, and techniques to cultivate and sharpen our attention.

Writers will walk away with several new methods for writing even when inspiration isn’t available. The benefit of a generative workshop is to come away with new drafts on which you can continue working and finding new strategies for producing work in the future. Class time will consist of writing prompts and students will have the opportunity to share their writing out loud for brief verbal feedback from the instructor and their classmates.

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.

Joy Priest

Joy Priest is the author of Horsepower (Pitt Poetry Series, 2020), winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. Her work has been recognized by a 2021 NEA Fellowship, a 2019-2020 Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship, and the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize, among other awards, and has appeared in numerous publications, including Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, American Poetry Review, and The Atlantic.


"HORSEPOWER tells what it is to be a bridge in one's family between racism and a love forged in defiance of racism; it tells what it is to need to both escape that role and embrace it. And, just as importantly, it tells the arrival of a powerful new poet, a poet to whose stories I will continue to listen."

Shane McCrae

"Through tragedy and triumph, Joy Priest’s poems thunder in the ears like a supercharged heartbeat. Her landscapes drawn technicolor, intense with paradox and heat, devotion is indistinguishable from rage. HORSEPOWER seethes with so much intelligence and feeling that comparisons to Hurston are inevitable. Jean Toomer also comes quickly to mind, but Priest’s voice is one of a kind. Let these poems comfort you, if you dare, soft as the pillow that hides the gun."

Gregory Pardlo

"HORSEPOWER, Joy Priest’s debut collection, is a captivating display of might and elegance, a language of astonishing sinew through which the backdrop of place and a compelling life come into vivid focus. Undergirding these poems is a restless, resilient spirit: an urgent grappling with the desire to both remember and outrun the past, with history both personal and communal, and the complexities of American racism in its most intimate manifestation—familial love. I had, for/years, Priest writes, been taught to live that way. Black, unassuming,/zipped up in history....Throughout this remarkable debut, Priest shows us what it means to clear the stall, break out of the traces, and run unbridled into life."

Natasha Trethewey

"Ms. Priest’s review of my pandemic poems exceeded my expectations. The feedback she provided was thought provoking and well-articulated. It’s always a pleasure to have a professional poet’s personalized time and attention. Ms. Priest gave equal weight to each poem and made keen observations on the poems’ subject matter, form and word choices. She framed the weaker areas in the poems with questions which will be instrumental when I revise this series. Her time and attention to detail was welcomed and greatly appreciated."

Susan Sanders

"Still meditating on all I learned from today’s amazing workshop with Joy Priest. I am possibly the slowest poet on the planet. Like, months per draft. Joy’s workshop inspired me to the point that I wrote a draft in 15 mins. Her ability to teach craft and desire is unmatched! Thank you for making me (and everyone in the group) feel heard, and feel safe to explore our thoughts/ideas."

Ariana Benson