Wider Than The Sky Poetry Festival | Workshops 2017
A Young People's Poetry Festival
Festival, Poetry, California, Youth, Young, High School, Teens, Writing
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The Language of Cinema

Dave Eng

This workshop explores adapting strategies from cinema and applying them to the production of poetry. How can techniques such as montage, the long take, tracking, focal lengths, framing, edits or cuts contribute to the creation of poetic statements and images? How would the use of soundtracks, dialogue or diegetic sound translate into verse? Through discussion and writing prompts we will consider the ways a poem can be generated and composed, both on the level of content as well as form, by borrowing from another practice which works with duration, sound, and images.

Exploring Intuition

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

Intuition can be one of the most powerful tools a writer has—it is important to learn to trust it, to hone it, to use it productively. In this workshop we will come together to explore our intuition through a combination of unrestrained free writing sessions and timed exercises guided by seemingly random words and phrases selected by each of us through our intuitive minds. As we write and compare results we will consider the role of the subconscious mind in producing work that resists the normative and the expected in order to capture the true essence of one’s experience.

Poetry Performance: Activate Your Voice and Listen

Tayllor Johnson

In this workshop Tayllor Johnson will debunk the myth of poetry and spoken word and show you how to make is uniquely YOURS. You will walk you through the writing process, performance, and the many ways that poetry has changed her world and the world. Using multi-media, personal experience, and YOUR voice, you can do a lot more than write and perform pretty words. If you have even an ounce of curiosity of what your voice sounds like when facing the universe, you are welcome to this space!


Kat Magill

Unify your voices to tell your story starting with simple haiku. Group poems are popular in the world of slam poetry because they are bold, powerful and bring the spirit of community to life on stage. The Collab workshop will give easy techniques for beginning to season writers to work together to create a poem showcasing 3-4 poets speaking up on a common interest. GROUP PIECE!

Found Poetry

Caroline Miller

Poetry is all around us, just waiting to be found. Ever played Madlibs? Telephone? If so, you’re writing poetry. When Siri autocorrects your grocery list into something gorgeous: that’s poetry. Feed two or three random words into Google, and there’s a poem to be made from the search results. Use a Sharpie to black out select words on any page of an old book: new poem. All of these are instances of “found poetry” and they’re approaches that anyone can try. In this workshop, we’ll play around with found poetry – a surefire way to get you writing whether you’re a new poet or an experienced one..


Hieu Minh Nguyen

A guided writing workshop that involves many different writing exercises that all revolve around myth making. Very low stakes and all skill levels are welcome. The workshop is used to help people write more imaginatively, and to embrace their weird by writing outside of logic.

Alternative Maps for Alternative States & Territories

Wendy C. Ortiz

In this generative workshop, we will map the terrains we’re familiar with, moving from the global to the territorial to state, city, and streets, ending with “the room.” Bursts of short readings, experiments, and writing exercises will serve as springboards to help us define or redefine what we mean by inhabiting space-physically in our lives, as well as metaphorically.

Sound Workshop

Khadijah Queen

Using prompts based on sample poems, in this workshop we will explore sound elements in poetry ranging from the historical absurdism of Dada to contemporary multilingual works employing visual elements. The aim is to infuse a sense of play and possibility into the brief study of the relationship between sound and poetry, and leave the workshop with a diverse set of tools for practical use.

Poetry As Memoir

Steven Reigns

Sometimes one’s entire life story can be told in a poem. Poets, poetry fans, writers, and non-writers are encouraged to share their life stories in this autobiographical poetry workshop. You are not required to be a good speller, good at grammar, or even like poetry. All you need to bring is a pen, paper, and a willingness to try. In the workshop we will make poems out of our memories, crafting personal experience into poetry.

Future Tense: Poetry As Blueprint

Danez Smith

In this workshop, we will explore ways in which we can use poetry to imagine realistic utopias in the not so distant future, and how those futures can allow us to reverse engineer the steps we would need to materialize them. Looking at speculative worlds built intisde tiny poems, this workshop’s goal is to inspire us towards change, possibility, action, dreaming, and building the worlds we deserve.

Note To Self: Poetry, Body Image and Self Love

Yazmin Monet Watkins

In this guided workshop, participants will write poems that celebrate self-love. Exercises deconstruct media representations of beauty and promotes self-confidence and positive body image. Participants will write both collaboratively and individually. Open to all levels, come prepared to grow.

Slam That Poetry: Turning Written Word Into Spoken Word

My Word — HW’s Spoken Word Team

If you want to turn your poems into amazing performance pieces and are interested in performing at the open mic at the end of the festival, come join us – the Harvard-Westlake My Word! Slam Team – for our workshop “Slam That Poetry: Turning Written Word Into Spoken Word”. We’ll review basic mic etiquette, rhythm and performance, and the classic-response Get Lit! format. We’re so looking forward to meeting you guys and hearing your work!


Ok, Poets, Let’s Get Into FORM-ation

F. Douglas Brown

This workshop will discuss approaches of how to incorporate some fairly new forms of poetry (the Bop, Ekphrasis Poems, the Golden Shovel) into a curriculum. How can you use any of the stated poetic forms to help spark not only creativity writing, but also creative ways that integrate research, history, and/or the expansion of language? The idea is use these forms as possible spring boards for student work to dance ON and OFF the page in new and exciting directions. Participants will leave with a packet of poems, possible prompts, and discuss how and where this could work with their current curricular goals.


Ashaki Marie Jackson

Jackson describes her strategies to engage youth in literary craft. Using collaboration, dispersed responsibility and physical engagement in her curricula, she creates lively spaces where students arrive at agreed on deliverables through their preferred methods. Jackson shares how to set rules for the space and examples of the collaborative activities that have yielded the best student writing.