Faculty

abdul ali

Abdul Ali

is the author of Trouble Sleeping, winner of 2014 New Issues Poetry Prize selected by poet Fanny Howe. He was educated at Howard University where he studied American literature and Theater; for graduate school, he earned his M.F.A. in Creative Writing (poetry, nonfiction) at American University. His poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in Gargoyle, Gathering of Tribes, National Public Radio, The Washington Post magazine, New Contrast (South Africa), Academy of American Poets (poets.org), Poetry Foundation, Poet Lore and the anthology, Full Moon on K Street, among other publications. Ali is the recipient of numerous grants, including, most recently the MD State Arts Grant. He has taught writing at
Towson University, Goucher College, Johns Hopkins University, and will join the writing faculty at Howard University this fall.

Experimenting with the Confessional:  So often confessional poems are written to ourselves without opening the lid to let the reader in. Confessional poems can be a dime a dozen. We all write them out of necessity. Many of them are locked in our hard drives afraid to come out into the world. This workshop will provide tools and give participants permission to expand those confessional poems to something robust and to transform them from competent to "necessary utterance". With model poems, provocative prompts, and discussion, we will generate some new work that will hopefully surprise us, which is the goal.


yvette neisser

Yvette Neisser 

is the author of Grip, winner of the 2011 Gival Press Poetry Award. Her translations from Spanish include South Pole/Polo Sur by María Teresa Ogliastri and Difficult Beauty: Selected Poems by Luis Alberto Ambroggio. Her poems, translations, essays, and reviews have appeared in such publications as Foreign Policy in Focus, Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry. She is a longtime activist with Split This Rock, instructor at The Writer’s Center, and founding Board Member of the DC-Area Literary Translators Network (DC-ALT).

Inspired by Nature: This workshop will take advantage of the Retreat Center's beautiful setting to find inspiration for new work. With writing notebooks in arm, we will venture outdoors to discover the "muse" that is always present in nature--the tactile world around us. Like artists doing field study, we will create word-sketches of the images we observe--trees, plants, water, sky, angles of light, bird sounds, etc. Then we will use this material to develop new poems, with the aim of either using the nature images to create meaningful metaphors and/or weaving those images with an emotional experience to create what Marie Howe calls "texture." Bring walking shoes.


kim roberts

Kim Roberts

is the author of five books of poems, most recently The Scientific Method (WordTech Editions, 2017). The title poem from that book was featured at the National March for Science, and is now touring the US through the Wick Poetry Center’s “Traveling Stanzas” initiative. Roberts is the recipient of residency grants from 16 artist colonies, including one sponsored by the Science Museum of Minnesota (where she completed the manuscript for The Scientific Method), and her most recent one at the Luna Parc Atelier in New Jersey.  Roberts edited the anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC (Plan B Press, 2010), and co-edits two literary journals, Beltway Poetry Quarterly and the Delaware Poetry Review. Her book of walking tours, A Literary Guide to Washington, DC from Francis Scott Key to Zora Neale Hurston, is forthcoming from the University of Virginia Press in Spring of 2018. Her website: http://www.kimroberts.org.

The Insectarium: In this workshop, we will narrow our focus, taking a long look at some very small life forms. By writing about insects and spiders, we will practice the skills of close observation, describing with precision, and using specialized vocabulary in our poems. The workshop will begin with a reading of model poems by such master poets as Elizabeth Alexander, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Yusef Komunyakaa, Stanley Kunitz, Natasha Trethewey, and Walt Whitman. After a group discussion, we will have time in class to write first drafts of poems of our own, picking a single insect or spider on which to concentrate, and revealing something about that bug’s appearance or habits.


basil white

Basil White

is a speechwriter, a published joke writer (Judy Brown's Squeaky Clean Comedy:
1,512 Dirt-Free Jokes from the Best Comedians, Comedy Thesaurus, and Larry Getlen's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Jokes), public speaker, and business humor consultant. Basil helps people add humor to presentations, advertising, movie scripts, and user manuals. He also writes articles and online courses on creative technology writing, usability, and information design.
More about him at: www.basilwhite.com.

Cognitive Mechanics of Comedy: If you can read this and you can laugh, you can write humor! Learn to apply the basic psychology of how your brain gets a joke to discover what’s “gettable” about your subject matter, real or fictional, for humor writing or other ironic purposes. Before class, read the handout at basilwhite.com/comedyworkshop and bring questions.

rose solari

Rose Solari

is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, The Last Girl, Orpheus in the Park, and Difficult Weather, the one-act play, Looking for Guenevere, and the novel, A Secret Woman. She has lectured and taught writing workshops at many institutions, including the University of Maryland, College Park; St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland; the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University; and the Centre for Creative Writing at the University of Oxford’s Kellogg College in Oxford, England. In 2010, she cofounded Alan Squire Publishing (ASP), a collaborative indie publishing initiative, with James J. Patterson. Rose’s awards include the Randall Jarrell Poetry Prize, an EMMA award for excellence in journalism, and multiple grants.

Nurturing the Beginners, Honoring the Elders: Building Multi-Generational Poetry Communities: So often we think our generosity to other writers goes only one way, with the more experienced among us helping the newcomers. In this talk, Rose will explore the ways in which healthy writing communities can be webs, not ladders, and share some of her own experiences of nurturing younger poets while also supporting and advancing the work of those who nurtured her.


michael bw

Michael Friend

is the Executive Director/Founder of Soul In Motion Players, Inc. (SIMPINC). Since 1984 SIMPINC has been committed to sharing the richness of the African culture with diverse audiences around the country. SIMPINC studied African Dance and Drum in Dakar Senegal with Bouly Sonko, the former director of Le Ballet National du Senegal. With a grant from The Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery Council, SIMPINC has provided free African Dance and Drumming Classes in the Lincoln Park community of Rockville, MD. As a resident performance company at Joe's Movement Emporium in Mt. Rainier, MD, Soul in Motion was the recipient of the Montgomery County Executive Community Award for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities (2011); The Empower Magazine Player Award (2014); The Joe's Movement Emporium Creative Visionary Award (2016); and The Taratibu Youth Association Anchor Award (2017).