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Poetry Workshops Kick Off with Saturday ‘Meet and Greet’

Poet Jodie Hollander will conduct poetry workshops Nov. 14-19. (Photo from Jodie Hollander’s website)

Visiting poet Jodie Hollander from Fort Collins, Colorado, will kick off a week of workshops on Saturday with a meet and greet at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in Frederiksted.

Hollander, an internationally known poet and the museum’s artist-in-residence, will acquaint the community with readings of her work at Saturday’s gathering, which begins at 6 p.m. at the museum.

The three workshops, which also will be held at the Frederiksted museum, are:

– “Telling Your Story Through Poetry,” 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15: A free workshop in poetry and storytelling for high school-aged students.

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In this workshop, participants will look at the narrative art of storytelling and how to effectively channel their experiences into powerful poetry. Then, through a series of writing prompts, Hollander will lead the students in examining their own narratives, which they will turn into poems. Tempo, pacing and the use of line breaks will be considered.

– “Ekphrastic Poetry for Adults,” 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17: This workshop encourages the participants to experience art at a new level and use it to inspire their writing. Participants will respond poetically through exhibitions at the museum. They will study examples of celebrated poems that respond to or were inspired by art. Participants will be led through a variety of writing activities inspired by art in the museum. Poetic techniques will be discussed: the use of vivid imagery, the importance of sonics, how to shape a poetic line and techniques for drafting and revision.

Registration costs $50 per person.

– “Poetry of Grief and Healing,” 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19: This workshop will serve as a healing for hurt, pain and grief. For centuries, creating art and writing poetry, in particular, has helped in channeling pain, organizers said. Participants will study and discuss examples of celebrated poems that tackle these difficult topics and discuss effective techniques for channeling. Through a series of writing prompts, participants will examine their own experiences and turn them into poems.

Tempo, pacing and crafting an ear-pleasing line of poetry will also be offered. This workshop is for those who are interested in the power of poetry to heal their wounds.

Registration fees will be $50 per person.

Information on registering for the workshops or the meet and greet is on the museum’s website.

The workshops will be led by Hollander, who said she has found a way to bring poetry to more people through her workshops.

Sharing poems speaks to our humanity, she said.

“I am really happy to be here on St. Croix, and I am grateful to the museum for having me come out,” Hollander said.

She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship in South Africa, a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant in Italy and a Hawthornden Fellowship in Scotland.

“I always wanted to be a poet,” Hollander said. “It was my desire throughout high school and college.”

Hollander taught high school English for 10 years, exposing her students to lots of poetry and creative writing, she said.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with my students, but I knew it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t stand the idea that I wasn’t a writer and was not enjoying writing poetry.”

Hollander said she applied for a master’s degree program in fine arts in poetry, but was not accepted.

“I really wanted the opportunity to see where I could go with my writing.”

She cried every day with the disappointment that she wasn’t a writer, she said.

Hollander said she then applied to Bath Spa University for a poetry intensive master’s degree in England. She was accepted, earned her degree and returned to the U.S.

Hollander said she began working at poetry pretty seriously and started to get her work published. She traveled around Colorado and led workshops and held readings and talks and everything fell into place.

“This is my living,” Hollander said. She said she’s fortunate to be married to a super supportive husband, because it would be hard to make a living at her craft, especially in the time of COVID.

Hollander teaches poetry both in-person and online for the Poetry School, an international poetry organization in London.

“I know that being here on St. Croix will offer endless ideas of inspiration for writing. I’ll be writing a lot of poems here. It’s a beautiful and friendly place and super interesting,” she said.

She teaches workshops for children as young as six years old, she said.

“Poetry is for everyone. As long as you can write and read, you can write and enjoy poetry,” she said.

People who think they might not be interested in poetry but are into visual arts might want to try out for the Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop.

“It would be great to bring non-poets in the door and see them enjoy writing poetry,” Hollander said.

“Fiction writers give themselves a deadline for completion. For me, when something is ready to be said, I’ll know. If I force myself to do something, it could ruin a budding idea.”

“I sort of think of it as a plant or a flower coming up from under the soil. When it comes up, it’s ready. If it’s not ready, it won’t come up.”

Hollander will share her writings at the “Meet and Greet” Saturday with readings from “My Dark Horses,” her book of poetry, published by Oxford University Press and Liverpool University Press in 2017.

A second book by Hollander is due out in Spring 2022.

Her website is www.jodiehollander.com.

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