20 Feb

Tuesdays February 20 and 27, 7:00–9:00PM ET (Eastern Time)

Writing Poetry from the Personal Archive: A Generative Seminar with Jane Huffman


Online (via Zoom)

Registration required:
Online, 2 sessions / $125


Our lives are filled with words and images—emails, text messages, tweets, journals, newspaper clippings, photo albums, family records, letters, postcards, bills. In this course, we will engage with the rich tradition of using “found” materials to create poetry. Students will be challenged to explore and assemble “personal archives” of written and visual materials that are emblematic of their lives, relationships, identities, and histories, and then use these materials as inspiration for new works—or as poetic material themselves. Students will also be encouraged to engage with other outside “archival” materials such as creative and scholarly texts, films, music, and other media.

In the first session, students will be introduced to several poets who work with personal archival materials including Robin Coste Lewis, Don Mee Choi, Deborah Paredez, Mary Helen Callier, Susan Howe, Danielle Badra, and Courtney Faye Taylor. Together, we will explore the various methods these poets use to bring the archive to life, incorporating, among other techniques, “ekphrasis,” diarying, letter-writing, collage, “erasure,” polyvocality, self-citation, visual art, and interviews. (We will define these terms in class.) Students will be given bespoke writing assignments after the first session to support their creation of at least one new poem draft, which they will bring to the second session to share with the class.

In the second session, the group will workshop students’ drafts using a feedback model based on Liz Lerman’s “Critical Response Process,” an approachable, friendly, and productive workshop structure that emphasizes writer participation and requires no previous workshop experience. Students will receive written and spoken feedback from the instructor. Students of all experience levels are welcome.

Jane Huffman’s debut collection, Public Abstract (American Poetry Review, 2023), won the 2023 APR/Honickman First Book Prize. Jane is a doctoral student in English and literary arts at the University of Denver and is an MFA graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is editor-in-chief of Guesthouse, an online literary journal. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, The Nation, Poetry of America. She was a 2019 recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Online at

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