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2014 Poetry Seminar Director: Patrick Donnelly

Patrick Donnelly

Patrick Donnelly, director of The Frost Place Poetry Seminar, is the author of The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003, since 2009 part of Copper Canyon Press) and Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin (Four Way Books, 2012), the latter book a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. In 2013 he received a U.S./Japan Creative Artists Program award, to fund a 3-month residency in Japan during 2014. Donnelly is a current associate editor of Poetry International, a contributing editor of Trans-Portal , and a former associate editor (1999 – 2009) at Four Way Books. He has taught at Smith College, Colby College, the Lesley University MFA Program, The Frost Place, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and elsewhere. He was a 2008 recipient of an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and of the 2004 Margaret Bridgman Fellowship in Poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. His poetry has appeared in many journals, including American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The Yale Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. He lives in Western Massachusetts with his spouse Stephen D. Miller, with whom he translates classical Japanese poetry and drama. Donnelly and Miller’s translations are included in The Wind from Vulture Peak: The Buddhification of Japanese Waka in the Heian Period (Cornell East Asia Series, 2013). Their translations have also appeared in many journals, including Bateau, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Circumference, The Drunken Boat, eXchanges, Kyoto Journal, Metamorphoses, New Plains Review, and Noon: The Journal of the Short Poem.

Teaching Statement:  At The Frost Place we have the luxury to have a deep and intimate conversation about poems over five and a half days, and this experience of community can be like jumper cables applied for writers who need the juice of that connection. I see my role as two-fold: firstly, to inspire participants to full-out engagement with their writing lives over the long term, in part by strategizing with them about removing whatever obstacles prevent that. Secondly, during workshop, it’s my job to describe the strengths and weaknesses of poems in ways that will help participants strategize about re-entering and fully realizing that work, as well as to generate new work. I ask participants to respond to each other’s work the same way, especially by coming to the Seminar thoroughly prepared to discuss the workshop poems.

In my workshop, and at the Seminar as a whole, we have a good time, we get silly, we laugh, we enjoy each other’s company, the beauty of the White Mountains, and Robert Frost’s tailwind. But we also gather, as peers at different levels, to do serious work and to give each participants the close, honest, generous readings they may not have access to elsewhere. Sometimes poets working with me for the first time are a little caught off guard by the rigor of my workshop, and by the frankness of a discussion which, while it’s always respectful and kind, isn’t limited to praise for what’s working well about the poems. Let’s be honest: it’s never completely comfortable, is it, to receive feedback about our poems? So it’s also my job to give participants the encouragement necessary to stay engaged with a process that is often enjoyable but which is also real work, in the most satisfying and transformative sense.  It’s always my goal to send participants home with new and sharpened craft tools, blown away by the possibilities suggested by encounters with poems new to them, and most of all charged up to work on their own poems.

Poetry Reading: August 4, 8:00 PM at The Frost Place

Date: February 05, 2013