Thresholds and Provocations: How to End the Year

I know teachers who teach the same poems, and use the same assignments, year after year. I’ve learned from these teachers, and occasionally envied their enduring commitment to a few, carefully chosen texts, in which they are deeply fluent.

And yet I also resist this way of working myself, mainly because I am happiest and most energized when I teach to my own interests, which continue to evolve as I uncover and pursue new areas of inquiry in my personal creative work.

Furthermore, in order to balance the years of reading so many more male writers, than female, much less poets of color—the outcome of having mainly white male teachers during my formative years—I am actively trying to give myself a broader education, and this translates into what I want to teach, which continues to place me in the position of writing new curricula.


For the last ten years I’ve shared what I’ve found during these reading excursions through my workshops, but especially my online 21 Day Poetry Challenge, which provides four opportunities each year for me to share my current enthusiasms, edges and questions. If I’m learning and writing alongside my students, I believe they will perceive my presence in a helpful way, as together we birth new work within a concentrated period of time.

Time again, writers tell that they feel so much more focused and engaged than when they write on their own, because the frisson of our collective effort empowers all of us, no matter how far apart we may live geographically.

This program has been good for me and for the hundreds of writers who’ve joined me to write for three weeks during the threshold months of December, March, June and September, when there’s either a Solstice or Equinox, and when many of us are naturally drawn to write as a way of crossing between one thing and the next, while also needing practices that ground us as the season shifts, as do our emotional and physical rhythms.

During “21”, I encourage a daily ritual by providing a very brief lesson, a beloved poem, and a writing provocation that actually works, as well as daily coaching to keep the practice alive and on track.

Each session of this program contains entirely new content so that anyone who finds this method helpful, can return each season to find new inspiration.

Some of my students have completed whole manuscripts this way!


This is an invitation to join me next month for the final 21 Day Poetry Challenge of 2017.

What a year it has been! I think I’ve needed poetry this year more than at any other time in my life: To soothe, to stay present, to integrate my pieces, to connect to others, and to imagine the future. So many writers have told me they’ve felt the same way and I’m glad we can gather in this virtual space, to support poetry and poetic ways of being, during a time in our history when I truly believe we need to engage as many  imaginations as possible, and nurture as many everyday rebels as we can find among us.


In preparing the content for this course, I’ve been guided by a line from a Ferlinghetti poem:

I am signaling you through the flames.

That will be our theme next month.

Won’t you join us?

Registration is open until we fill.

Full details are here.

Or go ahead and enroll here.

During the December edition of “21” we’ll read selections from:

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ando, William Stafford, Eileen Myles, Danez Smith, Diane Di Prima, James Longenbach, Warsan Shire, Arthur Sze, Louise Gluck, Ron Padgett, Kim Dower, Ken Mikilowski, Patrick Phillips, Tim Nolan, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Lucille Clifton, Nayyirah Waheed, Rachel McKibbens, Naomi Shihab Nye, and others.

poetry matters. join the conversation.

join my community


poetry matters. join the conversation.

join my community