manuscript incubator for poets
you’ve accumulated a file of finished or nearly-finished poems
for your body of work
worthy of a wider readership
this immersive course offers commited poets a structure & a process
to turn individual poems into a polished manuscript
your willingness, raw talent, pages in progress
my 20+ years of reviewing, editing, shaping collections, & publishing poetry
a chapbook-length collection to take pride in
you are a poet. you are ready
I’ve designed this ten-week course to provide you with structure, creative community, and accountability during the demanding & exciting process of creating a chapbook manuscript (10-30 poems) or portfolio, whether you wish to submit your work for publication, apply to graduate school, or learn how books are built while tending to your own poems. we will also talk about traditional versus self-publishing pathways.
this course takes place in an online classroom, hosted by Pathwright, where we can freely interact, discuss the course content, and share our work in progress.
as your facilitator, I’ll provide resources and instruction, ask powerful questions, push the work where it needs to go further, & help you find an appropriate form for your body of work.
we’ll identify your best poems, & those yet to be written, & consider how to assemble them into something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
twice during the session, I’ll read your work for what unifies it aesthetically, thematically, conceptually, or otherwise, & provide feedback on individual poems. you will also swap your manuscript with a peer.
I’ll address your specific questions and concerns during live video workshops & in 1×1 conferences.
with the support of helpful essays, writing exercises & conversations about how other books of poems are constructed, we’ll achieve a clearer understanding of what’s possible with your poems, and how they can become a collection.
this once-per-year course is limited to no more than ten participants so your work will receive my full attention.
If you are unsure if ABOW is the right thing at the right time, please get in touch via my contact page. While I don’t require an application, I like to make sure that all participants are ready and willing to undertake a process that is necessarily deep and designed for committed writers who have already completed many or all of the poems that will become their manuscript.
“Holly’s help has been invaluable. Her insightful, incisive comments have challenged and guided me to do better—then best.” –Karen Anderson
gather your poems. allow me to help you see the ones that have the most potential for a manuscript.
prepare to commit time to the lessons, exercises, reading, & deep revision process.
show up with the rest of our cohort to the live video workshops for discussions, Q & A, & to share from your work in progress
meet with me privately to discuss your work.
read other poetry collections of your choice, to better understand how they are made.
swap work with one other poet in our group for peer feedback.
enjoy the sense of completion when you’ve assembled a working manuscript to continue polishing outside the course.
“In working with Holly, I have learned to push the edges of my imagination and creativity. I deeply appreciate her unique ability to bring people together for synergistic sharing of self, poetry, life.” –Melissa Fournier
q & a
Are there any prerequisites for participation in this course?
You should have a minimum of 15 strong poems or pieces before enrolling in this course, however the more work you have to choose from, the more fun it will be to craft your manuscript. Early in the session, I will invite you to show me up to 50 poems-in-progress, and I will help you determine which will make the best body of work.
What if the poems are still in draft form?
That’s fine. You will receive feedback along the way—from me and from one peer—and there’s time built into our schedule for revision. Don’t wait until you’ve perfected your poems as our process leaves plenty of room for you to do that along the way, and we revise a little differently, when thinking in terms of a collection.
What if I want to do this course for myself, and I’m not currently interested in pursuing publication?
You are welcome to join ABOW us as long as you are committed to doing your best work, and will enjoy the process of shaping and revising your collection. Traditional publication is not the only path, and I am here to offer other ways to make your work real in the world.
What if I have no sense of whether my poems are worth putting into a collection?
During our first month together I will review your work and make recommendations as to which poems are strongest and make the most sense as a body of work. This will yield a first draft on which to focus your revision efforts.
What if I haven’t written many poems yet, but I have a clear idea for a book I’d like to write?
I encourage you to write those poems before enrolling in ABOW; if you need support in that process, you might benefit from a generative course such as “21” and the Poetry Immersion program, which provide pathways to new work.
What if I have questions along the way?
I will be active in the discussions within our online learning space, answering questions and engaging with you and the materials. Our cohort will meet periodically for live webinars, and you are entitled to meet with me 1×1 each month for private tutorials. If you wish to book additional coaching sessions, you may do so for an additional fee.
How often do you offer this course?
I teach A Body of Work once each year in winter, which is an ideal time to do deep and sustained creative work.
How much time will I want to give to this course each week?
You’ll get the best results if you can commit at least 3 hours each week, with most of that time focused on your own writing and revision. I will also give brief reading assignments, and offer writing exercises along the way. Very often participants find that as we get further into the session, and their manuscript begins to take clear shape, it’s natural and enjoyable to spend even more time on the work. This is an intensive course and I strongly recommend that you plan your schedule with that in mind.
What kinds of support do you offer around the publishing process itself?
We will cover publishing pathways later in the course, and I will provide you with my curated list of notable and respected publishers of chapbooks. I will also guide you in the steps necessary to prepare your manuscript for eventual submission.
What kind of technology is required to participate in A Body of Work?
Our online classroom is hosted by Pathwright, which provides an intuitive learning environment and private space in which to gather. You will be given an orientation at the beginning of the course. Our live workshops will take place using Zoom, a free video conferencing app that you can download on your phone or desktop computer. As long as you have weekly access to the internet—whether at home, in a public library, or elsewhere—you should be able to keep up with the course.
Do I need to show up at specific times during this course?
Each week a new module unlocks, and you can do the work on your own time—much like an independent study. We will meet for occasional live video workshops along the way, and you also have the option of meeting me in Office Hours, via phone or video, as you prefer.
All live classes are recorded for viewing later, in case you have to miss them for some reason.
Likewise, assignment prompts can be downloaded and printed, and are yours to keep.
Do you offer any flexibility around payment for this course?
Upon request, I can offer a simple payment plan. I require a deposit at registration, with the full balance due at least one week before the course begins. Please contact me to arrange this. I’m always happy to work with writers to make this program doable.
I was hoping to do this course with a writing partner. Do you offer discounts if we enroll together?
Those who do this course with a friend seem to find it that much more stimulating! Just send me a note and I will provide you with a discount code to save $50 each on tuition. Just ask!
I’ve taken ABOW before, and I’d like to take it again. Is that advisable?
Sure! My suggestion is that you bring new poems so that we can work toward a second manuscript. I can offer a discount on tuition, too. Use promo code ABOWVETERAN when you register to save $175 on tuition.
“ABOW was truly transformational. Holly is a rare teacher, an exceptional midwife for helping poets birth a manuscript. The course is hard work, but if one is willing to put the work and follow the carefully thought-out steps, the reward of seeing a polished manuscript, and the knowledge of how to put one together is invaluable. A great combination of smart, thoughtful, instinctual and encouraging steps towards completing a manuscript and completing your own best personal work. Highly recommend!” Hilde K., 2018 participant