Festival Schedule


Our 8th biennial festival, with readings, conversations and workshops, will be held May 15-18 in the historic town of La Conner, Washington.


Poets Table Dinner   May 15, 5:30-7:30 Maple Hall    Enjoy a sumptuous dinner of local cuisine and Washington wines while visiting with festival poets at your table.

An Evening with Sherman Alexie and Tom Robbins  May 15, 8:00-10:00, La Conner Elementary School Gym    Kick off the four day festival with two of the Northwest’s most lyrical, literary rock stars, Sherman Alexie (“The Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven”) and Tom Robbins (“Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”) who will swap wit, wordplay, and wild wisdom together on opening night.   Moderated by former Seattle PI entertainment reporter, ML Lyke.

Visual Art, Poetry & Music~ Live painting with Fritha Strand during the Friday and Saturday Night Samplers     Paintings auctioned after the Sampler each evening to benefit SRPF

Festival After Hours: Join the Jefferson Rose Band and Festival poets for an after hours poetry and music jam, Saturday, May 17 after the poetry sampler.   La Conner Pub and Eatery, 9:30-Midnight


Friday, May 16, 2014

2:00- 4:30, $60/workshop; 2 for $100

How to register?   Email executive director, Molly McNulty at  directorsrpp@gmail.com These three-hour workshops must have at least five participants to be offered.  McNulty will take your reservation and contact you when the minimum has been reached and collect your fee.

Lorraine Ferra: Walking Papers.  Footnotes for Writing

In this workshop we will delve into the practice and importance of getting outside, observing our surroundings, and keeping a notebook as a necessary tool for storing images from our inner and outer landscapes. A portion of our time will be spent walking outside separately and gathering notes, then returning to pursue strategies for writing. We will share our writing and offer comments on each other’s work, our goal being to leave this workshop with a solid draft of a poem or two in the making.

Charles Goodrich: Not in Line — The Art of the Prose Poem

The line is the most recognizable element of poetry. Why on Earth would anyone want to dispense with it? Some would insist that trying to write poems without lineation is simply perverse. But there are so many fine contemporary poets who sometimes work in the prose poem, and some—Gary Young, Louis Jenkins, and David Shumate come to mind—who write prose poems almost exclusively. What are some of the charms and the pitfalls, the strategies and devices of writing the prose poem? In this workshop, we’ll take a brief tour of the history of the prose poem, look at some contemporary masters, then try our hand at composing


Sunday, May 18, 2014, $60/workshop; 2 for $100

The three-hour workshops feature festival poets Jane Alynn, Roberto Ascalon, Oliver de la Paz, Kelly Davio, Blas Falconer, Matt Gano, Paul Hunter, Evelyn Lau, Tim McNulty,  Derek Sheffield, Elizabeth Woody, and Kevin Craft.

How to register?   Email executive director, Molly McNulty at  directorsrpp@gmail.com These three-hour workshops must have at least five participants to be offered.  McNulty will take your reservation and contact you when the minimum has been reached and collect your fee.  Sign up for two workshops and save $20.

Workshops are limited to 20 participants. Locations for the workshops will be announced prior to the festival.


Session 1, 9 a.m.-noon, May 18

Jane Alynn: Ekphrastic Poetry

In this workshop ekphrasis, a verbal response to the visual or sculptural arts, will provide the spark for good seeing and good poetry, as participants imaginatively enter into the artwork to create an embodied response. Participants will discuss examples of ekphrastic poems, do in-class writing, and visit a museum to respond in language to works of art seen from a stance of entering its frame and space and becoming its textures, gestures, moods, and memories.  Please bring writing materials to the workshop


Oliver de la Paz: Singular Obsessions: Invigorating our writing

Through a series of prompts, exercises, and examples I will demonstrate ways writers can reinvigorate their own writing by looking closer at singular obsessions. We will find the secret door to our experience and open it.  Perhaps it’s a door you’ve passed everyday and were afraid to open.  Perhaps it’s an empty storefront you’ve seen as you’ve driven through your neighborhood.  You’ve imagined yourself opening that door.  You’ve seen yourself taking a step and walking in and that image of yourself in relation to that door has obsessed you.  We will not be looking for ways out, but for ways in.


Blas Falconer: Finishing your poem: When is it complete?

During a recent Q&A, Brazilian poet Adélia Prado was asked how she knows when her poems are finished. Her answer (translated from Portuguese) was: “When they are better than I am.” A poem often falls short because the poet decides that the poem is finished before it is fully realized. In this workshop, we will look closely at poems that resist the easy out and challenge our expectations as readers. Through this lens, we will turn to some of your poems to consider if, why, and how you closed the poem too soon, and how you might push yourself to the very edge of your own limitations. Open to students of all levels. Please bring a copy of one of your poems.


Matt Gano: Finding the Flow

Early 20th century approaches to writing brought us the exploration and dream language of the Surrealists. Automatic writing, or writing without censorship, opens new landscapes and possibilities for creative expression. Much in the vein of these writers, this workshop will focus on liberating the imagination, freeing language, and expanding your voice. We will explore the concept of automatic writing and discuss the merit of being in the moment and finding your flow.  This workshop is open to writers of all abilities. Please bring writing materials.


Paul Hunter: Putting Up with Nature Preserves

In this workshop we will examine the strategies of past poets, how they made use of nature and all but owned it, forming habits of heart and mind that are still with us today.  Environmental problems, food concerns, the pace of global climate change—these dense thickets may leave the concerned poet nowhere to stand, nowhere to perch, much less sing.  But there may be hope in the practice of poetry, in cultivating what Keats termed Negative Capability, being present as if absent, quieting the self to let things outside and beyond us have their say.  We will brainstorm and in writing exercises explore several new ways to help the world find its way out of the current dilemmas, where humans seem to be trampling nature while loving it to death.


Evelyn Lau: The Poet Doctor is In!

Lau, the Poet Laureate of Vancouver, B.C., is offering individual consultations for writers. Sign up for a 20-minute intensive individual critique of one of your poems.  Lau will give you feedback in this safe and productive session and provide tips to put the final touches on a poem.   Poems must be submitted to Lau one week prior to the workshop. This workshop is limited to eight.


Tim McNulty: Coaxing Poems from Nature

Join naturalist and poet Tim McNulty for a three-hour workshop that will combine venturing outdoors with field journals and writing poems based on observation and engagement with the natural world.  Participants will spend a little time indoors.  We’ll look closely at some poems drawn from the natural world, discuss working from field journals, and then venture out with journals in hand. We’ll record observations, impressions and images, and we’ll try an exercise that will coax our rough notes into a poem.  If time allows, we’ll share our works-in-progress.  Bring a notebook or journal — and dress for unexpected weather.

Elizabeth Woody~Triggers, Investing and Lineage

Learning our language often means immersion in oral traditions of our families. Our living literature develops you ear, shows how sight and smell triggers significant memory, memory buoys imagination. Poets carry on in communities as language artists who live on the intellectual level as well as the gut level. We will explore some exercises and exchanges in the class as writing from a common every day level, to the sharpening up of the poem as it reaches the page. Please bring writing instruments, paper, and a good story.





Session 2, 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

Roberto Ascalon: Towards an Impure Poetry: Writing from the Body  

 Some say that the body and the poem are one and the same.  How do poets reconcile what we are with what we create? How can we craft poems that arise out of the richness of blood, bone and gristle?   We will read and write visceral poems that revel in the stuff of the body. “What should be plump and firm, resisting the touch to give itself in the mouth, is spongy and blistered” — Jeannette Winterson, Written From the Body


Kelly Davio: Metaphysical Poems, Contemporary Poets

The metaphysical period of poetry may have officially ended in the seventeenth century, but there is still room in the literary landscape for the poetics of devotion and doubt, of intellectual challenge and spiritual questioning. In this workshop, we will examine contemporary examples of the metaphysical tradition across religious lines, and explore the ways in which we, as working poets with a wide range of backgrounds, can explore personal conviction in the public context of poetry



Derek Sheffield: List, O, List the Minor Characters and Unnamed Things, Like, Right Now!

In this encounter with language, we will use poems by Pattiann Rogers, William Stafford, Allen Braden, Christian Wiman, and A.E. Stallings as triggers for our own new work. We will use the energy and attentiveness inspired by the festival to generate as much new work as possible in the time we have. Attendees will need writing materials and must be prepared to experience plenty of onomatopoeia and perhaps even a snippet of synecdoche.


Emily Warn: Crazy Making

Poems like to rebel. If you let them get away and stand on their own, you can discover new ways to create form and meaning. In this workshop, we’ll look at common beliefs about how a poem “means” and then how to identify its accidental turns and meaningful gaps. By the end of the workshop, you’ll see how crazy it is to bestow meaning on poems without their assent. Please bring a really recent poem, one that you have not revised too much.  Open to anyone who has written some poems.


Kevin Craft: Reading the Inarticulate –Publishing Tips from the Editor of Poetry NW

In his seminal essay “Feeling Into Words,” Seamus Heaney describes poetic technique as “the discovery of ways to go out of … normal cognitive bounds and raid the inarticulate.” Indeed, much vibrant poetry exists in the tension between expectation and surprise, oscillating bewteen the inevitable and the ineffable. In this workshop, we’ll explore various practical approaches and methods for “gleaning the unsaid off the palpable” (Heaney’s phrase again), for wresting the unexpected out of thin air and onto the page.   We will also discuss the ins and outs of preparing work for publication, and cover tips and best practices when shopping your work around.