How Poems Begin

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Poets and poems are often remembered for their opening lines, but is there a “right” or at least a “better” way to begin a poem? In this workshop, participants will explore some of the ways in which poets have traditionally chosen to open their poems and then look at some poems that break with tradition and still manage to draw the reader in.

About Sue Ellen Thompson

Sue Ellen Thompson the author of five books of poetry, including This Body of SilkTheyThe Golden Hour, and The Leaving: New and Selected Poems, as well as other publications. She is also the editor of The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry. Her work has been included in the Best American Poetry series, read on NPR by Garrison Keillor, and featured in U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s nationally-syndicated newspaper column. She taught at Wesleyan University, Middlebury College, State University of New York at Binghamton, and Central Connecticut State University before moving to the Eastern Shore in 2006. She was awarded the 2010 Maryland Author Prize from the Maryland Library Association. More about her at:

Teaching style: Sue Ellen is serious about craft. As a result, she tends to be very organized in her approach to teaching a workshop and averse to letting the discussion wander off-target. I am very serious about craft--what I can teach adult students that will help them write better poems. As a result, I tend to be very organized in my approach to teaching a workshop and averse to letting the discussion wander off-target. Many poets, even those with graduate degrees, lack formal education in areas such as metaphor, line breaks, revision, tone, syntax, and organizing a manuscript. Her goal is to fill in the gaps and give poets the tools they need to writing moving, well-crafted poems.


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