The University of Iowa

Write Your Love Poems: A Week-long Exploration of Eros on the Page

Weeklong July 12 to July 17 2020

“I would like to watch you sleeping, which may not happen.”

“My heart has made its mind up, and I’m afraid it’s you…”

“I will come out to meet you, as far as Cho-fu-sa.”

“Real events don’t have endings. / Only the stories about them do.”


Welcome, writers! Margaret Atwood, Wendy Cope, Li Po, and James Galvin are among the poets whose carefully crafted work we will read together as we explore possibilities for the strengthening of three of your love poems. Throughout this workshop we will consider the effects of tone, imagery, form, and a range of literary devices with the intention of articulating (1) what makes a given love poem strong and (2) how the poem might be refined.


A feast of Petrarch, Elytis, Neruda, Merwin, Wyatt, Surrey, “Anon,” Bei Dao, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Richard Brautigan, Traci Brimhall, Marvin Bell, Albert Goldbarth, and other poets will sustain us as we delight in the various manifestations of love on the page. In addition to three love poems submitted early for discussion, participants are invited to send a selection of up to nine pages of their most finished poetry (not necessarily love poems) three weeks before the first meeting. My familiarity with your voice prior to this gathering ensures a greater interpersonal weave of material during our time together and makes for a more rich one-on-one conference.


All voices are welcome. This will be a supportive, dynamic environment. Class time primarily will be devoted to the workshopping of poems submitted early and to the consideration of overlapping work from history (as relevant to the poem at hand), but a range of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious exercises also will be a meaningful part of our experience. The sharing of work generated during exercises is always optional.


The most wonderful workshops I have taught have succeeded in part because of the enthusiastic participation of all. Come ready to read the poems of other members of our group with focus, and to engage wholeheartedly with the course texts; and come ready to respond succinctly with the specificity and interpersonal largesse that you would value receiving. Goals for the week include the refinement of three existing poems in terms of each participant’s aesthetic; the shaping of at least two works generated in Iowa City into drafts of new poems; and a general sense of direction for strengthening your future work after the love poem experience.


In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments; provide feedback on writing you produce in our week.

Hybrid Forms