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Stories Your Collection Can Tell: A Larksong Bootcamp for Poets
Stories Your Collection Can Tell: A Larksong Bootcamp for Poets

Instructor: Amy Haddad
Genre: Poetry
Length: 4 weeks
Dates: Wednesdays, April 3, 10, 17, 24, 2024
Time: 5 to 7 pm
Location: Larksong Writers Place, 1600 N. Cotner Blvd. 


Are you looking to not only consider individual poems, but also look at the sequencing of a collection as a whole? Maybe you’re looking for a workshop for like-minded poets at this stage of their writing who want to be the best they can be, and you want to join them? If any of that is true, a Larksong Bootcamp workshop is for you. The Bootcamps are taught by various teachers and in various genres at various times, so if you can't make one, keep coming back to see if the next one fits your needs.

Don’t be intimidated by the word “bootcamp” – we are MUCH kinder than drill sergeants and exercise class leaders.

Amy Haddad will lead this Larksong Bootcamp for Poets. It is a limited-enrollment workshop open to a maximum of 6 writers who are committed to improving their own writing and are willing to read and respond to the work of the other writers in the workshop.

Led by an experienced writer and teacher, Amy Haddad, this workshop will include discussions of craft and the writing process in ways that matter to each specific writer and go beyond the limits of one poem. The aim will be to create a portion of a potential collection (chapbook or full collection) with an eye toward submission. You will have the opportunity to learn from all the writers in the workshop both in their responses to your work and in the discussions of their work. The goal is not to “fix” anyone’s writing, but to provide illumination about where you are in the process and the direction you may want to go to create a collection.  You will leave the workshop with a clearer understanding of the elements of sequencing a poetry collection and the individual poems that constitute a collection.   

The class will meet 4 times. The first meeting will be an introductory class where each writer will bring four copies of between 10 and 15 pages of poems arranged in the sequence the poems will appear in a collection. Additionally, there will be pre-workshop assignments to assist you in exploring your work as a whole and the way the poems “speak to each other.” You will not share these pre-assignments with the other participants. You will, however, share your 10 to 15 pages of poetry with the other participants in week one. At this first meeting, we will discuss and agree on the ground rules for responding helpfully and kindly and set the reading schedule for the next three weeks. During each of the next three meetings we will focus on two writers’ work (one hour per writer). Each week class members are required to read and write comments on the individual poems and the work as a whole of the scheduled writer and be prepared to discuss it.

Sample Bootcamp Pre-Workshop Assignments:

Week One:

Many potential sequences are contained within a single group of poems. Your pre-workshop task is to uncover the stories your collection can tell. Use the 10 to 15 pages of poems you are going to use for the remainder of the workshop sessions. Print out the pages. Sequence these pages in the following ways:

·      Creating a narrative arc – Look at the titles and last lines of each poem. Place the poems in the order that seem most natural considering transitions from one poem to another.

·      Creating tension – Place your poems in an order that juxtaposes vastly different aspects of your voice. This can mean shifts in themes, tone, form, etc.

·      Allowing for formal shifts – Start with a poem that seems a natural opening for this group of poems. Then follow it with a formal shift, such as starting a sonnet, then presenting something in fragments. This is just an example, and you’ll need to consider the types of forms you use to tell your story.

Amy Haddad, PhD, MSN, MFA, FAAN has educated nurses and pharmacists at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska since 1988 where she also held the Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Endowed Chair in the Health Sciences. In addition, Amy served as Director of the Center for Health Policy and Ethics at Creighton University from 2005 – 2018 and now holds the rank of Professor Emerita. She was selected in 2001 to be part of the Pew National Fellowship Program for Carnegie Scholars, studying the impact of patient simulations on health professional learning. She has also been a pioneer in the use of poetry, creative prose and narrative writing as approaches to teaching healthcare ethics.

Amy is the 2019 recipient of the Annals of Internal Medicine poetry prize for “Families Like This” for the best poem published in the journal. She won third-place for the 2019 Kalanithi Writing Awards from Stanford University for her poem “Dark Rides.” Her chapbook, “The Geography of Kitchens,” was published by Finishing Line Press in 2021. Her first poetry collection, “An Otherwise Healthy Woman,” was published by Backwaters Press, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press in early 2022. “An Otherwise Healthy Woman” was awarded twice in the 2022 AJN Book of the Year Awards: first place in the Creative Works Category and second place in the Professional Issues Category.


Larksong is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are committed to supporting both the writers who come to us for instruction and the writers who come to us to teach. We keep our class fees low, offer free programming, and pay our instructors. Please consider supporting our mission by making a tax-deductible donation.