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“Fitted to the Matter”: Turning to Verse, Turning to Prose (POSTPONED FROM NOVEMBER TO MAY)

May 2, 2014 @ 9:00 am - May 4, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

Call 508-754-6538 to Register

Dawn Potter 2012

After he had faced the bitter fact that he was to leave the Aeneid unfinished, and had decreed that the great canvas, crowded with figures of gods and men, should be burned rather than survive him unperfected, then [Virgil’s] mind must have gone back to the perfect utterance of the Georgics, where the pen was fitted to the matter as the plough to the furrow; and he must have said to himself, with the thankfulness of a good man, “I was the first to bring the Muse into my country.”

–Willa Cather, My Antonia

In this two-day workshop, we’ll explore the shifting creative force that urges a writer at one moment toward verse, at another toward prose. As we study a number of varied pieces, we’ll consider how a writer chooses which route to follow and discuss what particular triggers we as individuals must learn to become aware of in ourselves.

We will be writing new pieces during this workshop, so please bring along whatever writing materials make you happiest.

Suggested Prereading

William Shakespeare, Richard III, opening soliloquy (“Now is the winter of my discontent. . . . ”)

Willa Cather, My Antonia

John Berger, “The Hour of Poetry” (in A Poet’s Sourcebook: Writings about Poetry, from the Ancient World to the Present, ed. Dawn Potter)

Philip Lopate, introduction (in The Art of the Personal Essay, ed. Philip Lopate)

Dawn Potter directs the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching, held each summer at Robert Frost’s home in Franconia, New Hampshire. She is the author of two collections of poetry, with a third, Same Old Story, forthcoming in 2014. Dawn’s memoir, Tracing Paradise: Two Years in Harmony with John Milton (University of Massachusetts Press, 2009), won the 2010 Maine Literary Award in Nonfiction. Her most recent book is an anthology, A Poet’s Sourcebook: Writings about Poetry, from the Ancient World to the Present (Autumn House Press, 2013). In addition to writing, Dawn sings and plays fiddle with the acoustic band String Field Theory. She lives in Harmony, Maine, with photographer Thomas Birtwistle and their two sons.


To Register: call 508 757-3375 or email barredowlretreat@gmail.com.


May 2, 2014 @ 9:00 am
May 4, 2014 @ 3:00 pm


Jess Robert
508 757-3375