Writing Workshop—Epistolary Poetry: Keeping Touch In and Out of Time

March 5, 2022 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Salem Athenaeum—online
$10 Members/Students; $20 Non-members

Registration is closed. The class is full!

Moderators: Danielle Jones & J.D. Scrimgeour

The epistolary poem is a literary work that utilizes the intimacies and freedoms found in a letter. It allows us to tell a history, and imagine a future; to reveal our truest self, while fashioning our idealized self on the page. And yet, by definition, letter-poems are not free-standing documents, but part of a relationship moving through time, cultivated with care: a correspondence of poems is a way of communicating–deeply, authentically–with someone else. In a time of hot-takes and 280 characters, of self-isolation and social distancing, the epistolary practice is about nuance, sustenance, intimacy.

In this workshop, we’ll spend time looking at epistolary poems, from Emily Dickinson’s envelope poems, to Ross Gay and Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s “Letters From Two Gardens.” We’ll write letter-poems to someone we’d would like to talk to, but can’t—an historical figure, a character from a novel, someone you’ve loved and lost, or maybe a past version of yourself. In the second half of the workshop, we’ll pair up with epistolary partners and start a dialogue that will span two months. Taking material and inspiration from correspondence, we’ll get to know someone else (and ourselves) more fully. Members of the workshop will come together in the spring (fingers crossed, in person) to share excerpts from their epistolary practice.

This class is capped at 12, so sign up soon.


Danielle Jones is Program Director of Mass Poetry. Her work has appeared in Best New PoetsBeloit Poetry Journal, Memorious, Southern Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She is the winner of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a St. Botolph’s Emerging Artist Award, and is a 2022 Mass Cultural Council Fellow.

J.D. Scrimgeour’s most recent book is 香蕉面包 Banana Bread, a bilingual collection of poems. He is the author of five collections of verse and two of nonfiction, including Themes for English B, which won the AWP Award for Nonfiction.


The event will be on Zoom. Event link is sent 30 minutes before program start.

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