Skip To Content
July 9–July 30, 2021. Lockdown, Write-Out: Turning the Unprecedented into Lyric Poems with Michael Morse is a Course

July 9–July 30, 2021. Lockdown, Write-Out: Turning the Unprecedented into Lyric Poems with Michael Morse

Time limit: 60 days

Sorry! The enrollment period is currently closed. Please check back soon.

Full course description


Lockdown, Write-Out: Turning the Unprecedented into Lyric Poems with Michael Morse

(Four-Week Workshop)


Fridays on Zoom, July 9–July 30, 2021

2:00–4:00 p.m.  Iowa/Central Time

(3:00–5:00 p.m. Eastern; 12:00–2:00 p.m. Pacific; 1:00–3:00 p.m. Mountain)

Fee: $450

Course Description

Among the words that might capture the essence of our last year-and-a-half, unprecedented comes to mind, and this generative workshop for beginners and experienced poets alike will consider that term as a foundation for our work. What does it mean to channel individual and collective experience into a lyric poem? How might some of the traumas of the pandemic echo difficulties and complexities that we’ve harbored and/or experienced before, and what challenges feel new? From what new ground might we survey—and revise—our worlds and our poems as we now know them or even un-know them? How might we revise what we start? Join us for writing & revision inspired by prompts, exercises, and reading, where each new lyric poem takes shape as an act unprecedented—never done or known before.


Each daily session will be preceded by a “pre-game talk” that will be posted on Canvas the Wednesday evening prior to class. These short, informal talks will give us some food-for-thought before we meet together on Friday afternoon; they’ll likely include some thoughts on specific themes that we might have already considered over the last year-and-change (e.g., isolation and contact; habits beneficial and challenging; reconnection with others; experience & imagination, etc.) along with one or two lyric poems to consider ahead of class, poems that will get us thinking about how we can bring our worlds and our writing into the same resonant space.


When we get together, our main focus will be starting drafts of new poems. We’ll have two generative sessions within each class, as follows:


2:00–3:00 p.m.: generative session #1: one or perhaps two prompts to get us playfully on board and writing, where we’ll give ourselves permission to play and tell the editors in our heads to take a break and leave us alone. We’ll have the chance to share, out loud, excerpts of what we’ve generated, and then we’ll discuss how techniques of addition and subtraction can help us further develop and enrich what we’ve already started. 


3:00–4:15 p.m.:  generative session #2: another prompt to help us playfully generate language that we’ll then reconsider after reading and discussing a “model” contemporary poem that we might imitate or borrow from (techniques, language effects, musical strategies), in order to enhance and enrich our own drafts. We’ll end our class with further considerations of how we might tinker with and re-envision our drafts. Michael will linger for an optional 15-minute “wind-down” in case participants have questions, comments, or merely want to chat for a few minutes before heading back to their lives. 


Each writer will have two rough drafts to play with after each class, and writers will be given a few days to tinker and play with their work, which they’ll then submit on Canvas: Michael will then read your submission with care and offer written feedback on what works well and what might benefit from attention.  


Near the end of our four weeks, each poet will have a 30-minute Zoom conference to discuss their work and experience in more detail.


Our willingness to play with and love language will help us move from experiences of quarantine and distance into a space of support and maybe even joy, and we’ll emerge from our shared company and individual work with multiple drafts and revisions of poems as here-and-now markers of our time.



Michael Morse teaches at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York and has taught at The University of Iowa and The New School. His first book, Void and Compensation, was published by Canarium Books and was a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He has published poems in various journals—including A Public SpaceThe American Poetry ReviewFieldThe Iowa Review, and Ploughshares—and in anthologies that include The Best American Poetry 2012 and Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days. Honors include fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, The MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. He received his M.F.A. in Poetry from The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is a poetry editor for The Literary Review.

Registration & Fees

The fee for this course is $450.

Payment in full is required to register.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Class size is limited to 10.

Note: Your credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “UI Writing—Magid Center.”

Refund & Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel your enrollment in a Festival class, please let us know as soon as possible. We can only offer full refunds if you cancel two weeks prior to the start of class. After that, before the start date of class, we can offer a 50% refund. We cannot refund day-of cancellations, and we cannot refund or partially refund tuition once the class has begun.

Terms & Community Policy

The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a community built on an assumption of shared enterprise, in the spirit of mutual respect. We reserve the right to a) revoke the registration of or b) dismiss from the program any person who disrupts the learning/working environment of others. Participants in the Festival are subject to all University of Iowa policies governing conduct in our community, whether online or in person.



Contact the Iowa Summer Writing Festival: Phone: (319) 335-4160.

Our tiny staff is working remotely. If you phone and we miss you, please leave a message!