Ways In: A Generative Workshop

with Rachel Basch
March 25-26, 2017, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day
Location: 27 Gelding Hill Road, Sandy Hook, CT

Writing to prompts from literature connects us to our imaginations in ways that are at once identifiable and uncanny. In the generative workshops we've taught, we've witnessed how writers are granted access to previously hidden sources of their own creativity. At the same time, we've come to recognize that there is a real hunger for substantive, penetrating discussions of literature, both classic and contemporary. Deep reading can lead to truly surprising creative writing. And in these two days, we plan to read, respond and, above all, to create.

See the flyer for more details.

Being with Poets: Emily Dickinson

April 22-23, 2017, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day
Location: 131 Florence Road, Florence, MA 01062 (near Northampton)


May 20-21, 2017, 10:00 to 4:00 each day
Location: 245 Dug Hill Road Hurley, NY 12443 (near Woodstock)

$350 (lunch included)
Limited to six participants: first come, first served
To register, contact:

There are few poets who leap as much from line to line as Emily Dickinson. To explore Dickinson’s poetry properly, it helps to participate in that leaping sense as much as possible. Accordingly, when I discuss a Dickinson poem, I do it line by line, that is to say I dictate the first line of the poem and we stop there and talk about what’s occurring in that line. Then I dictate the second line and we talk about what’s occurring in that line and how it relates to the first line. We don’t read the whole poem beforehand. We move through the poem very gradually—line by line—and build up a sense of what Dickinson is doing. We talk about word choices, pronouns, rhymes, rhythm, but we do it experientially as we accrue one line after another.

Dickinson’s energy is American in the sense that Jackson Pollack and John Coltrane, to name two artists, are American. Her poems have an improvisational quality, a feeling for the moment, and a very special fearlessness. She is making poetry her own in the way that Pollock made painting his own or Coltrane made jazz his own. She has to do that in order to come to her own conclusions, however provisional those conclusions may be. The sheer wealth of poems shows an incredible formal imagination: someone who could work within modest confines—the quatrain—but keep finding new paths of expressiveness.

In the course of two days we may do no more than a half-dozen of her poems. What we will be doing, however, is a thorough reading in a way that shows how much is there. To do that is, in my experience, breathtaking.

Here is what one recent Dickinson workshop participant had to say: “The experience of reading a poem in Baron Wormser’s Emily Dickinson workshop is an encounter.  Something like receiving a letter from the poet herself – to be opened with exquisite care, every line cherished, each word unfolding in our minds and penetrating our spirits.  I came away feeling this is the only way to appreciate the dazzling ferocity of Dickinson's vision.  It will change the way you read poetry.”

Being with Poets: Theodore Roethke

with Jeanne Marie Beaumont
June 3–4, 2017, 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: 120 West 70th Street, Apt. 2-D, New York City

$350 (lunch included)
Limited to six participants: first come, first served
To register, contact:

One of the most haunting voices in twentieth-century American poetry is that of Theodore Roethke’s. Beyond a typically cited anthology piece such as “My Papa’s Waltz,” Roethke created a body of work that mirrors his perpetual seeking while honoring the praise song at the root of lyric poetry. Roethke is profoundly a poet of the natural world, of the seasons and the elements. All his poetry is a search for the depth of feeling—be it rapture or despair—available to us and within us. At the same time, as in “My Papa’s Waltz,” Roethke is open to the sheer oddness of life’s moments and the surprises those moments afford us. His poetry shows a passionate engagement with technique—line, rhyme, stanza, for instance—that played out in ever-changing ways over the course of his career. These two days will provide a rare opportunity to look closely at some poems by a poet who lived in poem after poem on the very edge of time.

Essay and Memoir: Conversations and Practice—Virginia Woolf

with Kim Dana Kupperman
April 8-9 2017, 9:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Greenwich Village, New York City

Limited to seven participants: first come, first served
To register, contact:

Our conversation during this April weekend workshop will focus on several of Virginia Woolf’s autobiographical essays collected in the volume Moments of Being. We will pay particular attention to the rhythms and movements of sentences and other particulars of style. Excerpts from these essays will serve as prompts for participants to write their own work. We have found that engaged attention on a particular reading results in writing informed by discovery. Because the number of participants is limited, an intimate environment is created, guaranteeing each person an opportunity to speak, write, and be heard.

Interlochen Writers Retreat and Practicum

Friday, June 12-16, 2017

Baron is on the faculty for the Interlochen College of Creative Arts Writers Retreat and Practicum. Click here for more information.

Opening the Doors of Poetry:
a Weeklong Generative Workshop

June 26 – 30, 2017 and August 7 – 11, 2017
Location: Montpelier, Vermont at Baron Wormser’s house

Over the course of decades I have taught many dozens of workshops and have developed a sense, both practical and intuitive, about the value of using prompts as a springboard into writing. The notion is Buddhist and reminiscent of koans: be in the moment and respond to what occurs in the moment. There is nothing to plan and very definitely nothing to worry about. Each participant starts afresh with each piece of writing in search of new ways through the thicket of the self and welter of the world.

See the flyer for more details.

Forthcoming: Tom o’ Vietnam

In the fall of 2017 New Rivers Press will publish Baron Wormser’s fifteenth book, a novel entitled Tom o’ Vietnam that traces the travels of a Vietnam vet in the fall of 1982. Tom o’Vietnam is a very American road novel but also a disquisition about and investigation of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Like Tom o’ Bedlam, Tom is hiding out, “impersonating a person,” as he puts it. Tom o’ Vietnam blends poetry, history and dark wit as it bears witness to the depths of eloquence and grief, anger and endurance.

A Writing House

Offerings for 2016  and 2017 are now online. Events include discussion groups that focus on a particular poet or writer, revision workshops, and generative workshops where people write new work. Join Baron at his home in Montpelier (and elsewhere) for writing study. Recent workshops have focused on James Baldwin, Emily Dickinson, Dante, Jane Kenyon, and Plath/Shakespeare. Baron has taught some of these solo and some with other poets and writers such as Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Betsy Sholl, Nadell Fishman, and Kim Kupperman.

Recent Posts

Poets and Their Craft PBS Series
A half-hour show that includes material from the October talk/reading, an interview and poems. Click here to view. Also available on YouTube here.

Sundog Poetry Center Craft Lecture
a talk/reading about poetry and what draws us to it (October 2015)

The Valor of My Tongue: Plath and Shakespeare
an essay published in the Summer 2013 issue of Plath Profiles from Indiana University Northwest

On Vivian Maier
an essay about a photographer who has set the standard for artistry in anonymity

Magical Thinking and Modern Times
an essay about the kind of cultural quest for knowledge that leads to ignorance

See Talks and Articles for more.

Best American Essays 2014

Baron’s essay “Legend: Willem de Kooning” is in Best American Essays 2014.


Listen to Grace Cavallieri’s interview with Baron Wormser for “The Poet and the Poem” program at the Library of Congress.

During the interview Baron reads some of his poems and discusses his writing life, what he means when he writes “It should be quiet when one eats an egg” and more.



Books Available Now

Unidentified Sighing Objects cover

From the CavanKerry press release: “In his tenth collection of poems, Unidentified Sighing Objects, Baron Wormser continues a poetic journey begun more than three decades ago—a journey that has traversed the quotidian and the unexpected with equal measures of insight, emotion, and lyric grace.” Read the full press release.

Praise for USO from Richard Hoffman, author of Love and Fury : These are contemplative poems, but their occasions are the events, objects, people of our actual lives, so that Wormser’s odes and meditations serve as profound commentary on the past half century. His poems embody a kind of deep happiness that has nothing to do with contentedness; in fact, this hard-won and carefully maintained equanimity gives Wormser a vantage from which to assail hurtful absurdities and inveigh against injustice. Nobody’s fool, Wormser veils his metaphysics, but he keeps faith with his vision that there is, in fact, somewhere “The music you can’t hear but must be there.”

Praise for USO from Howard Norman, author of Next Life Might Be Kinder : This is a stunning collection. Baron Wormser is a truly inimitable poet, one in whom the tersely lyrical image-maker and the critical human intelligence, capable of elevating a quotidian moment to a level of almost theological regard, are utterly woven as one. Like what was said of Sinatra and Bessie Smith and Chet Baker, it’s as if Wormser is speaking intimately to each of us individually. Mysterious and suggestive, quite capable of crankily humorous philosophical locutions, he reminds us of no one else composing poetry today. Sure, Baron Wormser might write “Life’s a beautiful meaningless gift,” and yet I think that Unidentified Sighing Objects is a gift both beautiful and profound, whose poems are in turn self-concealing and wrenchingly transparent, and every page, in equal measure, is Buddhist-of-the-moment and timeless. Turn to the poem, “Ode to Speech” and you will know what I mean.

Teach Us That Peace cover“Baron Wormser’s first novel, Teach Us That Peace, opens a door on a dramatic American moment when a vision of racial harmony began to be more than a dream. From the summer of 1962, when the powers in Albany, Georgia, stymie Martin Luther King Jr. and aerial photographs first reveal missiles in Cuba, to the March on Washington in August, 1963, Susan and Arthur Mermelstein, mother and son, high school English teacher and high school student, journey from sheltered innocence through the contradictions and complexities of race, politics, and history.” Read the full press release.

Read the review on Dawn Potter’s blog.

Impenitent Notes coverImpenitent Notes is Baron Wormser’s ninth book of poetry. From the CavanKerry press release: “Wormser writes of darker themes—a mother dying of cancer, the bilking of Americans by the gurus of Wall Street, torture in Latin America, the faceless life of prostitutes, the anger and despair of the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq—but even in the most solemn of moments, he never fails to identify the absurdity, the fundamental quirk that accentuates our universal human imperfections.” Read the full press release.

Read the review in the Bangor Daily News.

Read the review on ForeWord Reviews.

See more available titles.

© Baron Wormser