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Surprise the Line: Dissecting the Heart (of a poem) / one-day workshop

  • Grounds Cafe 6277 E Spring St Long Beach CA 90808 USA (map)

Surprise the Line: Dissecting the Heart (of a Poem)

One-Day Generative Poetry Writing Workshop

You are invited to a one-day generative poetry workshop led by Nancy Lynée Woo on Sunday, February 24th, from 1:30-3:30 pm at Grounds Cafe in Long Beach!


What This Workshop Will Offer

This is a small-group generative poetry writing workshop with a brief introduction of curiosity-driven instruction.

How are some poems so rich with both clarity and depth, so concise yet so profound, both concrete and universal? Writing memorable poems takes a lifetime of practice. Behind a truly profound 10-line poem may be years of exploration. In this workshop, we will spend a couple of intentional hours to open up a little deeper in our exploration of poetry: How can we find the heart of our poems more easily, and then how can we let them shine more clearly? 

First, we will dissect poems from Ted Koozer and Mary Oliver to get the gears turning. Participants are invited to bring one poem that speaks to them for the dissection process instead, if they like, which will involve: 1) looking for what we see 2) looking for what we don't see, and 3) looking for the emotional core behind that.

We'll get writing right away, and move fairly quickly in short bursts, freewriting to 1) write what we see, 2) write what we don't see, 3) write toward an emotional core, then 4) tie it all back to a concrete image. By peeling back the layers, we increase our understanding of what it means to write a poem that is both complex and clear. Participants are invited to bring a draft of a poem they are working on as a starting point, if they like. 

Poetry is a mystical practice. This workshop invites you to surprise the line, and follow the lead of wonder toward greater clarity of thought and depth of feeling in your work.

You will leave with sections of a poem, if not a complete poem, and hopefully more curiosity! There will be time to share our work and responses in a loving and supportive way with the group. 


How to Sign Up

This workshop is for all levels! Whether you're just starting to get interested in reading and writing poetry, or whether you have been writing for years, this workshop offers a space to explore and write.

Space is limited to 9. RSVP and payment ahead of time are required to secure your spot. Please purchase a ticket through Eventbrite or otherwise email me at with any questions, thoughts or comments. 

A small or regular-size coffee or tea is included with your ticket! Speciality drinks and food are available for purchase from the coffee shop (their bagels are amazing).

I look forward to seeing you there!


Motivating Philosophy

Structure allows room for experimentation. Add elements of craft to your unique aesthetic, stir, and see what happens. Taking our work seriously doesn’t mean taking ourselves too seriously! Invite surprise onto the page. Have fun! Poetry is discovery. What else is there to do but create?

For reviews of past workshops from previous attendees, please see:


What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

There is a large free parking lot. 

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?


What's the refund policy?

If you need to cancel, you can get a full refund with 7 days notice before the event. Because space is limited, I cannot issue a refund without 7 days notice. Thank you for understanding.