Curran Participates in Workshop with Poet Laureate
, upper school English instructor, earned the opportunity to participate in a poetry writing workshop with former United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins
. Collins served as Poet Laureate from 2001-03 and established the Poetry 180 program to connect high school students and teachers to poetry. He is the author of several books of poetry and his work has appeared in anthologies, textbooks, and a variety of periodicals. Collins’ honors and awards also include fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Currently, he is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College (CUNY) and a Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College.
The three-day workshop took place from January 9-11 in Key West at the annual Key West Literary Seminar. Curran had to submit up to three of her poems for consideration. She was one of a dozen writers selected to participate in the workshop and work directly with Collins. Coming from throughout the United States and even from Greece, the participants provided Curran a unique perspective on her own work, as well as poetry writing in general.
Curran described the experience as “Momentous and a bit surreal. To work with one of the greatest contemporary American poets of our time was one of the most fulfilling and inspiring experiences of my life.” She described Collins as “warm, witty, humble, and simply brilliant.”
The group met for three days and presented their poems. In true workshop style, each participant had to remain silent while the others critiqued the work. “It was a bit intimidating,” said Curran. “However, I learned more about writing and analyzing poetry in those three days than in some graduate courses I have taken.”
After the workshop, the group decided to create an on-line poetry writing workshop to share their work and continue the momentum created from the Key West workshop. When asked how this experience will enhance her teaching, Curran asserts, “This experience adds another level of richness to my teaching. It’s one thing to read material from people long gone. However, to be able to work with such a legend helps bring the material to life. It enables me to explain to students why literature matters and what makes it matter. Also, the experience helped me improve as a writer. When students see how much teachers enjoy the material they are teaching and that they even immerse themselves in their work, it can be a great motivator.”