Caesura Workshops

Thursday, October 1 thru Wednesday, October 7, 2020


Joanne Leva

Dilruba Ahmed

Grant Clauser

Mary Jo Lobello Jerome

Rachel Patterson

Dara-Lyn Shrager

Sean Hanrahan

Pat Valdata

Catherine Glenn

Lynn Levin

Tom Mallouk


$99 per person 

All tickets include the entire week’s workshops, reading and panels. Each audience member who registers prior to September 15 will include a collection of poetry books written by our workshop hosts (while supplies last).

Tickets are non-refundable.


Liz Chang

Amy Small-McKinney

Ona Gritz

Keith Kopka

JC Todd

Daniel Simpson

Sean Webb

Nicole Greaves

Michelle Reale

Doris Ferleger

Valerie Fox

Workshop Instructors

Master of Ceremonies – Chad Frame

Chad will be the host for Caesura.

Master of Ceremonies – Chad Frame

Chad is the Director of the Montgomery County Poet Laureate Program and Poet Laureate Emeritus of Montgomery County, the Poetry Editor of Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing, a founding member of the No River Twice poetry improv performance troupe, and founder of the Caesura Poetry Festival and Retreat. His work appears in Rattle, Pedestal, Mom Egg Review, Philadelphia Stories, Barrelhouse, Rust+Moth, and other journals and anthologies, as well as on iTunes from the Library of Congress.

Use Your Inside Voice: a Micro-Memoir Workshop on Motherhood


Liz Chang ( was 2012 Montgomery County Poet Laureate in Pennsylvania. Her chapbook Animal Nocturne is available from Moonstone Press. Her poems have recently appeared in Verse Daily, Origins Journal, Breakwater Review and Stoneboat Literary Journal, among others. She is an Associate Professor of English at Delaware County Community College.


Ona Gritz’s books include Geode, a Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award finalist, On the Whole: a Story of Mothering and Disability, and Present Imperfect, an essay collection forthcoming from Poets Wear Prada. A longtime columnist at, her poems and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, The New York Times, River Teeth, The Bellevue Literary Review, Brevity, and elsewhere. Ona’s nonfiction is listed among Notables in Best American Essays and Best Life Stories in Salon.

WORKSHOP | Use Your Inside Voice: a Micro-Memoir Workshop on Motherhood

Knock, knock. Who’s there?

Who… who? Who has time these days? No one… but especially not moms! Virginia Woolf once famously said that for a woman to be a writer she needs not only time but also a room of her own. Only then can she concentrate on… um, what were we saying?

Oh, right. A room. How can a mother, who sometimes can’t even have the bathroom to herself, make time and space to write?

Perhaps in stolen moments.

Micro-Memoir gives us the brevity of poetry but the breath of prose. And who knows? We may find that breaking away from linebreaks allows for more freedom, directness, and experimentation. We can be lyrical but less precious, and for that, these mini essays may be the perfect form.

Many writers have eschewed parenthood, fearing that the demands of raising children would compete with their art. But Motherhood deepens us as people, adding meaning, poignancy, and urgency to our work.

Join “lapsed poets” Liz Chang and Ona Gritz to explore and write micro-memoirs. We’ll read samples and generate new work in a nurturing, supportive (Of course! We’re moms!) environment. No previous experience in memoir, micro or otherwise, is necessary.

Putting Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes: Writing Persona Poems


Pat Valdata’s poetry book about women aviation pioneers, Where No Man Can Touch, won the 2015 Donald Justice Poetry Prize. Her other poetry titles are Inherent Vice and Looking for Bivalve. Her poetry has been published in Ecotone, Fledgling Rag, Italian Americana, Little Patuxent Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She has a new novel, Eve’s Daughters, forthcoming from Moonshine Cove Publishing in November.

WORKSHOP | Putting Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes: Writing Persona Poems

In a persona poem, the speaker is someone other than the poet. It’s like putting on a mask, something we’re all accustomed to these days! But instead of using a mask to cover our faces, we use the mask to reveal. In this workshop, we’ll read examples of persona poems that show how they reveal story and character. We’ll discuss how to apply these techniques to our own poems, and then we’ll write our own persona poem. If time permits, we’ll welcome hearing the poems from anyone who is comfortable sharing them.

Writing From Within


Doris Ferleger, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and poet whose poetry and memoir essays have been published in numerous literary journals including: BridgesCalifornia QuarterlyCalyxComstock ReviewConfluenceMany Mountains MovingNortheast CorridorPhoebe (Suny)South Carolina ReviewSouth Dakota Review13th Moon, and in anthologies entitled: Motherpoet and Journey into Motherhood. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College and has attended well-regarded writers conferences including Bread Loaf and the Krakow Polish Poetry Seminar, founded by Polish poet Adam Zagajewski, which brought established and emerging American poets to Poland to discuss Polish poetry and the interface between poetry and history. Ferleger’s ardent interest in poetry and history is reflected in her book entitled Big Silences in a Year of Rain

WORKSHOP | Writing From Within

In writing our world from our “wild mind,” we transform ourselves, create ourselves, empower ourselves, nourish ourselves, heal ourselves. Being heard by those who have come to hear, we become sacred.

I am deeply moved and inspired to facilitate a generative writing workshop using prompts, art, music, movement exercises I have created or borrowed from esteemed poets with whom I have studied: Terrance Hayes, Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones), Carolyn Forche (Against Forgetting), Linda Trichter-Metcalf, Toby Simon, (Proprioceptive Writing) John Fox (Poetic Medicine) and Susan Windle, Already Near You.

Enter new and forgotten inner chambers and landscapes, voices and feelings. Be inspired by poems, prose, music, and each other. Learn new ways to spark your inner writer and quiet your inner critic. Give yourself the gift of time for spontaneous writing, optional sharing, and respectful deep listening to one another. If you’d like to start now, choose 8 words from this poem by Derek Walcott, circle them. Write for 8 minutes including those 8 words. Send it to me if you wish. I will collect and print out those I receive. A way to introduce ourselves. Let me know if I can share them with no names on them. So we will have an inviting beginning.

Odd Job: A Bull Terrier
By Derek Walcott

You prepare for one sorrow,
but another comes.
It is not like the weather,
you cannot brace yourself,
the unreadiness is all.
Your companion, the woman,
the friend next to you,
the child at your side,
and the dog,
we tremble for them,
we look seaward and muse
it will rain.
We shall get ready for rain;
you do not connect
the sunlight altering
the darkening oleanders
in the sea-garden,
the gold going out of the palms.
You do not connect this,
the fleck of the drizzle
on your flesh,
with the dog’s whimper,
the thunder doesn’t frighten,
the readiness is all;
what follows at your feet
is trying to tell you
the silence is all:
it is deeper than the readiness,
it is sea-deep,

The silence
is stronger than thunder,
we are stricken dumb and deep
as the animals who never utter love
as we do, except
it becomes unutterable
and must be said,
in a whimper,
in tears,
in the drizzle that comes to our eyes
not uttering the loved thing’s name,
the silence of the dead,
the silence of the deepest buried love is
the one silence,
and whether we bear it for beast,
for child, for woman, or friend,
it is the one love, it is the same,
and it is blest
deepest by loss
it is blest, it is blest.

What’s the Story: Narrative Techniques in Poetry & Other Genres


Mary Jo LoBello Jerome, the current Bucks County Poet Laureate, recently won honorable mention in the Allen Ginsberg Awards and has work forthcoming in Paterson Literary Review. Her fiction and poetry has appeared in Schuykill Valley Journal, Ovunque Siamo, Stillwater Review, River Heron Review, Little Patuxent Review, Short Story, and elsewhere. She has written for The New York Times and Scholastic and holds an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

WORKSHOP | What’s the Story: Narrative Techniques in Poetry & Other Genres

Gossip, fake news, real life — whatever it is, let’s write about it and discover some truth to share. This is a generative workshop for poets and prose writers to mine stories of our lives for gems to create narrative poetry, prose poems, and lyrical creative nonfiction. The focus will be poetry, but the techniques and prompts apply across genres. We’ll consider persona, voice, dialogue, scene-setting. Bring a photo, a postcard, and a memento — the weirder, the better.

Jumpstart Your Poems & Prose


Dilruba Ahmed is the author of Bring Now the Angels (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020). Her debut book of poetry, Dhaka Dust (Graywolf Press), won the Bakeless Prize. Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, New England Review, and Ploughshares. Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2019, Halal If You Hear Me, Literature: The Human Experience, and elsewhere.

WORKSHOP | Jumpstart Your Poems & Prose

Join us for a fun and lively series of prompts that include varied approaches to writing. You can expect prompts sure to help you move past writer’s block, activities that will challenge your typical approaches to generating new work, and fresh draft material to take home at the workshop’s conclusion. Bring your pens, paper, and charged laptops, and a willingness to try something new to jumpstart your writing.

Writing From Grief: Personal and Social


Amy Small-McKinney’s second book of poems, Walking Toward Cranes, won the Kithara Book Prize 2016 (Glass Lyre Press). Her newest manuscript, “Unpracticed Bodies Come Apart” was a 2019 finalist with both Trio House Press and Barrow Street Press. Her poem “Birthplace” received Special Merits recognition by The Comstock Review for their 2019 Muriel Craft Bailey Poetry Contest. Small-McKinney’s poems have appeared in many journals, for example, American Poetry Review and Tiferet, and have also been translated into Romanian and Korean.

WORKSHOP | Writing From Grief: Personal and Social

Bliss and Grief, by Marie Ponsot

No one
is here
right now.

There is so much to grieve for now. Deaths of loved ones. Death of human contact and some semblance of normalcy. Deaths of our dreams for the world, the earth, for ourselves, and for others.
In this workshop, we will look at how several poets address grieving and loss. We will consider both personal and social grief and how the two often, but not always, intersect. Then we will listen to what our own poems are trying to tell us.
As a poet whose husband died recently, I know first-hand how poetry can contain the uncontainable. We all grieve differently, and we all write differently. It is my hope that by the end of our time together, participants will have a draft of a new poem that surprises them and invites them to continue.

Courting the Muse


In 2017, Daniel Simpson and his wife, Ona Gritz, collaborated on two books, co-authoring Border Songs: A Conversation in Poems and co-editing More Challenges for the Delusional, an anthology of prompts, prose, and poetry. His first collection of poems, School for the Blind came out in 2014. The New York Times and numerous poetry magazines have printed his work. The recipient of a Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowship, he tends a blog at


Ona Gritz’s books include Geode, a Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award finalist, On the Whole: a Story of Mothering and Disability, and Present Imperfect, an essay collection forthcoming from Poets Wear Prada. A longtime columnist at, her poems and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, The New York Times, River Teeth, The Bellevue Literary Review, Brevity, and elsewhere. Ona’s nonfiction is listed among Notables in Best American Essays and Best Life Stories in Salon.

WORKSHOP | Courting the Muse

Even in easier times, we can have days when we’d rather clear out the basement or go to the dentist than drag ourselves to the writing desk. Layer on top of that a pandemic, political strife, major climate events, financial uncertainty and a host of other pressures and you have a recipe for writer’s block. Some days require a few tricks to get us going. In this workshop, we’ll warm up with a poetry game, read some model poems to inspire us, write collaboratively and individually, and experiment with prompts and other ways to prime the pump and invite the Muse. Participants will leave the workshop stocked with techniques and resources, not to mention a good start on a poem or two.

Poetry and Repair


Dr. Tom Mallouk’s poetry and prose have been widely published both in print and on-line. His presentation “Poetry and Repair” integrates the poetic process with that of psychological, spiritual and emotional healing. A three-time runner up for the Bucks County poet laureate, his chapbook Nantucket Revisited was published in May, 2013. He has been a practicing psychotherapist for more that 45 years and resides with his wife Dr. Eileen Engle in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

WORKSHOP | Poetry and Repair

In this workshop we will examine the parallels between the process of trauma resolution and the creation of poems. Gregory Orr in “Poetry as Survival” asserts that poetry takes place at the threshold between chaos and order in the life of the poet. Trauma produces chaos and neurologically renders its victims speechless by impacting Broca’s area of the brain. When T.S. Elliot assert that poems are “raids on the inarticulate” he is alluding to this phenomena. Psychologically trauma both isolates and shames its victims. By bringing my understanding of the effects of trauma and my experience as a clinician and trauma survivor, I will invite participants to consider the way our own writing attempts to give voice to the unspeakable and helps us feel grounded in the face of the disorganizing effects or trauma. The poem itself as a vehicle to connect the poet to the reader or listener attenuates the isolation that is a hallmark of trauma.
I will bring some of my poems as illustrations and invite others to share ones that further illuminate these ideas. I hope to also provide a writing exercise grounded in participants’ personal narratives.

Poetry of Despair and Redemption


Sean Webb has received many honors for his work, including winning the Passages North Neutrino Prize and the Gemini Magazine Poetry Open. His recent chapbooks are “The Constant Parades” and “What Cannot Stay Small Forever.” His work has appeared in many publications including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, The Quarterly, Seattle Review, West Branch, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and Philadelphia Stories. Links to poems and books can be found at

WORKSHOP | Poetry of Despair and Redemption

Mental health problems, societal challenges, and alcoholism and addiction are represented in high numbers amongst poets. As a result, the poetry landscape is filled with works about related suffering—often created by suffering people—as well as works of redemption and peace—sometimes created by the same people. In this workshop, we will read and discuss poems of despair and redemption, analyzing the craft in relation to some challenging aspects of human experience and how these works can apply in understanding some of our own experiences. Poetry examples may be drawn from such poets as Richard Hugo, John Berryman, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Gerald Stern, Charles Bukowski, Thomas Lux, Theodore Roethke, Dylan Thomas, Jim Carroll, Hart Crane, Stephen Crane, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Alan Dugan, Etheridge Knight, as well as the workshop host. We will conclude with a writing prompt delving into either of those aspects from the spectrum ends of psychological/emotional outburst.

The Path to Literary Citizenship


Joanne Leva is author of two poetry collections, Eve Would Know and Eve Heads Back. Her poem, “God Walks into a Bar,” was featured in a Philadelphia Calligraphers’ Society Poetry Reading & Exhibit. She is founder of the Montgomery County (PA) Poet Laureate Program (MCPL). Go to: to learn more.

WORKSHOP | The Path to Literary Citizenship
We will explore literary citizenship fundamentals: finding your tribe, your voice, and your way.

Great Poems Make Everyone Sick


Rachel Marie Patterson is co-founder and editor of Radar Poetry. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. The recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, Rachel’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and the Pushcart Prize. Poems appear in Harpur Palate, Cimarron Review, Smartish Pace, Parcel, The Journal, Thrush, Nashville Review, Redivider, Fugue, and others. She is the author If I Am Burning (MSR, 2011).


Dara-Lyn Shrager lives in Princeton, New Jersey, and is the co-founder and editor of Radar Poetry. Her full-length poetry collection, Whiskey, X-Ray, Yankee, was published by Barrow Street Books in 2018. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and a BA from Smith College. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in many journals, including Crab Creek Review, Southern Humanities Review, Barn Owl Review, and Nashville Review. Learn more at:

WORKSHOP | Great Poems Make Everyone Sick

In this generative workshop, we’ll look at some of our favorite poems and discuss how great poetry elicits a visceral reaction in the both the creator and the reader. Then we’ll generate some quick word lists, review a handful of methods for getting strong first drafts on the page and write some great poems!

Parent Poems


Nicole Greaves teaches English in Philadelphia. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary reviews and been acknowledged by several prizes. In 2003, she was the poet laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and was nominated for Best on the Net by Radar Magazine in 2015. Much of her work explores themes around acculturation, gender roles, and class.

WORKSHOP | Parent Poems

In the 1980s, Stanley Kunitz published the essay “The Poet’s Quest for the Father.” In it, he recalls writing an early elegy for his father who committed suicide weeks before Kunitz was born. ”For the Word Is Flesh,” was a young man’s poem, pressed into allusion and though ripe with beauty, the poem’s gospel not fully realized. In the later, ”Father and Son,” Kunitz ends with him seeing his father’s “ignorant hollow” face. The last lines present relief felt when he sees his father in true form, and the speaker is absolved of the longing for a man who did not exist. His “The Portrait,” ending on the image of his mother slapping him after he produces a portrait of his father, considers the impact of his father’s death on his relationship with his mother. As Kunitz wrote:  “My problem was not whether to acknowledge my losses and frustrations but how to transform them from a destructive experience into a creative one.” Together, we will explore poems that name the parent, mirror them, hunt them down, hold them close, and forgive them. Through a series of exercises, we will write our own “Parent Poems” and begin the process of transformation.

Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop


Sean Hanrahan is a Philadelphian poet originally hailing from Dale City, Virginia. He is the author of the full-length collection Safer Behind Popcorn (2019 Cajun Mutt Press) and the chapbooks Hardened Eyes on the Scan (2018 Moonstone Press) and Gay Cake (2020 Toho). He currently serves on the Moonstone Press Editorial Board, as head poetry editor for Toho, and workshop instructor for Green Street Poetry. He teaches a class titled A Chapbook in 49 Days.

WORKSHOP | Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop

I have long been a proponent of ekphrastic poetry, even before I heard the word. Movies have long been a creative wellspring for my own poetry and my full-length collection, Safer Behind Popcorn, is an examination of movies through a LGBTQ lens. The workshop will be structured in four parts: 1. Introduction and discussion of ekphrastic poems exploring the poet’s relationship to visual art, film, and music. What makes the poem work? How does the poet relate to the work of art? Does the poet place themselves inside or outside of the art? 2. We would explore a sampling of visual artwork, film clips, and pieces of music. 3. We will write a poem or poems inspired by the artwork provided or from another artwork of their choice. 4. Students can share what they have written for the class. The goal of this class is to show how art can inspire other artwork and that poets can either discuss how they relate or do not relate to an artwork, or even place themselves in the artwork itself, to generate inspiration for poetry and a deeper appreciation for other artistic forms.

A Burst of Autumn Color


Valerie Fox’s work appears in Juked, Philadelphia Stories, Reflex, The Cafe Irreal, and Hanging Loose. Her poetry collections include The Rorschach Factory, The Glass Book, and Insomniatic. Her work has been selected for both the Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction series. She teaches at Drexel University. You can learn more about her work here.


Lynn Levin’s most recent poetry collection, The Minor Virtues, is listed as one of Spring 2020’s best books by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her previous collections include Miss PlastiqueFair Creatures of an Hour, and Imaginarium. Her poems have appeared in Boulevard, Artful Dodge, on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, and other places. She teaches at Drexel University. Her website is

WORKSHOP | A Burst of Autumn Color

A Burst of Autumn Color: Valerie Fox and Lynn Levin, authors of Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets (Second Edition) present a virtual poetry workshop

Valerie Fox (The Rorschach Factory, The Glass Book) and Lynn Levin (The Minor Virtues, Miss Plastique), co-authors of Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, a finalist in Writing/Publishing in the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, invite you to their virtual poetry workshop hosted by the Caesura Conference. Poets at all levels will benefit from this engaging Zoom session that will involve a variety of poetry-writing exercises and prompts: some timeless, some relating to current events. We’ll do in-class writing and sharing, so please be sure to have paper and pen by your side. You will finish the workshop having written several promising drafts.

Poet as Crime Scene Investigator


Grant Clauser is the author of five books, including Muddy Dragon on the Road to Heaven (winner of the Codhill Press Poetry Award), Reckless Constellations, The Magician’s Handbook, and Necessary Myths. He won the Cider Press Book Award and the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize, and has had poems featured in the American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Rattle, and others. He works as an editor, and also teaches poetry at Rosemont College.

WORKSHOP | Poet as Crime Scene Investigator

Emotions can be the fuel to power the best poems, but writing them can be hard. We fall into the traps of being either too obvious, too vague, too sentimental or too, well, emotional. But emotions are like crimes. They have scenes, settings and motives. They leave evidence and trails, and even scars. In this workshop we’ll look at how you can dust for fingerprints and search for tire tracks, follow the evidence of emotional events to better let your readers experience the emotion with you, rather than you just telling them it happened.

Publishing for Poets


Keith Kopka is the author of Count Four (University of Tampa Press, 2020). His poetry and criticism have recently appeared in The International Journal of the Book, Mid-American Review, New Ohio Review, Berfrois, Best New Poets, and many others. Kopka received the 2017 international Award for Excellence from the Books, Publishing & Libraries Research Network. He is also a senior editor at Narrative, as well as the co-founder and director of operations for Writers Resist.

WORKSHOP | Publishing Poets

Publication of a book-length or a chapbook-length collection of poems is something that many writers aspire to. Yet, unlike our counterparts in fiction and nonfiction, we do not have agents to “shop” our manuscripts, and publication through the contest model can often feel similar to playing the lottery. Left to our own devices, the “behind the scenes” work that poets engage in to prepare manuscripts for publication can be overwhelming and misunderstood. Although there is always an element of chance in publication, there are tangible strategies to improve your chances of getting your manuscript noticed in the slush pile. This workshop will explore strategies for writing cover letters, submission options, how to research contests, how to create a submission calendar, as well as how to find the right press for your work. We will also discuss the more technical elements of manuscript preparation, such as formatting, organization, front and back matter, omissions, and many others. No matter what aspect of the submission and publication process you are curious about, this workshop will prepare you to send your collection of poems out into the world.

Poems and Trans Identity


Catherine Glenn is a semi-retired public high school teacher, published poet and “semi-out” trans-woman. Catherine’s poetry (published under her male name) has appeared in several regional journals and online sites. She has won a regional “Poet Laureate” competition and was a finalist in The Eric Hoffer Award for Poetry. Within the official confines of a school setting, she engages with LGBTQ+ youth whenever she is able and encourages high school students to expand their writing beyond the artificial limit of 280 characters.

READING & DISCUSSION| Poetry & Trans Identity

Who do you talk to – or cry to – when you are alone and you desperately want to share something about yourself that you are absolutely not permitted to share? While many have turned to journaling, I turned to poetry and eventually took my words public. I will share how poetry helped me voice some difficult admissions to myself, privately scream about what I saw in the world around me (although my “screaming” is pretty subdued) and acted as a springboard to conversation when I have come out to friends. In addition to a reading and discussion of several of my poems, audience members will be encouraged to share a short poem they have composed.

What We Can Hold: Using Objects As Entry Points Into Writing Family Poems


Michelle Reale is a professor at Arcadia University.  Her work appears in a  wide variety of publications, both online, print and anthologies. In addition she is the author of 11 books of poetry,  including In the Blink of a Mottled Eye (Kelsay Books, 2020) and Season of Subtraction ( Bordighera Press, 2019).  She teaches in the MFA program at Arcadia University and is the founding and managing editor of OVUNQUE SIAMO: New Italian American Writing.

WORKSHOP | What We Can Hold: Using Objects As Entry Points Into Writing Family Poems 

Every poem needs an entry point.  Every poem contains a bit of ourselves no matter what the subject matter.  Family poems (however you define family) are often poems that attempt to get to a bedrock of emotional truth.  How to enter into the  habitat that is the family poem? In this workshop, we will work with objects that have resonance, special meaning, and/or are a familial cultural artifact to craft poems that reveal something of the family world and our intimate experience with it.


Reach a new audience & support the literary arts in Montgomery County.