Poetry Intensive (virtual) with Margo Wheaton

The goal of WFNS’s new “intensive” workshops is to guide writers through the feedback, revision, and submission processes that form the path from completed draft to submitted manuscript. Each “intensive” combines elements of WFNS’s traditional creative writing workshops and professional development sessions with the peer-to-peer feedback (facilitated by the instructor) that makes informal writing groups so valuable. Participants must have a completed draft before the workshop begins and must commit to reading other participants’ drafts between workshop sessions.

"From a Batch of Poems to a Unified Whole:
The Art of Crafting a Chapbook "

The magical process by which a poet transforms a bunch of seemingly unconnected poems into a unified manuscript, one ready to enter the world as a chapbook, can seem mysterious and fraught. How do you know when your poems are ready? Which poems should you use and which should you rewrite or discard? And what’s a chapbook, anyway?

A poetry chapbook is frequently the first volume a poet ever publishes. Although opinions vary, chapbooks are frequently about 10 – 20 pages in length. Doing the thoughtful work that is required to turn a batch of individual poems into a chapbook manuscript, one that’s ready to send to a publisher, enables you to develop the same skills that are required to create a full-length book of poems.

In this five-part workshop series, writers will discover the synergy that exists in a selection of their own poems and explore the innate structure and scaffolding upon which to build a polished chapbook manuscript. Through a combination of peer workshopping, group discussion, and facilitator-led presentations, participants will receive the feedback, knowledge, and skills that will enable them to move their own chapbook manuscripts from draft stage to final version. By the end of this workshop intensive, participants will know what sequencing is and have strategies to find their poems’ best order. They will have discerned their manuscript’s unique narrative arc and be able to check for consistency and flow. Participants will also identify the main subjects, themes and stylistic forms upon which they will focus their manuscripts. This will help them gain clarity about which poems to discard, as well as a sense of what new pieces they may need to write in order to create a strong chapbook manuscript. In the final session, participants will learn about the mechanics of preparing and submitting a chapbook manuscript for publication and explores options for submitting it.

About the instructor: Margo Wheaton lives in Kjipuktuk/Halifax and holds a Master’s degree in English and a Certificate in Adult Education, both from Dalhousie University. Her debut poetry collection, The Unlit Path Behind the House, won the Canadian Authors’ Association’s Fred Kerner Award for best book of the year and was shortlisted for the J.M. Abraham Award, The Gerald Lampert Award, the Fred Cogswell Award, and the Relit Award. She recently published Wild Green Light, with author David Adams Richards, as well as Rags of Night in Our Mouths (McGill-Queen’s UP).

Recommended experience level: Emerging and established poetry writers with at least two publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies—or with similar publication experience in another form or genre (About recommended experience levels)

Location: Zoom

Dates of 5-week workshop: Tuesdays, Nov 15 + Nov 22 + Nov 29 + Dec 6 + Dec 13, 2022 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Non-member price: $254 (includes 2022 General Membership in WFNS)

2022 member price: $189

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than two years and/or have not yet been published in any form.
  • Emerging writers: those who have been writing creatively for less than five years and/or have some short publications (poems, stories, or essays) in literary magazines, journals, or anthologies.
  • Established writers/authors: those with numerous publications in magazines, journals, or anthologies and/or a full-length book publication.
  • Professional authors: those with two or more full-length book publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer (that is, participant-to-participant) feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca