Writing Grief: A Poetry Workshop (virtual) with Ben Gallagher

This workshop is focused on the topic of grief, and how difficult losses are expressed through poetry. As we read poets who have expressed their own grief, we will also explore questions such as: how do formal or technical poetic concerns relate to our emotional landscapes? What does it mean to share our private losses publicly through poetry? What are the limitations or inadequacies of poetry when it comes to expressing loss? What is gained from writing poems about grief, and how is this different than other forms of therapy or relief? This workshop will necessarily bring up challenging feelings and subjects, and participants should come with a willingness to support each other and take care of themselves. But it is also a poetry workshop, and so participants should also come expecting to both read and write a number of poems across the workshop sessions.

About the instructor: Ben Gallagher lives in West Dublin, Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia), with his wife and two children. He is researching poetic practices in community poetry workshops for a PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Ben is a Zen practitioner with the Oak Tree in the Garden sangha. His first poetry collection, A Grief Cave (Frontenac House, 2022), explores the movement between mourning and joy, sudden loss and new life.

Recommended experience level: New and emerging writers (About recommended experience levels)

Participant cap: 12

Location: Zoom

Dates of 4-week workshop: Tuesdays, Apr 2 + Apr 9 + Apr 16 + Apr 23, 2024 (7pm to 9pm Atlantic)

Registration for 2024 General Members: $169

Registration for non-members: $234 (includes 2024 General Membership in WFNS)

Registration for this workshop is closed.

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Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that participants in any given workshop have similar levels of creative writing and / or publication experience. This ensures that each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their career stage. The “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions used by WFNS.

  • New writers: those with less than two years’ creative writing experience and/or no short-form publications (e.g., short stories, personal essays, or poems in literary magazines, journals, anthologies, or chapbooks).
  • Emerging writers: those with more than two years’ creative writing experience and/or numerous short-form publications.
  • Early-career authors: those with 1 or 2 book-length publications or the equivalent in book-length and short-form publications.
  • Established authors: those with 3 or 4 book-length publications.
  • Professional authors: those with 5 or more book-length publications.

Please keep in mind that each form of creative writing (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and writing for children and young adults) provides you with a unique set of experiences and skills, so you might consider yourself an ‘established author’ in one form but a ‘new writer’ in another.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” creative writing workshops, which provide more opportunities for peer-to-peer feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed closely.

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