Instructor: Cate Marvin
Date & Time: Thursdays, January 24 – March 28 | 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Location: USM’s Glickman Library, Portland
Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Maximum Attendees: 12 CANCELLED
Fee: MWPA Member $450 [+ $5 materials fee] | Nonmember $600 [+ $5 materials fee]
Registration Closes: January 14 January 21

In this master class, participants will explore the boundaries between free-verse and traditional form by practicing both as they write and workshop new poems. With a steadfast eye on the relationship between style and content, the class will explore the limitations and liberties of writing in received forms.

Participants will work with “occasional” forms, in addition to crafting their own formal strategies from real world examples. Discussions will naturally extend to the verse line and how it operates within free-verse poems.

This course is designed to help poets hone their formal chops—or at least brush them off and give them a good shine—as a foundation to support and serve their larger writing practice. The class will read a variety of poems, by poets such as Denis Johnson, Marilyn Hacker, Terrance Hayes, and many others, which will serve as models for their own work.

  • For the first class, participants should bring a completed poem that they found difficult to execute with regard to form (line breaks, stanza breaks, etc.). In class, they will respond to these poems with a writing exercise, the results of which will supply the material for their first assignment.
  • Participants should be prepared to write a poem a week. Every week, the instructor will provide an assignment modeled on a poem discussed in class. Participants’ poems will be workshopped every other week, for a total of five poems over the course of 10 weeks.
  • Each week’s session will include a writing prompt, workshopping, and discussion of several texts.

+ SUBMIT After registering, participants are asked to submit a manuscript of up to 3 poems by no later than 9:00 AM on January 14. These poems will not be workshopped; the instructor will be reading them to get a sense of your work. Please email the manuscript to with the subject line: “MARVIN WORKSHOP MSS.” *Word docs (ideally) or PDFs only, please.

DATES The workshop will meet every Thursday between January 24 and March 28, unless unforeseen scheduling issues should arise.

PAYMENTS MWPA members may pay for this workshop in one payment, or may pay in three installments of $151.70, due at registration and the first of each month (February, March). *PLEASE NOTE If you have selected to pay for this multi-week workshop on the installment option, once registration for the workshop has closed, you are responsible for paying all of the remaining installments. If you should, for any reason, leave the workshop after registration has closed, you are still responsible for paying all of the remaining installments.

CEU The MWPA is proud to offer Continuing Education Units (CEU) for this workshop. The CEU is a nationally recognized method of quantifying the time spent in the classroom during non-credit learning. Ten hours of instruction equal one (1) CEU. (*Please note that by definition, CEUs are non-credit continuing education and therefore not transferrable as academic credit.)

MarvinCate Marvin’s first book, World’s Tallest Disaster, was chosen by Robert Pinsky for the 2000 Kathryn A. Morton Prize and published by Sarabande Books in 2001. In 2002, she received the Kate Tufts Discovery Prize. She co-edited with poet Michael Dumanis the anthology Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century (Sarabande Books, 2006). Her second book of poems, Fragment of the Head of a Queen, for which she received a Whiting Award, was published by Sarabande in 2007. Marvin teaches poetry writing in the Stonecoast M.F.A. Program at the University of Southern Maine and is Professor of English at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. In 2009, she co-founded the nonprofit organization VIDA: Women in Literary Arts with poet Erin Belieu. Her third book of poems, Oracle, was released from W.W. Norton & Co. in 2015. A recent Guggenheim Fellow, she lives in Scarborough, Maine.

All MWPA workshops require advanced registration. We accept registration by phone, mail, and online via PayPal. We cannot guarantee registration in the final 24-hours before a workshop, and can rarely accommodate day-of registration.

If you need to withdraw from a class after registering for any reason, please email or call the MWPA immediately. You may be eligible for a partial refund or credit, depending on how far in advance you cancel.

For any questions regarding this workshop, please contact Hannah Perry at

Call 207-228-8263 and register with your VISA or MasterCard.

If you prefer to pay by mail, please print this registration form (downloadable PDF) and mail it to the MWPA with a check or credit card information.


The MWPA is proud to offer one full scholarship to this workshop for members-only. Scholarships are awarded on a combination of need and merit. Application Due in the MWPA office on January 7 at 9:00 a.m.

Registration in any MWPA workshop, program, or event constitutes your agreement to our terms and conditions.