Workshop: Writing From the Heart Through Verse


Last week I “took the show on the road” for the first time, and even though I don’t yet have an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of my book, Crazy, to hang on to for moral support, I had a great experience.

The “show” consists of a workshop titled “Writing From the Heart Through Verse.”

Here’s the brochure pitch in case you are looking for a program for your book club, writer’s group, or high school English or writing class:

Writing about life’s peaks and valleys in free verse form can be a constructive way to deal with emotional issues.  You don’t have to be a professional writer to enjoy the benefits. 

In this workshop we will discuss a selection of books written in free verse, including Crazy.

Participants will have a hands-on opportunity to explore their own poetic talent. The workshop is open to teens or adults who enjoy poetry.


In the workshop we talked about the difference between free verse and blank verse, and how free verse lends itself well to the release of thoughts and emotions that may have affected us deeply at some point in our lives.  I shared a bit about how my book evolved as a cathartic exercise in dealing with my mother’s mental illness.

We explored the poetry of a few well-known authors who have written about real-life circumstances in free verse.   Among those are Karen Hesse (Out of the Dust)  and Ellen Hopkins (Crank), about whom I have blogged recently, as well as the following:

Thanhha Lai (Inside Out and Back Again)

Sonya Sones (Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy)

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer (Reaching for Sun)

Carole Boston Weatherford (Becoming Billie Holiday)

I feel especially good about this first run through since the group, Write to Publish, moderated by my friend Catherine Sullivan, wasn’t unanimously fond of verse.  Out of about a dozen participants, only a few had any real interest in poetry, and I think that might be pretty representative of the general population.  But, as I always found when I was working with young students, there is poetry in everyone to some degree, and often the loudest detractors have the most to offer.  In this group, I was overwhelmed by the willingness to share, and the quality of what they had to share after just a few short minutes of writing time.


Perhaps most gratifying to me, a newbie on the circuit, was the following email from participant Tom McCrae (note:  he wants to make sure you know he is not the British rock star by the same name!):  “I want to thank you for the entertaining presentation at The Last Word (bookstore) on Sunday afternoon.  Because I have zero interest in writing free verse, or any other kind of verse for that matter, I was prepared to feign attention while stifling yawns.  Instead, your program held my attention and I found it enjoyable.  Thank you.”

Honestly, as a writer, I would much rather be home cranking out the next book than out on the promotional trail, but I know that’s the name of the game.  If you bother writing it, you have to bother promoting it.  But if it all goes as well as it did with this Write to Publish group, I might have a hard time staying home!


Hey READERS, I would love to hear from you.

Is your MIND FULL of old thoughts or new?


Workshop: Writing From the Heart Through Verse — 3 Comments

  1. Hi Miriam,

    My friend Elaine Sullivan moderates the group and she contacted me. They have different groups all over the city I think. I’m hoping your book process is moving right along, too!

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