Workshop for Publishing Poets Celebrates 25th Anniversary; 80th Published Book

Share Article

Greater Boston's longest-running and most prolific group of poets gears up for its 25th anniversary year with a celebration of the published word: over 2,000 individual poems published; 80 books of poetry; national and international programs, awards and recognition.

In a Stone's Hollow

PoemWorks, The Workshop for Publishing Poets ( celebrates 25 years of service to the greater Boston arts and cultural community. The Workshop, founded in 1984 by poet and professor Barbara Helfgott Hyett, has grown from a dining-room venture into a full-fledged arts institution with its own reading series, summer workshops abroad and the publication of its members' work in hundreds of national journals, magazines and anthologies.

2007-2008 was a spectacular season for published poetry collections by Workshop members. New books of poetry include: "Rift"--the fifth book by Workshop founder Barbara Helfgott Hyett (University of Arkansas Press); "In a Stone's Hollow" by Freddy Frankel (Fairweather Books); "Deployed" by Suellen Wedmore (Grayson Books); "Inside Light" by Deborah DeNicola (Finishing Line Press); "The Alchemy of Grief" by Emily Ferrara (Bordighera Press); "Memories & Milestones" by Irwin E. Thompson (Acanthus Publishing); "The Moon Makes Its Own Plea" by Wendy Mnookin (BOA Editions); "Promise Supermarket" by Elizabeth Quinlan (Ibbetson Street Press); "Drive-Ins, Gas Stations, the Bright Motels" by Wendy Drexler (Pudding House Press); "The Fat Girl and Other Poems" by Edie Aronowitz (Inkwater Press); "Confirmation" by JoAnne Preiser (Finishing Line Press); "Container Gardening" by Ellen Steinbaum (CustomWords); and "The Question of Rapture" by Claire Keyes (Mayapple Press). The addition of these works brings the total number of books published by Workshop members to well over 80 volumes.

The workshop boasts an alumni network of over 800 students. Poetry by Workshop members has appeared in hundreds of national publications including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Poetry as well as small literary magazines, and dozens of anthologies. Workshop members have won 4 NEA fellowships; 6 Massachusetts Cultural Council awards; the PEN Discovery Award, the Pushcart Prize and writing fellowships at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, among others.

Since 1996, the Workshop has conducted weekend retreats across New England, and extended summer sessions in international venues including Newfoundland, the Aran Islands of Ireland, and the village of Montolieu, in the southwest of France. The Montolieu session continues this year--details of the all-inclusive program are available at

The workshop welcomes students of all levels of experience and skill, from novices to winners of the Pulitzer prize. "On any given day, the dozen people at the table might include a high school student, a Harvard professor, a sneaker salesperson, a retired surgeon, a greengrocer…" says Workshop founder and Director Barbara Helfgott Hyett, herself a former professor of English at Boston University. "The emphasis is on making work that is well-crafted enough for publication. I am continuously humbled by the diversity and commitment of the Workshop members, who come to write and revise. Together, we are a kind of organism, a publishing and social network."

Many veteran Workshop members view poetry as an important aspect of the collective reaction to personal as well as national issues and events. "Through poetry, I have been able to unearth my own response to the overwhelming complexity of the modern world, whether it's the 9/11 attacks or the challenges of being a single Mom," said Gail Parson, an educational consultant from Jamaica Plain, MA.

The Workshop's students have formed deep and lasting relationships with the power of the written word, as well as the "tough-love" criticism of workshop director Barbara Helfgott Hyett. "Barbara's workshop is miraculous," says Deborah Vander Molen, a photographer who lives in Henniker, New Hampshire. "You can come to her table with nothing at all and go home having written one line that might just save your life."

About PoemWorks:
The Workshop is a gathering of poets who each bring work to the table for reading and critique. The workshop operates currently in four sections, meeting on Tuesday morning, Wednesday evening and Thursday morning and evening in three 12-week sessions throughout the year (eight weeks in summer). Each weekly session provides intensive critical analysis in a supportive atmosphere as poets work towards finely-honed, completed poems. The workshops also function as a publishing network for its members who have published hundreds of poems, produced and published more than eighty (80+) books, and won numerous awards and fellowships. The workshop also conducts regular public readings which showcase its members. The new term begins January 6, 2009.

Barbara Helfgott Hyett, Director
PoemWorks, The Workshop for Publishing Poets


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Visit website