Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in PoetryCover of Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in Poetry

Edited by Scott Wiggerman and David Meischen

Sixty-one poetry writing exercises by fifty-eight teaching poets

— Cole Swensen

“opens the door wide to our creative selves”
— Gabriele Rico

Trade Paperback: $19.95   ISBN-13: 978-09760051-9-3

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$13.95   ISBN-13: 978-09840399-0-6


Rosa Alcalá, Wendy Barker, Ellen Bass, Tara Betts, Catherine Bowman, Susan Briante, Sharon Bridgforth, Nathan Brown, Jenny Browne, Andrea Hollander Budy, Lisa D. Chavez, Alison T. Cimino, Cathryn Cofell, Sarah Cortez, Bruce Covey, Oliver de la Paz, Lori Desrosiers, Cyra S. Dumitru, Blas Falconer, Annie Finch, Gretchen Fletcher, Madelyn Garner, Barbara Hamby, Carol Hamilton, Penny Harter, Kurt Heinzelman, Jane Hilberry, Karla Huston, David Kirby, Laurie Kutchins, Ellaraine Lockie, Ed Madden, Anne McCrady, Robert McDowell, Ray McManus, David Meischen, Harryette Mullen, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Hoa Nguyen, Naomi Shihab Nye, Katherine Durham Oldmixon, Kathleen Peirce, Georgia A. Popoff, Patty Seyburn, Ravi Shankar, Shoshauna Shy, Patricia Smith, Jessamyn Johnston Smyth, Bruce Snider, Lisa Russ Spaar, Susan Terris, Lewis Turco, Andrea L. Watson, Afaa Michael Weaver, William Wenthe, Scott Wiggerman, Abe Louise Young, Matthew Zapruder

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Praise for Wingbeats

“a manual to power-lift off the bookshelf”

— The Coachella Review

Wingbeats is a fabulous toolbox of innovative and practical ideas that literally every teacher of poetry workshops and at every level, from elementary poets-in-the-schools through the graduate MFA, will find indispensable. Covering a vast range from image to sound to form, the exercises are all concrete and clearly presented—a marvelous way to mine the imaginations and experiences of today’s most dynamic poets. Invaluable!

— Cole Swensen, author of Gravesend, Ours, The Glass Age . . .

I opened Wingbeats—and fell in headfirst, caught in the feathers of the creative impulse. Wingbeats proves that poetry matters, that writing is an experimental discovery process, that there are many avenues to success, that writing poems is a gift we can all claim. The wealth of enabling nudges by the poets of Wingbeats—who share their energy, wisdom, and examples—opens the door wide to our creative Selves. No teacher, no aspiring poet, should be without the gentle guidance of this book.

— Gabriele Rico, author of Writing the Natural Way

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The Wingbeats Workshops

Note: We are planning more Wingbeats workshops. Check back regularly to see what else is coming.

Wingbeats in Madison

Following up on the success of David Meischen’s summer 2011 Wingbeats workshop in Madison, Dos Gatos Press presented a second Madison workshop Saturday, June 2, 2012, featuring Wingbeats contributors Cathryn Cofell and Karla Huston.

Wingbeats co-editor Scott Wiggerman opened the workshop with a short exercise by Susan Terris, “Seven (or Ten) Line Poem.”

Cathryn and Karla guided participants through two exercises, “Over My Dead Body: Exquisite Corpse” and “Thrift Shop: Giving and Getting, a Collaboration.”

Wingbeats co-editor David Meischen closed the workshop with “Rube Goldberg Poems,” an exercise by Oliver de la Paz.

Thanks to the  Sequoya branch library for hosting us.

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Wingbeats in Round Top

Dos Gatos Press had the honor of participating in Poetry at Round Top, May 4–6, 2012.

On Friday, May 4, 2012, Wingbeats co-editors David Meischen and Scott Wiggerman conducted a workshop, “Four Poems in Two Hours,” using exercises by Susan Terris, Ellen Bass, Oliver de la Paz, and Ravi Shankar.

On Saturday, May 5, featured festival poets Naomi Shihab Nye and Ed Madden participated in a Wingbeats panel discussion addressing the value of poetry writing exercises. Scott Wiggerman was also a panelist; David Meischen served as moderator. This event was so well-received that Wingbeats became the best-selling title at the festival’s weekend bookstore.

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Wingbeats in Austin

These workshops were held at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar, Austin.

Kurt Heinzelman — The Window Poem
January 15, 2012, 4 – 6 p.m.

Katherine Durham Oldmixon —
Lyrical Bees: Writing Poems Inspired by Biology
January 29, 2012, 4 – 6 p.m.

Abe Louise Young — Birds in the Classroom
February 12, 2012, 4 – 6 p.m.

David Meischen — with thanks to Georgia Popoff —
Tales from the Bathroom: The Curious Path to a Poem
February 26, 2012, 4 – 6 p.m.

Kurt Heinzelman is the author of three books of poems, The Names They Found There (2011), Black Butterflies (2004), and The Halfway Tree (2000). A multiple Pushcart nominee, Heinzelman has been a finalist for best poetry volume of the year from the Texas Institute of Letters.

Katherine Durham Oldmixon is the daughter of a research chemist who changed his major from music, and an English teacher who first studied nursing. A much-published poet, she teaches creative writing and literature and directs the writing program at historic Huston-Tillotson University in east Austin, Texas.

Abe Louise Young is an award-winning poet and journalist, who has long worked to nurture writers in unconventional settings. She has recently published in The Nation, New Letters, and Witness, and is the author of one chapbook of poetry, Ammonite.

David Meischen has been writing poetry and teaching the writing of poetry for twenty-five years. He was the Master Teacher in English for UTeach–Liberal Arts, the teacher preparation program in the College of Liberal Arts, University of Texas, Austin, 2002–2006.

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Wingbeats in Memphis

On October 8, 2011, the Harrington Brown Gallery hosted two Wingbeats workshops:

“A Question of Attraction: Ekphrasis” with Andrea Watson and Madelyn Garner

“Teaching Imagination” with Blas Falconer

Madelyn Garner is the recipient of an Aspen Writers’ Conference fellowship, the D.H. Lawrence Award from the University of New Mexico, and the Jackson Hole Writers Conference Poetry Scholarship for 2010. Her writing has appeared in Margie, Harpur Palate, Calyx, Saranac Review, Water-Stone Review, American Journal of Nursing, and elsewhere.

Andrea L. Watson has had poetry in Runes, Ekphrasis, Cream City Review, The Dublin Quarterly, International Poetry Review, Nimrod, and other publications. Her show, Braided Lives: A Collaboration Between Artists and Poets, was inaugurated by the Taos Institute of Arts in 2003 and has traveled to San Francisco, Denver, and Berkeley.

Blas Falconer is the author of A Question of Gravity and Light and the co-editor of Mentor and Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets. His second full-length collection of poems, The Foundling Wheel, is forthcoming from Four Way Books. He teaches poetry and coordinates creative writing at Austin Peay State University, in Clarksville, Tennessee, where he is the poetry editor of Zone 3: A Literary Journal and Zone 3 Press.

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Wingbeats in Georgetown

Saturday, October 1, 2011, as part of the Georgetown Poetry Festival, Wingbeats co-editor David Meischen presented “Emulating Walt Whitman,” a workshop based on Harryette Mullen’s Wingbeats exercise. Following the example of “A child said What is the grass?” participants worked on poems that channel the childlike sense of awe that pervades Whitman’s poetry.

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Wingbeats at the Twig

Four Sunday Afternoons, Four Poets, Four Workshops

July 24 Naomi Shihab Nye New Combinations: Nouns and Verbs
August 7 Wendy Barker A Crack in the Cup
August 21 Cyra S. Dumitru The Mind’s Eye: Listening as Seeing
September 4 Jenny Browne Love Letter to a Stranger

These workshops were hosted by The Twig Bookshop,
200 E. Grayson Street, Suite 124, San Antonio —
at the former Pearl Brewery on the Museum Reach of the Riverwalk.

Naomi Shihab Nye has worked as a visiting writer all over the world. Her work includes thirty books of poems, as well as eight anthologies of poetry for teens, including Is This Forever or What? Poems & Paintings from Texas.

Wendy Barker is the author of a novel in prose poems, Nothing Between Us: The Berkeley Years, as well as Poems from Paradise and Way of Whiteness. She is Poet-in-Residence and a professor of English at U.T.–San Antonio.

Cyra S. Dumitru is the author of the poetry collections What the Body Knows, Listening to Light, and remains. She teaches poetry writing and composition courses at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.

Jenny Browne is the author of two poetry collections, At Once and The Second Reason. A former James A. Michener fellow in poetry at U.T.–Austin, she teaches creative writing at Trinity University in San Antonio.

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Wingbeats in Madison

Saturday, August 20, 3–5 p.m., at Avol’s Books, Wingbeats co-editor David Meischen presented “Emulating Walt Whitman.”

Avol’s Books is at 315 W. Gorham St., Suite C, Madison, WI.

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Wingbeats in Alpine

At the Summer Writing Retreat, July 25-29, Wingbeats co-editor Scott Wiggerman presented  Working out Your Writing Muscles: A One-Week Exercise Program. Wiggerman’s highly successful workshop included several Wingbeats exercises.

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