Poetry Weekend

November 13-14, 2021

The Great Books Poetry Weekend is held annually in November. Each year, the weekend includes three discussions along with a poetry activity that entertains and involves all the participants.


In 2020, Poetry Weekend tackled form. In 2021 we will examine the amazing ways that poets have responded to works of art.


Join us on November 13-14, 2021 via Zoom for an intensive two days of discussion, instruction and readings.


Please click here to register for the event.

This year’s focus will be ekphrastic poetry. Initially referring to the visual arts, ekphrastic poetry has come to embrace all art forms.

“A common definition of ekphrasis is descriptive writing influenced by the visual arts. Beyond the written word, however, responding to art can engender self-reflection, creativity, and help writers to build characters, plots, and settings.”

The Ekphrastic Writer: Creating Art-Influenced Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction (McFarland, 2020)

Going back as far as Homer, ekphrastic poems serve to enrich our perception as well as enhance and expand our ability to interact in unique ways with works of art. 


We are fortunate to have Janée Baugher, one of the foremost authorities on ekphrastic poetry, as our guest presenter.

Weekend Overview

Saturday, November 13

There will be small group sessions lead by a trained facilitator using the Shared Inquiry method in the morning and afternoon. Participants will be able to react via video and audio in groups of approximately 12 people. A packet of the poems to be discussed will be sent upon registration.

a.m. Discussion Groups

10:30 – 12:30

The Quest

Tony Hoagland   Voyage

Louise Glück   Parable

C.P. Cavafy   Ithaka

Evie Shockley   Ode to My Blackness

Donald Justice   Pantoum of the Great Depression


p.m. Discussion Groups

2:00 – 4:30

Painter to Poet


Frank O’Hara   Why I Am Not a Painter

Jorie Graham   San Sepolcro

Rebecca Foust   After the Fall

Denise Levertov   The Secret

B.H. Fairchild   All the People in Hopper’s Paintings


An Open Mic will follow the afternoon session. It’s an opportunity to read a poem of your own or share a favorite. Sign up will be via Chat on Saturday morning.


Sunday, November 14

Participants will explore the realm of ekphrastic poetry with Janée Baugher, one of the leading authorities in the field and author of the guidebook, The Ekphrastic Writer: Creating Art Influenced by Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction (McFarland, 2020)


In the morning (10:00 - 12:00), Baugher will give an interactive talk introducing the range and conventions of contemporary ekphrastic poetry including a PowerPoint presentation of both the visual art and ekphrastic work she curated for her guidebook on ekphrasis. In the afternoon (2:00 – 4:00), she will read ekphrastic poems and field questions about ekphrastic poets’ creative processes.


There will be ample time during breaks on both Saturday and Sunday for participants to chat informally with each other.

Janée Baugher is the author of The Ekphrastic Writer: Creating Art-Influenced Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction (McFarland, 2020), as well as two ekphrastic poetry collections, Coördinates of Yes (Ahadada Books, 2010) and The Body’s Physics (Tebot Bach, 2010). As a poet, essayist, and cross-disciplinary artist, Baugher specializes in ekphrasis—creative writing influenced by the visual arts. Her writing has been featured in over 150 journals. She’s been awarded artist residencies in Pennsylvania, Alaska, Vermont, Idaho, California, Washington, and Wisconsin. Baugher collaborates with choreographers and composers. She teaches creative writing in Seattle, is an assistant editor at the St. Louis journal, Boulevard, the columnist at The Ekphrastic Review, and was named the 2021 Poet-in-Residence at Maryhill Museum of Art. www.JaneeBaugher.com

Enjoy Guernica, 1937 —after the painting by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

by Janée J. Baugher

Though a metal bar holds us back fifteen feet, it seems possible

to mount the newsprint-patterned horse with a sword in its back, possible

to roll the decapitated open-eyed head from side to side, possible to hear

wailing from the open-mouthed mother with limp babe in her arms. 


Like an open-handed beggar open to his hunger, when war strikes

everything opens to it.  See the rider’s sword, broken-open to its futility,

and the window gripped to its sun.  And of course, the brute,

the bull, must be rapt.  Notice his parted horns and piqued ears? 


A woman heavy of her spine and dragging her leg behind her like a burden

tries to run off, but confusion sends her toward the bull.  Her fingernails,

tiny canvases where more stories can be sketched.  In the center,

the interrogator’s light bulb, unclosed to its light, hangs as a noose hangs. 


Not even the poor receptive sky can shield the eyes of its gods. 

In this, Picasso prepares us for our imperviousness

of men against men and of gods who turn on the open. 

Look now, beside the bull, the dove of peace:  its tears pelting

the gallery’s shiny floor.


[previously published in Baugher’s book, The Body’s Physics (Tebot Bach, 2010)]

If you'd like to view a list of poems that were discussed in past years during Poetry Weekend and at Asilomar Weekend, you can find a list here (sorted by date) or here (sorted by author)

For a list of books about poetry, please click here.

Questions? Please send email to:

Paula Weinberger, p.weinberger41@gmail.com or

Ginni Saunders, ginnisaunders@gmail.com