manuscript incubator for poets


you’ve accumulated a file of finished or nearly-finished poems

a shape

for your body of work
worthy of a wider readership

a path

this 3-month course offers serious poets a structure & a process
to turn individual poems into a polished collection

a deep collaboration

your willingness, raw talent, pages in wait
my 20+ years of reviewing, editing, assembling and publishing poetry

a chapbook-length collection to take pride in

you are a poet. you are ready

my part.

I’ll ask powerful questions, push the work where it needs to go further, & help you find a form for your body of work.

we’ll identify your best poems, & those yet to be written, & consider how to assemble them into something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

I’ll email you bi-weekly lessons on Fridays that include essays, exercises & clear instructions for how to move through the process of assembling a chapbook-length (10-40 pp.) manuscript.

I’ll read your work for what unifies it aesthetically, thematically, conceptually, or otherwise.

I’ll provide written feedback on your poems + monthly private tutorials, which give you an opportunity to ask questions & discuss the work in progress.

this once-per year course is limited to 8 participants so your work will receive my full attention.

“Holly’s help has been invaluable. Insightful, incisive, your comments have challenged and guided me to do better—then best. Frost was right when he said a poem is never finished, only abandoned. Now I feel this work must finally be set free of our careful tending to see if it can fly on its own.” –Karen Anderson

your part.

select a minimum of 10-12 poems to begin working with (I’ll review up to 60 of your poems to help you determine which will make the best foundation for your body of work).

prepare to commit time to the lessons, exercises, reading, & deep revision process.

meet with me monthly to discuss your work

read several other poetry collections of your choice, to observe how they are constructed

plan to read a draft of a manuscript by just one other poet in the course & practice the art of evaluating a peer’s work for structure & coherence

enjoy the optional private facebook group where you can connect with other poets in the program


to provide heat. to promote development

space for 6.


This course will be offered next in Winter 2018. Reach me if you would like to be added to the waiting list.

“Holly Wren Spaulding is a skilled facilitator who uses creative processes inside an atmosphere of safety to assist in accessing one’s innermost hopes, and then nurtures them into being. In working with Holly, I have learned to push the edges of my imagination and creativity. I deeply appreciate her unique ability to bring people together for synergistic sharing of self, poetry, life.” –Melissa Fournier

q & a

Are there any prerequisites for participation in this course?

You should have a minimum of fifteen poems drafted before enrolling in this course, but the more work you have to choose from, the better your manuscript will be. I will look at up to 60 poems to help you determine which will make the best body of work.

What if the poems are still in draft form?

That’s fine. You will receive feedback along the way—from me and from one peer—and there’s time built into our schedule for revision.

What if I want to do this for myself, and I’m not really interested in traditional publication?

You are welcome to join us as long as you remain eager to do your best work, and will enjoy the process of shaping and revising your collection.

Do you have publishing contacts and can you help me get published?

I will provide you with my curated list of notable and respected publishers of chapbooks. I will also guide you in the steps necessary to prepare your manuscript for eventual submission. I am not able to help you get it published, however.

What if I have no sense of whether my poems are worth putting into a collection?

During our first month together I will review your work and make recommendations as to which poems are strongest. This will provide a solid draft on which to focus your revision.

What if I haven’t written many poems yet, but I have an idea for a book I’d like to write?

I encourage you to write those poems before enrolling in ABOW; if you need support in that process, I encourage you to take a generative course with me. Many writers find that 21 and the Poetry Immersion Program are effective ways to generate work for a book.

What if I have questions along the way?

I’m always available to you via email and will do everything I can to make it an enriching experience for you. To that end, we’ll meet monthly in private tutorials (via phone or video) to address your questions and concerns.

Do you offer a payment plan?

Please get in touch if you wish to take the course, and need some time to make it work financially.

How often do you offer this course?

I teach A Body of Work once each year, from late winter until early spring, which is an ideal time to do this sort of deep, sustained creative work. The next edition will begin in February 2018. Get in touch to be on my waiting list.

I’m already taking another course with you, can I do both?

Plenty of people enjoy taking Poetry Immersion and the 21 Day Poetry Challenge before or during ABOW, as a way of generating new work. If you have the time to do both, why not; they will certainly complement one another.

“I want to thank you very much for all your help and guidance through this very critical process. I feel much more confident with the poems because of all your help.” –Arben Mehmetaj