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 immersive course offers commited 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’ve designed this ten-week course to provide you with structure, creative community, and accountability during the demanding & exciting process of creating a chapbook manuscript (10-30 pp), whether you wish to submit it for publication, or simply learn how books are built, using your own poems.

in 2018, this course will take place for the first time in an online classroom, hosted by Pathwright, where we can freely interact, discuss the course content, and share our work in progress.

as your facilitator, I’ll ask powerful questions, push the work where it needs to go further, & help you find an appropriate 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.

twice during the session, I’ll read your work for what unifies it aesthetically, thematically, conceptually, or otherwise, & provide written feedback on individual poems.

I’ll address your specific questions and concerns during live video workshops & in private monthly tutorials.

with the support of helpful essays, writing exercises & the examination of how other books of poems are made, we’ll achieve a clearer understanding of what’s possible with your poems, even if they are still in progress.

this once-per year course is limited to 6 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.

gather your poems. allow me to help you see the ones that have the most potential for a manuscript.

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

meet with me privately to discuss your work.

read other poetry collections of your choice, to study how they are constructed.

swap work with one other poet in our group for peer feedback.

enjoy the sense of completion when you’ve assembled a working manuscript to continue polishing outside the course.


to provide heat. to promote development

January 26-March 30, 2018

space for 6.


Enroll now.

“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 before enrolling in this course, however the more work you have to choose from, the fun it will be to craft your manuscript. Early in the session, I will invite you to show me up to 50 poems-in-progress, so that I can 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. Don’t wait until you’ve perfected your poems as revising a manuscript requires a different mindset than revising individual poems. We’ll do it together.

What if I want to do this course for myself, and I’m not currently interested in pursuing publication?

You are welcome to join us as long as you are committed to doing your best work, and will enjoy the process of shaping and revising your collection. Traditional publication is not the only path, and I am here to offer other ways to make your work real in the world.

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, and show the most potential in relation to one another. This will yield a first draft on which to focus your revision efforts.

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 offer effective pathways to new work. Many of my students have completed books this way!

What if I have questions along the way?

I will be active in the discussions within our online portal, answering questions and engaging with you and the materials. I’m always available to you via email and will do everything I can to make the course an enriching experience for you. Our cohort will meet twice in a live webinar setting, and you are entitled to meet with me 1×1 for a private consultation after I’ve read your first draft. If you wish to book additional coaching sessions, the charge is $100 for 50 minutes.

How often do you offer this course?

I teach A Body of Work once each year, beginning in late winter, which is an ideal time to do deep, sustained creative work. The next session begins in January 2018.

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

If you have the time to do more than one, why not; they will certainly complement one another, especially if you are taking a generative course at the same time.

How much time will I want to give to this course each week?

You’ll get the best results if you can commit at least four hours each week to this course, with most of that focused on your own writing and revision, although I will give weekly reading assignments, and offer writing exercises along the way. Very often participants find that as we get further into the session, and their manuscript begins to take shape, it’s natural and enjoyable to spend even more on the coursework.

What kind of technology is required to participate in A Body of Work?

Our online classroom is hosted by Pathwright, which provides an intuitive learning environment and private space in which to gather. You will be given an orientation at the beginning of the course. Our live workshops take place on Zoom, a free app that you can download on your phone or desktop computer. As long as you have access to the internet—whether at home, in a public library, or elsewhere—you should be able to keep up with the course.

Do I need to show up at specific times during this course?

Each week a new module unlocks, and you can do the work on your own time—much like an independent study. We will meet for two live video workshops (in Weeks 2 & 6), and you also have the option of scheduling private tutorials with me, which can be done according to whatever time works for you. I am sensitive to the fact that our cohort may include people in different time zones, and always plan with everyone’s needs in mind. All live classes are recorded for viewing later, in case you have to miss them for some reason.

Do you offer a payment plan?

I am happy to work with you to make this course work for you. I require a 50% deposit at registration, with the full balance due at least one week before the course begins. Please contact me to arrange this.

I was hoping to do this course with a friend/writing buddy/lover/spouse. Do you offer discounts?

This course is limited to six participants so I am not currently able to offer any discounts. Please enroll separately, but I encourage you to work closely together on the homework, share your work in progress, and serve as accountability partners. Those who do this course with a friend seem to find it that much more stimulating!

“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