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Squire Summer Writing Workshops Instructor Spotlight: Amber Flora Thomas

We’re excited to have Amber Flora Thomas lead “Axis Poetry: A Generative Workshop” at the 2024 Squire Summer Writing Workshops, Thursday—Sunday, July 25—28, on the campus of East Carolina University in Greenville.

Thomas is the author of three collections of poetry: Eye of Water, which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize; The Rabbits Could Sing; and most recently Red Channel in the Rupture. A recipient of the Dylan Thomas American Poet Prize, the Richard Peterson Poetry Prize, and the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize, her poetry has appeared in Orion MagazineColorado ReviewAlaska Quarterly ReviewEcotone, and Tin House, as well as numerous other journals and anthologies. She is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at East Carolina University.

We recently asked Thomas what she’s reading, how she spends her free time, what registrants can expect from her poetry workshop, and what local spots she recommends checking out in Greenville.

NCWN: What are you currently reading?

AFT: I just finished Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shirley Van Pelt and The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher—my start of summer fiction binge. I’ve been picking up and putting down, Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World by Barry Lopez, a book I’m savoring since Lopez died in 2020. Next up are A Hard Place to Leave by Marcia DeSanctis and a little bump in the earth by Tyree Daye. 

NCWN: What is one book by a North Carolina author you love?

AFT: Hell of a Book by Jason Mott is the most recent book by a North Carolina writer that I fell in love with, but it’s hard to pick. We have so many incredible writers in NC, living and dead.

NCWN: Beyond writing and reading, how do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies? 

AFT: My next passion after writing is crafting and art. I make windchimes, birdfeeders, and different kinds of art using driftwood, shell, and upcycled dishware. I think most of my friends have two to twenty of my pieces hanging in their homes and yards. Also, I’m an avid animal rights advocate and have been engaged with TNR and rescue groups in Beaufort County since 2013. I’ve made a concerted effort take a much-needed break from fostering this year, but we live in a place with few resources for a ballooning population of neglected cats and dogs, so it is hard not to get drawn in constantly. 

NCWN: What do you hope participants take away from your poetry workshop at the Squire Summer Writing Workshops?

AFT: I hope participants will leave the workshop having generated some new work, having found community, and feeling emboldened to write in brave new structures that will get their poetry noticed.

NCWN: What local spots would you recommend checking out to workshop attendees visiting the Greenville area for the first time?

AFT: Make sure you get up early one morning and head down to the Tar River. A walk along the Greenway trail is good for the soul. The wildlife is plenty, and the shade is abundant along most trails.

There is still time to sign up for “Axis Poetry: A Generative Workshop” with Amber Flora Thomas at the 2024 Squire Summer Writing Workshops. Register today to join us!

Axis Poetry: A Generative Workshop with Amber Flora Thomas

This workshop will provide space and time for participants to generate new poems, evaluate existing poems, and engage with tool building activities to inspire revision. Our time will be divided between the critique of existing poems and generative prompts. We will explore contemporary free verse poetry whose forms are inspired by nature with a particular attention to the turn, caesura, and other transformational pivots. The environment in this workshop is one of support and encouragement, welcoming self-expression, and development for writers at all levels. Participants will submit three poems (8 pages maximum) in advance of the workshop, all of which should not have been in a workshop elsewhere. Total immersion in poetry for this three-day workshop will give participants a burst of energy and inspiration to meet future writing projects.