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Explore Ways of Looking, and Looking like a Poet, with Kathryn Kirkpatrick

Kathryn Kirkpatrick
BOONE, NC—So often, we look without truly seeing. Our eyes pass over familiar objects and use past experiences to make assumptions and draw conclusions whenever we see something new. Yet as poets, we need to train ourselves to look in new and different ways. In so doing, we can elevate our poems beyond the expected ordinary.

At the NCWN Squire Summer Writing Workshops 2021, July 22-25, at Appalachian State University in Boone, Kathryn Kirkpatrick will lead the workshop “About Looking: Poetry.”

Space is limited; registration is open.

In this seminar-workshop class, we will read several essays from John Berger’s illuminating book about how we see what we see. We’ll write poems inspired by Berger’s ideas, including those in his famous “Why Look at Animals?” as well as his essays about photography, painting, and sculpture. By exploring how we “look,” one of our aims will be to spark vivid description in poems. And since ekphrasis means “description” in Greek, we’ll engage in the imaginative act of reflecting on a painting, sculpture, or photograph in our poems as well as learning from other poets who have looked at art expansively in their work.

Registrants are encouraged, but not required, to purchase and read John Berger’s About Looking before the Squire Workshops begin.

Each registrant should be ready to handle the intensive instruction and atmosphere of this workshop.

Kathryn Kirkpatrick is the author of seven collections of poetry, including three recipients of the NC Poetry Society’s Brockman-Campbell award, The Body’s Horizon (1996), Our Held Animal Breath (2012), and Her Small Hands Were Not Beautiful (2014). The Fisher Queen: New & Selected Poems (Salmon, 2019) received the NC Literary and Historical Society’s Roanoke Chowan Poetry Prize. Although she grew up in the nomadic subculture of the U.S. Air Force and spent her childhood in the Philippines, Texas, and Germany, she has lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains for many years, where she teaches environmental literature, animal studies, Irish studies, and creative writing as Professor of English at Appalachian State University. As a literary scholar, she has published essays on class trauma, eco-feminist poetics, and animal studies. She is the editor of Border Crossings: Irish Women Writers and National Identities (2000) and co-editor with Borbala Farago of Animals in Irish Literature and Culture (2015).

The NCWN Squire Summer Writing Workshops 2021 offer fifteen hours of workshop time in a single genre with a single instructor. Registration is capped, allowing plenty of time and space for registrants to get to know one another and learn one another’s work. Additional weekend highlights include Faculty Readings, Open Mics, group writing activities, conversations, and more.

“We’re very grateful to be able to offer in-person events again,” said NCWN Executive Director Ed Southern. “SW21 will have all the inclusiveness and creativity our members have come to expect from an NCWN event, while also keeping everyone safe.”

Zackary Vernon will lead the creative nonfiction workshop. The fiction workshop, led by Mark Powell, is full.

Out of an abundance of caution, some changes have been made to ensure the well-being of the attendees. For 2021, there will be no “tag-along” registrations; only those who attend workshops will be allowed to use overnight accommodations at ASU. The “Shared Campus Room” registration option is only available to attendees who live in the same household. Commuters are still very welcome.

For more information about the NCWN Squire Summer Writing Workshops 2021, and to register, click here.

Support for these workshops is provided by the NC Arts Council, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, and the family of Chick and Elizabeth Daniels Squire.

The non-profit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit