Virtual Poetry Seminar

Course Description

"The world is a mist," writes Elizabeth Bishop, "And then the world is / minute and vast and clear." In this poetry course we will examine the world in its simultaneous mist and clarity. We will embrace poetry's embrace of the contradictory, the mysterious, the shifting, the irrational. We will read modern and contemporary poems that convey complex experience through a wide range of formal strategies, discovering and discussing the different modes of thought that poems' differing modalities inspire. Readings will include poems from Francis Ponge, Gertrude Stein, Elizabeth Bishop, Michael Palmer, among others. Weekly writing exercises will be designed to broaden the scope of each student's poetry and to generate vivid new work through formal, rhythmic, and imagistic discovery. Students will receive regular feedback on their writing.


Fifteen poets hailing from Canada, China, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and the United States took part in the seminar. Participants were selected from among a pool of nearly 150 applicants representing twenty-eight countries.



Margaret ROSS is a graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Boston Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Iowa Review, and Volt. She has taught poetry courses at the University of Iowa as a third-year teaching fellow and most recently at Cornell College.

Happening Now

  • Just completed: “Sense of Belonging,” a bilingual Iowa City + Paris-based podcast series commissioned by Walid Rachedi and produced by NFW grad students in both cities, with support of the US Embassy in Paris.

  • Word has just reached us of the sudden death, in his hometown Gdańsk, of the novelist, poet, essayist, and playwright Paweł Huelle. RIP.

  • “I regret that poems can’t serve as witnesses in military tribunals; they can only testify in the court of history,” writes Iya Kiva in an essay for the project “War Is… Ukrainian Writers on Living Through Catastrophe.”

  • Congratulations to novelists Mansoura Ez-Eldin and Taleb Al-Refai for placing on the 2023 finalist list of the prestigious Prix de la littérature arabe.


  • Samuel Kolawole’s first novel, The Road to the Salt Sea, is announced for a July 2024 release.

Find Us Online