Write-by-the-Lake retreat invites poets to practice, improve, and play

poetry blocks

Two award-winning Wisconsin poets will help students dive deep, write brilliant poems, and elevate their work to a publishable level at the upcoming Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop and Retreat.

CX Dillhunt
CX Dillhunt: “To me, poetry is a game—a way to play with life by playing with words.”

But these instructors also want experienced and budding bards to relish the process.

“To me, poetry is a game—a way to play with life by playing with words,” said CX Dillhunt.

Marilyn Taylor added, “A poet has to harbor an ongoing love for language and must deeply enjoy manipulating it, rearranging it, and playing with it.”

The poetry workshops are two of 13 geared toward both emerging and established writers. On June 11-15, Write-by-the-Lake includes sessions on novels, literary memoirs, blogging, picture books, nonfiction, and flash fiction, as well as the process of getting published. Classes overlook lovely Lake Mendota at the UW Pyle Center.

Taylor was poet laureate of both Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. She has six poetry collections in print, most recently Step on a Crack (Kelsay Books). She’s currently associate editor at Third Wednesday and Verse-Virtual.

Dillhunt is the author of Things I’ve Never Told Anyone (Parallel Press), Girl Saints (Fireweed), and Double Six, a chapbook with his son. He received the 2012 Wisconsin People and Ideas award and is the editor of Hummingbird: Magazine of the Short Poem.

“Both of these poets are unique because of the sheer delight they take in teaching poetry,” said Christine DeSmet, director of Write-by-the-Lake “They are much-loved teachers totally devoted to making poetry enjoyable for others.”

New stylistic strategies

DeSmet believes writing poetry under professional guidance is not only fun, but can also help all writers find new ways of expressing themselves. “Poetry teaches economy in our communications; we learn how just a few words might be more powerful than a paragraph or page of prose.”

Marilyn Taylor
Marilyn Taylor: “Nothing is more valuable for a poem in progress than good, honest feedback from a great poetry workshop.”

Taylor’s section at the retreat, “How to Write Brilliant Poems in Form,” will have writers experimenting with a variety of traditional poetic arrangements—from sonnet to sestina and beyond. She’ll equip participants with new stylistic strategies for their poetic bag-of-tricks.

“Participants will find themselves combining the freedom of creativity with the music of the venerable old forms,” she said. “They’re likely to surprise themselves with some remarkable new poems.”

In “Silence & Noise & the Daily Shock of Practicing Your Own Poetry: How to Make Poems Work on the Page for You & for Your Readers,” Dillhunt invites new and seasoned poets to delve deeper into the craft. “I have my students do what I do—write and write some more. Then stop, take a look—word by word and line by line—and invite others to take a look.”

Both Taylor and Dillhunt agree that writers find profound value in working and sharing with each other.

“Nothing is more valuable for a poem in progress than good, honest feedback from a great poetry workshop,” said Taylor. “At Write-by-the-Lake, even when you’re taking a break from your projects, you remain in the company of writers, faculty, and staff making up an extraordinarily supportive and like-minded community.”

To learn more or to register, see the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop and Retreat website. Register by May 14 for the early bird fee. For additional information, contact Christine DeSmet, christine.desmet@wisc.edu, 608-262-3447.


Up on Pasqueflower Hill

Four TV towers
plus seven water steeple
one state capitol

new notice worried
with ink jet color photo
cat’s gone all winter

-CX Dillhunt


Father Goose

Mel, Mel, the Dad from Hell
Raised your kids in a padded cell.
Not one soul cried the night you died,
But Mother giggled like a bride.

-Marilyn L. Taylor