Poetry Apprenticeship Specifics

2022 Poetry Apprenticeship Specifics 


Poetry Apprenticeship Program Description 


The time has come to gather and assemble your work. Individual poems that stand alone can, with purposeful ordering, also reinforce and illuminate each other. In this year-long apprenticeship with poet Gretchen Marquette, you’ll develop your voice through customized individual mentorship as well as cohort meetings. You’ll also receive peer and teaching mentor feedback on all stages of your poetry collection and develop a supportive community of like-minded writers and readers who are eager to engage, grow, and develop as poets. 

Over the course of your apprenticeship, you’ll find what anchors your collection, cultivate your gut feeling for a satisfying and strategic arc, and discover and articulate your work’s primary concerns. You will also discover how your collection stands in conversation with other good work being done in contemporary poetry. 

Over the course of the next calendar year, we will: 

  • Write earnestly and revise discerningly, looking, as Jane Hirshfield says, “to edit the poem in service to itself, and not the poet.” 
  • Read and discuss brilliant collections that embody everything a book of poems can be. 
  • Converse with guest poets on everything from aspects of craft to what it means to put a collection out into the world. 
  • Interview publishing industry professionals to discuss the process of bringing out a book from a publishing angle.
  • Develop the skills, artistic practice, contacts, and resources necessary to cultivate and nourish a writing life, far beyond the end of our time together. 

The 2022 Poetry Apprenticeship program includes intensive one-on-one instruction on craft, monthly cohort meetings and workshops, access to visiting writers and publishing professionals, mentorship, community, and more. 


Program Components 


Teaching Mentor Consultations 

The topics of these meetings will be wide-ranging. Their primary function is to help the poet develop skills in aspects of craft at their own pace, with a set of tools, expectations, and enough guidance to settle into and find their own artistic voice as an emerging poet. These meetings will offer a chance to discuss one-on-one the readings assigned by the teaching mentor and to get feedback on a new poem each week. We’ll also discuss ways in which to manage time, write through challenging times and creative blocks, and tend to larger concerns regarding the writing life, including where individual poems might be placed and what to do with your collection when the year is complete. 

Your teaching mentor will have a conversation with you at the start of the program where the following questions will be discussed, forming the basis of your relationship moving forward: 

  • What are your goals? Are you hoping to put a collection together for publication? Is the collection solely for your own sense of purpose and accomplishment? What is the length of your project? A chapbook? A full-length collection? If you are hoping to publish your book, have you looked into any contests or open reading periods? Do you have a sense of where you might want to submit both individual poems or a completed chapbook or manuscript?
  • Where are your strengths? In what areas of craft do you feel comfort or even mastery? What are the areas in which you’re looking to grow? What specific collections or craft texts might best help you learn structure, more compelling syntax, or original figurative language? Which books might model for you how you might put together a collection around a theme or narrative arc?
  • Which poets and poetry collections will challenge you most as a writer and critical thinker? How can reading already published collections challenge your worldview and make your writing better, stronger, and more fully developed? 


Designated Workspace at The Loft 

The teaching mentor will lead a workshop online with the full cohort one Tuesday per month from 6–9 p.m. During weeks when there are no workshops scheduled, you’ll engage with your cohort members in a virtual community workspace during the same hours that you’d regularly have class. You are welcome to use this time and space to read and write without interruption, to form smaller workshop groups within your cohort, to discuss texts, or for any other reason that you feel would help you honor your need for community and sacred reading and writing time. 





There is a required orientation meeting on Thursday, January 25, 2022, 6–7:30 p.m., online, via Zoom. Meeting info will be sent in January to participants 


Winter/Spring Term 2022 



Tuesday Evenings, 6–9 p.m. 

  • Full cohort meetings: February 1, 8, 15, and 22, 2022
  • Weekly one-on-one meetings with teaching mentor 



Tuesday Evenings, 6–9 p.m. 

  • 1st–3rd Tuesday of the month: online group cohort meetings (without your teaching mentor, who meets with each cohort member individually these weeks)
  • 4th Tuesday of the month: full cohort workshop (with your teaching mentor)
  • Weekly one-on-one meeting with your teaching mentor 
  • Your final one-on-one in April will last an additional 30 minutes. With the help of your teaching mentor, you’ll create a plan for making the best use of your summer months. 
  • Final class of winter/spring term: April 19, 2022 



During May, the focus is on your own writing and on reading assignments customized for you by your teaching mentor. Some poets will use this time to rest and regroup. Poets attempting to complete a collection will attempt eight to ten new drafts each month, May–August. 

Visiting poet (TBA) 

During the month of May you’ll also have exclusive access to one or more of The Loft’s Wordplay authors and/or publishing industry professionals, in the form of a cohort meet and greet/conversation on craft/Q&A. 


Summer Term 2022 



  • May 30–June 3: work independently 
  • June 6–10: one-on-one meeting scheduled with Gretchen for this week
  • June 13–19: work independently 
  • June 25: online cohort workshop, 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. 
  • June 26–July2: work independently 

During the month of June, your virtual classroom is available from 6–9 p.m. on Tuesdays. In previous years, this has been an important component, with cohorts choosing to workshop, provide each other with prompts, and read and discuss work by published poets they admire. 



  • July 4–10: work independently 
  • July 11–17: one-on-one meeting scheduled with Gretchen for this week
  • July 18–24: work independently 
  • July 30: online cohort workshop, 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. 

Visiting Poet (TBA) 

During the month of July, your virtual classroom is available from 6-9pm on Tuesdays.



  • August 1–7: work independently 
  • August 8–14: one-on-one meeting scheduled with Gretchen for this week
  • August 15–19: work independently 
  • August 20: online cohort workshop, 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. 
  • August 22–31: work independently 

During the month of August, your virtual classroom is available from 6–9 p.m. on Tuesdays. 


Fall Term 2022


Tuesday Evenings, 6–9 p.m. 

  • 1st–3rd Tuesday of the month: online group cohort meetings (without your teaching mentor, who meets with each cohort member individually these weeks)
  • 4th Tuesday of the month: full cohort workshop (with your teaching mentor)
  • Weekly one-on-one meeting with your teaching mentor 

*No Class November 22 

*Final Class December 13, 2022

During the fall term, you’ll have exclusive access to one or more of the Loft’s Wordsmith conference authors and/or publishing industry professionals, in the form of a cohort meet and greet/conversation on craft/Q&A. 

Final Public Reading 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023, 7 p.m., online, via Zoom 


Visiting Authors and Publishing Professionals 


In addition to the Wordsmith and Wordplay authors you will meet, you will have access to many visiting agents and authors from a variety of agencies and publishing houses. 

Past visiting poets and industry professionals include: 

  • Ross Gay 
  • Danez Smith 
  • Jim Moore 
  • Elena Cisneros 
  • D. Allen
  • Roy Guzmán 
  • Hieu Minh Nguyen 
  • Richard Blanco 
  • Mira Jacob 
  • Laila Lalami 
  • Courtney Maum 
  • Rumaan Alam 
  • Joey McGarvey, editor and former editor for Milkweed Editions
  • Chantz Erolin, editor at Graywolf Press 
  •  Jeff Shotts, executive editor at Graywolf Press 

The purpose of these visits is to introduce students to powerful collections of poetry and the people who wrote them. Please take advantage of the opportunity to ask thoughtful questions and listen attentively to the answers. These visits will be largely informal and include ample opportunity for interaction. 


The Reading 


Along with a short list of common books that will be read alongside your cohort, a reading list of craft texts, interviews, essays, and poetry collections will be customized for you by your teaching mentor based on your aesthetics, interests, and those areas where you’re looking to grow and develop. 

Past reading lists have included: 

  • Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky 
  • The Black Maria by Aracelis Girmay 
  • Like a Beggar by Ellen Bass 
  • Requiem for the Orchard by Oliver de la Paz 
  • Book of Hours by Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Diván d el Tamarit by Federico Garcia Lorca 
  • Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith 
  • Quiver of Arrows by Carl Phillips 
  • I Wish I Had a Heart Like Yours, Walt Whitman by Jude Nutter 
  • Narrow Road to the Interior by Kimiko Hahn 
  • Haiku by Richard Wright 
  • Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds 
  • Life on Mars by Tracy K Smith 
  • Blessing The Boats by Lucille Clifton 
  • Not Here by Hieu Minh Nguyen 
  • Forest Primeval by Vievee Francis 
  • Black Aperture by Matt Rasmussen 
  • Whereas by Layli Long Soldier 


The Workshop 


The purpose of the workshop component is to help poets see their work in a new light, to ask thoughtful questions of their peers, and to generate new energy for revising. To this end, we will be using Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process workshop model, a supportive and writer-centered process that puts the control in the artist’s hands. We will learn more about this in class, but on a basic level, workshops function like so: 

  • The readers will state for the writer what is working. Readers provide statements of meaning—what was memorable, interesting, and engaging about the work.
  • The writer asks question about their poetry. (Ex: “What part of the poem held the most weight for you?” or “How did you interpret the ending of this piece?”) The readers answer the questions without suggesting changes. 
  • The readers ask the writer neutral questions about their work. (Ex: “How did you make the decision to place this poem in couplets?” or “Where do you feel the core of the poem is located?”) 
  • The readers ask the writer for permission to offer opinions about the submitted work. (Ex: “I have an opinion on the poem’s title if you’d like to hear it.”)
  • The writer ends the workshop by briefly discussing how the workshop went, any ideas they have for revision, asks for any clarification, etc. 

The work you share with your peers should be relatively polished and sophisticated. This is not to say it needs to be “perfect” or “complete.” (This would obviously eliminate the need for a workshop.) However, the work should be well-written and carefully presented. Each workshop will last between 45–60 minutes. 


The End of Term 


At the end of the apprenticeship, students will be expected to submit their final and complete manuscript. The teaching mentor will: 

  • Read each submission (up to 70 pages) and provide a written critique of the creative work (one to two typewritten pages). 
  • Meet individually with each poet to present the critique and answer what questions remain. 
  • Discuss next steps in each poet’s artistic life—from continued growth as a writer to places in the world that may be receptive to the work produced, from publishing opportunities to simple submission practices 

Final manuscripts will be due on the last day of the apprenticeship, in the fall term (December 13, 2022). If poets finish prior to then, please submit them early. The teaching mentor will be reading 12 collections at the end of this year, and any head starts will be much appreciated. Final manuscript consultations will be completed by February 28, 2023; there are no exceptions to this time frame possible. At this time, poets will move beyond their apprenticeship and will become emerging public poets. 

Emerging poets will be asked to give a final, public reading from their collection in a virtual reading space, on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. 

Each reading will be a selection of poems, about five to seven minutes long. Consider this a celebration! 

Please note: Final manuscripts must be properly formatted and turned in no later than Tuesday, December 13, 2022, which is the final date of the program. Single-sided manuscripts only. Pages must be numbered. It is the responsibility of each poet to finish their manuscript by the final class meeting. If a student fails to complete it, the teaching mentor will only read what has been submitted on the final day of class. 

Please note: Enrolling in this apprenticeship does not ensure publication of your book. However, part of this program is designed to help emerging poets locate potential good homes for their work and to help navigate the process of sending new work out for consideration. The teaching mentor has read more than 1,500 book-length submissions for various national poetry contests; she is well equipped to understand what publishing houses, contests, journals, and magazines are seeking with regards to submissions and can help each poet to develop their own unique voice while shaping a collection into something others will be interested in picking up. 


Gretchen Marquette earned her MFA in poetry from Hamline University, where she served as the assistant poetry editor for Water~Stone Review. Her work has appeared in Harper'sTin House, Poetry, the Paris Review, and other places. Her first book, May Day, was released by Graywolf Press in 2016 and was nominated for a Minnesota Book Award. She lives in the Powderhorn neighborhood in South Minneapolis, and teaches at various colleges and universities in the Twin Cities.