Poetry Writing Project Testimonials

The 2020 Poetry Writing Project is a year-long endeavor led by one of our stellar teaching artists, Gretchen Marquette. For the duration of the project, participants meet in a cohort with Gretchen and work on completing and editing their poems, with the goal of having a submission-ready collection by the end of the project. 

Think this could be the program for you? Check out what past participants had to say about the year they spent with our 2019 instructor, Danez Smith:


Danez's guidance has been indispensable for me. I feel so lucky to have the kind of close reading they give to all of our work. I've felt challenged and accepted throughout the process, and I feel like I've made a substantial amount of progress in my career as a poet already. I always walk out of class with a better product than I brought in.

Danez is attentive and rigorous. I ran into challenges I wasn't sure I'd be able to overcome. But in their mentorship, I've grown not just as a poet but as a person—enough to confidently address these doubts head-on!

I've been writing poetry since seventh grade, and to be honest, this is the first time in my life I not only think of poetry as a viable option but a necessary one. 

—Mike T.


I think this class is a wonderful offering. I have an MFA, and I never had a class that focused on the composition of a manuscript. It has really jived. 

I have learned so much from Danez, who is a wonderful and engaging teacher. Encouraging, honest, and so honed in their understanding of poetry. They have a ton to give. 

I completed my MFA 20 years ago. This class was an opportunity to revisit pieces of that experience and dive more deeply into areas that are in sharper focus for me now. I’m not the same writer I was 20 years ago. To show up as the writer I have become and to have Danez engage in and guide me through the questions and challenges I have now is beyond amazing. For me, the class is worth every penny.      

—Ronda R.


I have been thrilled with this class and am starting to feel sad that we are already more than half through. Danez is a gifted teacher and has obviously put a lot of thought into the preparation of the year's work. I believe that, for the most part, they have been fair and honest with all of their students in critiquing our work. I like that they push us and get us out of our comfort zones. After each class, I have felt charged with ideas and am constantly reviewing what we learned to see how I can better my own writing—and even myself. 

I highly recommend the Poetry Project to anyone who is interested in growing as an artist. The homework has been heavy and intense, but that is what I was hoping for. The accountability has given me the confidence to keep moving forward in my dream to one day be a published poet. My classmates and I are all at different levels in our journey and all have different levels of talent, but that’s welcome. Our passion is the same, and that’s what counts.    

—Audrey C.