Animals in Poems: Reading and Writing Poems of Creatures Real and Imagined

SOLD OUT. To be placed on the wait list, email Cybele Knowles at

Six Mondays, February 2 to March 9, 6:15 to 8:00 p.m.
and Saturday, February 28, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for a field trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum*
Registration: $170.00 + $10.00 course material fee = $180.00
*Workshop fee does not include ASDM entrance fee

Watch a video of Simmons talking about this workshop.

Animals real and imagined have long been a source of faith and fable, friendship and fear, escape and inquiry – in short: poetic inspiration. Indeed, creatures provide rich metaphor, image, and form for poetry. But whose perspective do they present? In 1794 William Blake asked of the jungle cat:

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Is the animal poem, then, about the animal or its creator? The wildness inside or the wilderness outside? In this class we’ll explore these questions as we travel the literary habitats of animals. We’ll dedicate half of our time to reading and discussing poems of animals, drawing on the long history of creatures in poetry, with a particular focus on contemporary work. We’ll spend the rest of our time on poetry-writing exercises and workshopping of student poems.  One class will be held in the field, a morning at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

All students receive a custom anthology of animal poems. Students can expect to write between four and eight poems over the course of the class, and at least one poem will be workshopped by other students. This class is open to writers of all skill levels, with readings and exercises that challenge and delight the novice and advanced poet alike.