Each year, Poets & Patrons hosts workshops, led by established poets, editors, and teachers from Illinois and surrounding states

Linda Wallin © 2017

Linda Wallin © 2017

Our Next Workshop

Debra Bruce

Debra Bruce

Chaos In Fourteen Lines:
Writing Sonnets In Your Own Words
In Our Own Times

Led by Debra Bruce

Saturday, August 24, 2019
1:00–4:00 p.m.

Harold Washington Library
400 S. State Street
Room 3rd Floor-6N

In this workshop, we will be evaluating sonnets, and how they fit into the categories of traditional, contemporary or modern. Debra Bruce will also give hints to help poets write sonnets. Here are two sonnets by Debra Bruce:

Certain Conversations In Bed 

I felt his whole body misunderstand 
as I described a woman I’d seen in the shower 
after my swim. He moved a little closer 
as if to watch her drop her soap again, 
stretching to where it slid, scooping it up. 
And then? He stirred the sheets, all innuendo. 

Had I led him all this way to show him my mind 
mixing blues to paint the tones of her thigh, 
etching or smudging the outline of her breast? 
Could I at least concede his point about my timing?— 

Now we lay in silence as she grabbed 
a gym towel off a hook and wrapped herself, 
the smack of footsteps as she walked away. 
Our sighs had a serrated edge, not quite seething. 

(Tar River Poetry Review, Spring 2019) 


A girl holds her baby on a hint of hip.
She'd never known that word before—injunction—
until the lady outside the clinic stepped
as carefully as counting and did not come
too close or shout but spoke to the core
of a girl going in, whose name she didn't know,
(Amber)—volunteers in pink at the door. Then Amber—just a few more steps to go—

walked away. Now she yanks a pillow
under her boyfriend's head—didn't he promise he'd babysit although it's not even his,
until he gets a job? And then the girl,
just like the lady said, will find a way.
She hasn't seen the lady since that day. 

(Mezzo Cammin: An Online Journal of Formal Poetry by Women, Vol 10, issue 2.) 

Optional Workshop Assignment

You may send one poem preferably a sonnet, for critique. Email it to poetsandpatrons@gmail.com (Note that this is a new address for submissions) with “Sonnet Workshop” in the subject line. If you do not have email, mail your poem to Caroline Johnson, P.O. Box 469, Willow Springs, IL 60480. Deadline: received by August 7. 

Fee: The workshop is free if you do not submit a poem. If you submit a poem for critique, the fee is $10 for non-members, $5 for members. If you submit a poem, you must pay the fee even if you do not attend the meeting because the poems are critiqued in advance (leader feedback will be mailed to you if you are unable to attend the meeting). Please pay at the meeting, or mail your check to Poets & Patrons to the treasurer Beth Staas, 1725 35th St. #2101, Oak Brook IL 60523. Membership dues of $20 are due at the beginning of the year, and can be also paid at the meeting.

Debra Bruce’s latest book of poetry Survivors’ Picnic, was published by Word Tech Press. She is the author of three previous collections, Pure Daughter and Sudden Hunger, both from the University of Arkansas Press, and What Wind Will Do, from Miami University Press. Her work has been published widely in journals, including The Atlantic, Poetry, Cincinnati Review, Salamander, and many others. Her poems can be found online in recent issues of Shenandoah and The Innisfree Poetry Journal: (http://www.authorme.com/innisfree.htm)(https://shenandoahliterary.org

Sudden Hunger received the Carl Sandburg Award from the Chicago Public Library, and Debra’s work has also received grants and prizes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, the Poetry Society of America, and Poetry magazine. She lives in Chicago where she is a professor emeritus at Northeastern Illinois University. 

Lunch with Other Poets 

Some of the poets gather at Panera, on the Southeast corner of State and Congress, between 11:30 and noon to have lunch or a cup of coffee together before the meeting. You are invited to join us there. 

Past Workshops  and

June 22, 2019

A Moment in Time

Led by Donna Pucciani and Pamela Miller

April 27, 2019 

The Name Game

Led by Gail Goepfert and Patrice Boyer Claeys

February 23, 2019 

Noir, Now

Led by Jenene Ravesloot and John O’Connor

August 25, 2018

Time for a Turn

Led by Sandra Marchetti and Krystal Languell Saturday,

June 23, 2018

A Poem in Dialogue with Another Poem

Led by Jan Bottiglieri and Tony Trigilio

April 28, 2018

Verbalize It: How the Best Action Word Can Enliven Your Poem

Led by Poets & Patrons workshop chair Wilda Morris, author of Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant.

February 24, 2018

Weaving Magic into Poetry


October 14, 2017

Golden Shovel Workshop

Led by Linda Wallin, president of Poets and Patrons and retired Special Education teacher.

August 26, 2017

Sonnets Are Fun!

Led by Mary Hanford, retired English professor and author of Holding to the Light (poetry), Dr. Sally’s Voodoo Man (novel), and Swimming at Villa Hugel (memoir).

June 18, 2017

Let Art Inspire Your Poetry: How to Be Ekphrastic

Led by Beth McDermott, Assistant Professor of English, St. Francis University, Joliet, and Associate Editor of RHINO

April 29, 2017

Speculative Poetry

Led by Caroline Johnson, Vice President and former President, Poets & Patrons of Chicago, and author of two chapbooks

February 25, 2017

What the Heck is a Prose Poem?

Led by Kathleen Rooney, Co-founder of Rose Metal Press and Senior Professional Lecturer,
DePaul University

October 29, 2016

Music as Muse

Led by Wilda Morris, Former President, Illinois State Poetry Society, and Workshop Chair, Poets & Patrons of Chicago

August 27, 2016

Using Fairy Tale, Myth and Legend in Your Poetry

Led by Jennifer Dotson, Program Coordinator, Highland Park Poetry, and winner of Journal of Modern Poetry Book Award

June 25, 2016

The Shape a Poem Makes

Led by Christine Swanberg, author of three books of poetry, workshop leader at The Clearing,
Door County, WI

April 23, 2016

What We Can Learn About Writing Poetry from Shakespeare

Led by William Yarrow, Professor of English, Joliet Junior College

February 27, 2016

In Praise of Praise Poems

Led by Tom Roby IV, President, Poets Club of Chicago and creator of The Poetry Wheel, and Jenene Ravesloot, author of three books of poetry

October 17, 2015

Surrealist Game Poetry

Led by Pamela Larson, poet, artist and photographer

August 22, 2015

Musical Matters

Led by Debra Bruce, Professor Emeritus, Northeastern Illinois University, and Andrea Witzke Slot, prize-winning novelist, poet and essayist

June 27, 2015

Writing the Spiritual Poem

Led by Judith Valente, winner of the Aldrich Poetry Prize and a Catholic Book Award, and correspondent for PBS

April 25, 2015

Love Poetry with an Attitude

Led by Marilyn Taylor, former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin

February 28, 2015

Confessional Poetry

Led by Albert DeGenova, publisher and editor of After Hours

October 25, 2014

The Fun Art of Haiku & Senryu

Led by Charlotte Digregorio, Midwest Coordinator, Haiku Society of America and author of Haiku and Senryu: a Simple Guide for All

August 23, 2014

Ekphrastic Poetry: Writing Poetry about Other Forms of Art

Led by Donna Vorreyer, author of 5 chapbooks and two full-length manuscripts, and Cynthia Gallaher, designated by Chicago Public Library as among its “Ten Top Requested Chicago Poets”

June 28, 2014

The Short Poem

Led by William Marr, author of more than 20 books of poetry and former President, Illinois State Poetry Society, and Patrick Dunn, Associate Professor of English, Aurora University

April 26, 2017

Writing Chicago

Led by Caroline Johnson, author of two chapbooks, and Wilda Morris, author of Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant

February 22, 2014

Persona Poems

Led by Martha Modena Vertreace-Doody, Distinguished Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at Kennedy-King College, and Donna Pucciani, widely published, award-winning poet