Talking to Yourself
with Jessica Purdy

starting January 25, 2023

The epistolary (or ‘letter’) poem can be a great exercise in directly addressing someone. In this workshop, we’ll read and write poems that push the boundaries of this form beyond the basic notion of writing a letter. Based on our life experiences and the things that have affected us deeply, we’ll gather ideas about who or what we’d like to speak to in our poems and what is important to tell them. These things can be people, places, objects, emotions, colors, or even ghosts. You name it.

Through deep reading of example poems (“Having it Out with Melancholy” by Jane Kenyon, “Self Portrait as Letter Addressed to Self” by J. Michael Martinez, “Letter to NY” by Elizabeth Bishop, and more), we’ll seek the broad possibilities inherent in the freedom of the epistolary: these poems don’t have to begin with “Dear ___” but can argue with, quarrel, praise, and tell secrets to the subject.

Who doesn’t talk to themselves throughout their day? Some people talk out loud to themselves when they’re alone. I know I do. Let’s tap into this almost unconscious dialogue we have with ourselves. Is there someone you wish would write to you? We can even imagine a persona that writes that letter to us. Or imagine letters we’d like to write but would never send. Writers will leave with at least four poem drafts by responding to prompts and poem examples and doing in-class writing. Each class will leave enough time to share what we’ve written.

Three-week workshop:

  • Wednesday, January 25 (7pm–8:30pm EST)
  • Wednesday, February 1 (7pm–8:30pm EST)
  • Wednesday, February 8 (7pm–8:30pm EST)

Seats available: 15

Workshop fee: $50 Canadian

Jessica Purdy is the author of Learning the Names (Finishing Line Press, 2015), STARLAND (Nixes Mate, 2017), and Sleep in a Strange House (Nixes Mate, 2018), a finalist for the NH Literary Award for poetry. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many journals, including Menacing Hedge, The Night Heron Barks, Radar, SoFloPoJo, Harpy Hybrid, and long con magazine. She is poetry editor for the anthology Ten Piscataqua Writers 2022. Follow her on Twitter and her website,

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