May 24

Breaking the Sentence: From Experimental Lyric to Cognitive Poetics

In this informal workshop, we will explore the lyric's potential for engaging with, but reaching beyond its testimonial and confessional aspects, breaking with the syntax of the sentence and putting language and its embodiment first. Exploring a brief selection of poems by Phil Hall and Sina Queyras and finishing with a short writing exercise, we will explore the liberating potential in the experimental lyric's ability to reach underneath narrative to communicate the unsayable.

Participants should bring some paper, writing utensils, and the desire to mash together different poetic forms just to see what happens.

Jennifer Baker

Doctoral Candidate and Part-Time Professor at the University of Ottawa
June 14

Getting to Book

This workshop will help emerging poets assess their progress towards their first book of poems and make plans to get a full manuscript to publication.

Rhonda Douglas

The author of Some Days I Think I Know Things: The Cassandra Poems, (Signature Editions, 2008) and Welcome to the Circus: Stories (Freehand Books, 2015).
June 28

Gender, sexual orientation and voice in poetry

A brief sampling of the use of gender and sexual orientation as strong components in poetic voice. Participants are encouraged to bring an example of their own or another writer’s poetry that they feel consciously relies on gender and/or sexual orientation as an element of voice, for group discussion.

Anita Dolman

Poet, short fiction writer, editor and reviewer

about Tree Seed Workshops


Since 2009, Tree has been offering a series of one-hour poetry workshops to take a closer look into poetry, techniques, forms and close reads of particular poems.  They are a mix of presentation, exercise and discussion.  Bring a pen and paper. 


It is a sort of open university to nurture younger in the craft poets, increase the depth and breadth of their knowledge base. It aims to help poets form a community of peers as well as inform their poetics as faciliators act as catalyst for a particular aspect of poetry which lights their fires.


The events are free to anyone who wishes to attend. They are held in the usual Tree venue between 6:45 and 7:45 on regular Tree evenings, with doors opening at 6:30.


PAST foci & Facilitators


Brecken Hancock on confessional, Murray Citron on poetry of the Shoah experience,  JM Francheteau on personae poems, Phil Hall on the constraints of Larry Eigner, Mark Goldstein on homolinguistic transtranslation and nature of translation using an example of Catallus,  Peter Richardson and John Steffler  each roundtabled poems of participants, Sylvia Adams led a workshop on salvaging a problem poem, Stephen Brockwell spoke on French-Canadian poetry including Saint -Denys Barneau, Claude Gauvreau, Gaston Miron, Paul Marie Lapointe, Nicole Brossard and more, and Luminita Suse showed tanka, the form and history, related forms and contemporary practice.


Frances Boyle on Open Sesame and Ariadne's Thread/using forms to get to wild mind, Phil Jenkins on readability, Jenna Tenn-Yuk on negotiating the complexities of your identity & on facing fears, Pierre Brault on comparison of lessons & practice in poetry vs. stand-up comedy, Jennifer Pederson  on how to use different kinds of mics and your voice, and Bruce Taylor on using sound's power of euphony and cacophony looking at close reads from Edith Sitwell to Charles Olsen, Stephen Morrissey to Mary Oliver, Louis Dudek to Derek Walcott, and a look at nonsense and riddle verse.


Claudia Radmore on linking and shifting the tone and content in renga, Jenny Sampirisi on hybrid texts that cross genres looking at Beckett, Cixous, Anne Carson and John Cage, John Koengen on stage presence, using your breath, being in your body, Gwynn Scheltema with an intro to OULIPO such as The N + 7 Exercise and homophonic translation, Brandon Wint on imagery and sensuality, Christine McNair on the material of books: how to choose paper and the group doing a few bindings, Stuart Ross on poem techniques after Joe Brainard, Bruce Kauffman on guided stream of consciousness, Cathy MacDonald-Zytveld with 10 writing prompts and exercise with projecting your voice. 


Jeff Latosik on switching the POV of classic poems; Alfred Lord Tennyson's "The Lotus Eaters" made contemporary, Lesley Strutt roundtabling a discussion of the challenges of translating poetry, Jay Millar on the long poem with examples of Christopher Dewdney and others in The New Long Poem Anthology,  Brenda Leifso doing how-poems-work in magical realism, Ian Keteku with exercises to extend a metaphor and finding fresh phrasings. 


Monty Reid on the connection between place and poetry, mapping and the muse, making a poetry map of Ottawa,  Robin Macdonald on yoga body/mind listening in finding your direction as a poet, Roland Prevost round tabling our motivations for writing, LM Rochefort on the bilingual poem, Imagistes, cut up poetry, collage poetry and techniques for projecting your voice, Guy Simser on tanka's developments overseas and in North America, Barbara Myers on pov; alienated insiders or as outsiders wanting in, and close reads of poems to consider syntax work for you, Ikenna Onyegbula teaching strucure and memory techniques in spoken word, Terry Ann Carter on glosas of women writers, Akiko Yosano, beat poets including Gary Snyder, and using found text.


Cameron Anstee looking at the personal poem and the list poem with examples from Frank O'Hara, Ted Berrigan and Jim Smith, Mike Buckthought on ancient Greek epigrams, Glenn Kletke on stanza types and effects of line breaks and stanza breaks on sense, Phil Hall on triptychs and roundtabling poems, Sandra Ridley on linear vs. oblique and risk vs. silence, rob mclennan on writing from language and from other writers from PENN sound, Claudia Coutu Radmore on the beauty of juxtaposition and a look at senryu, and Ronnie R Brown on using line and stanza breaks to enhance your poetry, and on finding an effective title and Pearl Pirie on frames of poetic values, sestinas, combining the material of disparate poems, use of space & punctuation, and rhythm.




The sessions provide a time and space for people  to talk about poetic practice and techniques, a close read of how poems can work, why poetry works and how to present ideas.


The time can deepen each participant's foundations and widen the explorations of our poetry community to become better readers, writers and editors.


Developing organically, each facilitator acts as a unique catalyst, bringing a special angle and passion on craft and practice in poetry. Most provide examples and/or exercises for the focus subject, technique, poet or poetry school. Some are hands-on. Some sessions are presenter-presentations. Some session are time for getting more eyes on a piece brought in to share or made in the time (with safe group feedback).  If you have someone you would like to hear or something you would like to hear about, contact 




We're looking for feedback on how we've been doing. As someone who has attended a Tree Seed Workshop would you like to fill in the 10-question survey?
It should take no more than 5 minutes.