Crafting Novels in Verse: Workshop and Retreat

In-Person | Novels, Poetry
From start to finish, the skills needed to craft a verse novel are unique– part poetry, part narrative, all heart.

May 21, 2023 - May 24, 2023

Highlights Foundation Campus

$1299

Overview

In-person 4-Day/3-Night Workshop and Retreat

From start to finish, the skills needed to craft a verse novel are unique– part poetry, part narrative, all heart. Join verse novelists Rajani LaRocca and Chris Baron, with special guest Cordelia Jensen, to explore this emotionally packed form of storytelling. We also include ample private retreat time so that you can write, wander, and connect with fellow poets.

  • This is an in-person workshop at our Retreat Center with lectures, writing exercises, workshopping, and faculty consultations.
  • We include ample time to relax, retreat, and work on your own writing.
  • Lodging and meals are included.
  • Begins at with dinner 5:30pm Eastern on Sunday, May 21, 2023
  • Ends with lunch at 12:00pm-1:00pm Eastern on Wednesday, May 24, 2023
  • 16 participants max

Why This Workshop?

The craft of writing a verse novel depends heavily on your understanding of poetic vehicles and narrative movement. Join this workshop and retreat to learn the skills of pacing, poetry, verse structure, and form.

You’ll have personal writing time to retreat and continue your work-in-progress, and daily lectures and hands-on exercises that help you:

  • Understand poetic conventions
  • Overcome limitations of the form
  • Find the heart, theme, and needs of your narrative
  • Workshop your project, no matter where you are in its progress (idea, drafting, or revision)

You’ll also enjoy small group workshopping, and the opportunity to meet privately with a faculty reader to discuss your project and brainstorm next steps.

Feedback Expected

  • Informal feedback throughout the workshop via discussions.
  • A 1:1 consultation with faculty during the workshop. You may submit up to 3 individual poems and a cover letter that explains where you are in your verse novel (just starting, drafting, or revising) and questions that you have for your faculty reader. This submission can be the same or different from your small group submission. Submissions are due for faculty review by May 1, 2023.
  • Small group workshopping time of up to 3 poems with peers. (Groupings will based on progress in your novel: idea, drafting, or revision.) Submissions for your peer group are due May 14, 2023.

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You have a novel in verse in its early stages and need help completing the process. Daily sessions with faculty will explore important elements of novels in verse, and one-to-one feedback will point you in the right direction.
  • You are a middle grade or young adult writer who has an idea that might work as a verse novel. We’ll be analyzing what makes the creation of a novel in verse different from a prose novel, and you’ll have free writing time to make a start.
  • You have a finished a novel in verse and need strategies for revision. We will be examining outstanding examples of the form and giving you strong revision strategies.
  • You’d like a retreat where you can work on new poems. There will be ample free writing time built into this course so that you can make progress on your own verse novel.

Detailed Agenda

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.

Pre-Workshop
  • You will receive a link to our virtual classroom where you can introduce yourself to fellow writers, engage in Highlights Foundation related resources (including our Community Standards), and view submission details related to this course.
  • Submissions due for faculty review by May 1, 2023. In preparation for a 1:1 consultation with faculty during the workshop, you may submit up to 3 individual poems and a cover letter that explains where you are in your verse novel (just starting, drafting, or revising), and questions that you have for your faculty reader.
  • Submissions for your peer group due by May 14, 2023. In preparation for small group workshopping time with peers, you’ll submit up to 3 poems.  Groupings will based on your progress in your novel: idea, drafting, or revision.) This submission can be the same or different from your faculty review submission.
  • You should make time before the workshop to read submissions from your peer group.
Day 1: Sunday, May 21
  • 3pm – 5pm Eastern: Arrival and check in
  • 5:30pm Eastern: Appetizers & Dinner
  • Following dinner: Introductions & Opening Presentation
Day 2: Monday, May 22

Morning:

  • Breakfast
  • Presentation #2
  • Writing Exercise
  • Private Writing and Retreat Time

Afternoon:

  • Lunch
  • Small Group Workshopping (groups based on progress —idea, drafting, or revision)
  • Private Writing and Retreat Time

Evening:

  • Appetizers & Dinner
  • After Dinner: Fireside Chat
Day 3: Tuesday, May 23

Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Presentation #3
  • Writing Exercise
  • Private Writing and Retreat Time

Afternoon

  • Lunch
  • 1:1 Consultations with Faculty
  • OPTIONAL Peer-led Workshopping
  • Private Writing and Retreat Time while not in meetings

Evening

  • Appetizers & dinner
  • After dinner: Open Mic & Sharing
Day 4: Wednesday, May 24

Morning

  • Breakfast
  • Presentation: Revision from Multiple Perspectives
  • Ask Us Anything: Writing, Revision, Submissions, and more!
  • Closing Writing Exercise & Sharing

Afternoon

  • Lunch and farewells
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Commitment Required for the Best Experience

As an in-person event at our Retreat Center, you’ll have a chance to step away from everyday life to experience the workshop. We try to build in breaks and independent time so you have space for your personal needs. While we encourage participation in all group events, we know that as an adult learner you can decide if you need more time to yourself. Please let someone from our staff or faculty know if you plan to step away from group activities.

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

Another commitment that will help you get the most from this workshop is submitting your poems on the submission due dates (faculty review submission due on May 1; small group submission due on May 14).

How It Impacts Kids

Novels in verse impact readers in powerful ways. Bring yours to life by learning more about the form and working on your draft.

Testimonials from Our Community

“The faculty was friendly, helpful, patient, accessible. I felt as if they were glad to answer any and all questions and to share their knowledge and expertise.”

“It was, hands down, the best writing experience I’ve ever had. Too often educational encounters are competitive in nature. In this workshop I felt totally relaxed.”

Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
Red, White and Whole
By Rajani LaRocca

2022 John Newbery Honor
2022 Walter Dean Myers Award
2021 New England Book Award
2022 SCBWI Golden Kite Award
2022 Crystal Kite Award
2022 Massachusetts Book Award

Red, White, and Whole is a middle grade novel in verse about being caught between here and there, before and after, and finding a way to be whole.

The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron

The Magical Imperfect
By Chris Baron

A Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Book
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2021
A New York Public Library Best Book of 2021
A Junior Library Guild Selection

“Baron’s free-verse poetry is immediate and lyrical, allowing us access to Ari’s thoughts and feelings in a way that prose would not.” –Bookpage

Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen

Skyscraping
By Cordelia Jensen

YALSA’s Best Fiction Books for Young Adults
NCTE’s 2016 Notable Verse Novels
Top 10 LGBTQ Books for Young, by Booklist
Best of 2015: Teen Books by the Los Angeles Public Library

“Exquisite free verse poems…illuminating and deeply felt.”–Booklist, STARRED review

Meet the Faculty

Special Guests

DETAILS

May 21, 2023 - May 24, 2023

$1299

Highlights Foundation Campus

362 Boyds Mills Road
Milanville, PA 18443

The Highlights Foundation strives for a safe and inclusive environment. You will have access to our Community Standards prior to the workshop where we ask for your respectful engagement with fellow creatives, including our faculty and staff.

LOCATION

All in-person Highlights Foundation workshops and retreats (including this one) are held at our Retreat Center: The Barn at Boyds Mills.  This site was the home of the original founders of Highlights for Children Garry and Caroline Myers, and is located in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania on the traditional and contemporary lands of the Lenape Nation.

All-inclusive registration includes workshop tuition, lodging, meals, beverages, and snacks. Shuttle service is included from the local airport and bus stations, or you can park on site. You’ll receive more information about logistics after you register.

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The Highlights Foundation positively impacts children by amplifying the voices of storytellers who inform, educate, and inspire children to become their best selves.  Learn more about our impact.