Spring Conferences and Festivals


It's the season for writing conferences and poetry festivals. I'm teaching and speaking at quite a few, and I invite you to join me for any or all!

Newport, RI Writing & Yoga Retreat, sponsored by the Cambridge Writers' Workshop
April 2-5, 2015, Newport, RI
Join me in beautiful Newport, RI, for a luxurious long weekend of writing and relaxation. I'll be teaching Friday late afternoon and Saturday morning, focusing on Developing Your Manuscript for Publication. This will be a small, intensive workshop group, and there are still a few seats available; please feel free to inquire about rates if you only wish to attend part of the retreat. These workshops always go well. This one is organized by young writers and friends, and it promises to nourish body and soul.
Boston National Poetry Month Festival
April 9-12, 2015, Boston Public Library and Fisher College, Boston, MA
Join us for a long weekend of exciting and entirely free poetry readings and events in downtown Boston, organized annually by Harris Gardener, Lucy Holstedt, Kirk Etherton, and friends. The weekend starts with an evening of Poetry set to Music & Dance,  Thursday at 7:30 pm. On Friday, between noon and 4 pm, I'm one of the Keynote Readers for the Festival, and on Saturday and Sunday there are many other events, and I hope to be involved with them as well. For more information, see their website.
Welcome To This House, directed by Barbara Hammer
April 10, 7 pm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, as part of the LGBT Film Festival
Join me at the premiere of this feature documentary film on the homes and loves of poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), about life in the shadows, and the anxiety of art making without full self-disclosure. Under a Guggenheim, Barbara Hammer filmed in Bishop’s ‘best loved homes’ in the U.S., Canada, and Brazil believing that buildings and landscapes bear cultural memories. She interviewed a number of people associated with Elizabeth Bishop. To find out more about the filmmaker, you can visit her website here.
Muse and the Marketplace, sponsored by Grub Street
May 1-3, 2015, Boston Park Plaza Hotel, Boston, MA
Writing Your Memoir: What To Leave Out will focus on key decisions in memoir writing: what to leave out, what to put in, how much to reveal, and so on. There are very limited space: it's part of the Grub Street conference. Come with a summary of your memoir-in-progress and the problems it poses. This session is on Friday, May 1, 11:45 am to 12:45 pm.
Massachusetts Poetry Festival
April 30 to May 3, 2015, Salem, MA
Heartbreak in the Work of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath is the topic I'm presenting on at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, in the Morse Auditorium on Sunday, May 3, at 11:30 am. I'll be sharing some new material. We will have plenty of time for Q&A. I hope you'll be able to come to this. I think you'll be interested--and very surprised! It gave me a deeper perspective.
Massachusetts Poetry Festival
April 30 to May 3, 2015, Salem, MA

I want to recommend the Massachusetts Poetry Festival as a whole. Just take a look at the schedule. It represents the very best of poetry and the performance of poetry. You already know I'll be there, but I just wanted to mention that I'm part of a later panel on Sunday, at 1 pm in the Bartlett Gallery, From Sappho to Sapphire: Woman Poets on the sphere of Woman Poets, focusing on the development of women's poetry.
American Literature Association Annual Conference
May 21-24, 2015, The Westin Copley Place, Boston, MA
The American Literature Association reminds us of why we studied literature in the first place! It is devoted to the study of authors' work. I'm chairing a lively round-table discussion on What Happens When the Archives Are Open? with a special focus on the archives of Lowell and Bishop, as examples of surprising new information that can arise long after a writer's death. We have a star-studded cast. Steve Axelrod, Tom Travisano, Frank Bidart, Lorrie Goldensohn, Grzegorz Kosc, Alice Quinn, and Lloyd Schwartz are all participants. And we hope you will be too. This is a fascinating topic for us all. The conference has graciously given us a double session on Friday, May 22, from 2:10 to 5:00 pm, with a ten-minute intermission, in the Essex North Center, 3rd floor.

Boston Book Festival - Poets In the Asylum

Poets In the Asylum @ The Boston Book Festival
Saturday, October 25
1 pm, First Church Chapel, Berkeley & Marlborough St.

“McLean Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, has been declared a national literary landmark because of the many creative geniuses who have been treated in its wards. This panel will discuss three noted McLean Hospital associated poets—Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath—through a poet’s and clinician’s perspective. Panelists Kathleen Spivack, author of With Robert Lowell and His Circle; Bob Clawson, Anne Sexton’s confidante and manager of her band; Wendy Ranan, a psychotherapist and author of the poetry collection The Quiet Room; and Alex Beam, author of Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America’s Premier Mental Hospital, will discuss each of these poets, their experiences as patients at McLean, how their experience is reflected in their work, and how and what they managed to create with such a heavy burden of psychiatric illness. The discussion will be moderated by Doug Holder, who has facilitated poetry groups at McLean for more than three decades.”

Hope to see you there!

Developing Your Poetry Manuscript at the Cape Cod Writers Center Summer Conference, August 7-10 in Hyannis

Developing Your Poetry Manuscript 

with Kathleen Spivack
at the Cape Cod Writers Center Conference
August 7-10, 2014, in Hyannis


Personalized attention to developing your poetry manuscript. Intensive class and individual conferences devoted to you and your work. Small, personal, supportive and concentrated. Best for advanced writers, limited to twelve. Poets who work with Kathleen work hard, present and publish widely, win prizes. You will too!


This is a wonderful, intense summer conference in a beautiful location. My course is already filling, so don't wait to register!

For more information on the conference, go here.
To register, go here.

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival is this weekend!


I just want to make sure you all know about the Massachusetts Poetry Festival coming up this weekend in Salem. The Festival looks absolutely wonderful this year, and here’s the link: http://masspoetry2014.pathable.com/

It’s going to be a wonderful weekend! The workshop I’m teaching, “Conceal/Reveal: Writing About Relationships” on Friday, May 2, at 2:15 in the Essex Room of the Hawthorne Hotel, is already full with a waitlist, but I hope some of you got in. On Saturday at 12:15, in the Library Room of the Hawthorne Hotel, I’m part of a panel discussion, “Poets in the Asylum,” on Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and their time at McLean Hospital and how it influenced their work; other panelists are Doug Holder and Bob Clawson. I hope to see you there!

A wonderful local poetry festival


For those who are interested, I’m reading on Friday, April 11, at 3 pm in the Commonwealth Avenue Salon room at the Boston Public Library, with Richard Hoffman and Fred Marchant. The Boston National Poetry Month Festival includes four days of events at the Boston Public Library, April 10 through 13. I’m going to attend. Four days of poetry readings, along with open mic, a workshop, and an evening of poetry set to music and dance. For further information, go here.

Some Recent News & Events

I'm really happy that my novel, Unspeakable Things, is being published by Alfred A. Knopf in the forthcoming year! It's about European intellectual refugees in New York during the second World War. More on that later.

In other news, my essay, "The Tundra," won a gold medal in the Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing. It's available online here if you want to look at it. As far as other recent publications, an excerpt from Unspeakable Things, "The Rat," just came out in The Chattahoochee Review. And I've had poems out too: "Missile Silos" in America, "Neon Rest Stop" in The I-70 Review, and "The Story of Herself" in Constellations.

In terms of events, I'll be speaking this Friday at BOLLI at Brandeis University! Friday, March 21, 10:30 am, in their meeting space at 60 Turner Street in Waltham, MA. I'll be doing a presentation on Puritanism and Madness: An American Love Affair? Starting with reading from my recent book, With Robert Lowell and His Circle: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz and Others, I'll add my own insights on what I, as a young writer in Boston, personally observed in my long-term friendships with these poets. I’ll talk about the American literary milieu, the pressures on American writers including those I knew personally, and the connections between American Puritanism, “madness” i.e. mental illness, and the creative flowering that is so much a part of American literature. There’ll be lots of time for discussion.

We're also coming into poetry festival season! I want to call your attention to the Boston National Poetry Month Festival, a wonderful free festival that's running from April 10-13 at the Boston Public Library, Copley Square, and the Old South Church. I'm reading with Richard Hoffman and Fred Marchant on Friday the 11th, 3-4 pm, in the Commonwealth Avenue Salon Room at the library. And there's plenty else going on, of course.

On Friday, May 2, I'm giving a workshop, Conceal/Reveal: Writing About Relationships, at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. It'll be from 2:15 to 3:15 pm, in the Essex Room at the Hawthorne Hotel. It's open to all levels and ages, and I encourage you to bring works in progress or to write about whatever relationship themes that interest you. (They'll have their full website up in a few days, you'll need to sign up in advance there when they do.) People have loved my workshops in the past, and I look forward to seeing you there! Also I'll be reading with Doug Holder and other poets at 12:30 pm on Saturday, May 3.

Looking ahead, I'm going to be teaching at the Cape Cod Writers Center Conference, August 7-10 in Hyannis, MA. I'll be teaching a four-day master-class on Developing Your Poetry Manuscript, with intensive classes and individual conferences devoted purely to you and your work. All levels welcome, limited to twelve. It'll be a lovely working vacation conference, and I hope to see you there.

Reading in Paris is a delight

I'm finally back in Paris, and I've had some wonderful opportunities. Thanks to all my friends who were able to come to Shakespeare and Co. on October 10th when I presented from With Robert Lowell and His Circle: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz and Others. It was so wonderful to see you all again, and to be able finally to present a work that has taken years in the making at a bookstore that's special to me, with such a delightful audience. Thank you, thank you!

I'll be reading again soon, for those who can make it, as part of Adrian Leeds' Après Midi series, on Tuesday, November 12th. (More information at the link.) I'll be focusing on the American literary milieu, social pressures, and mental illness. There will be plenty of time for discussion, and books available. The Après Midi series is so wonderful, and I'm honored to be a part of it. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Love,
Kathleen