• The 2018 Student Application is now live. Click here to begin!

  • 2018 Dates: Session 1, June 24 - July 6; Session 2, July 8-27


A good poet—or any kind of writer, for that matter—is a truth-sayer. In fact, the world needs you to be a truth-sayer. I think that we could do with a lot less faking-it-for-appearances and a lot more raw honesty of what it means to be a human being. And by telling the truth, I’m not talking about simply recounting the facts, or stating what happened and when. I’m talking about the truth of how you really felt (regardless of how ugly or unflattering) or what you really thought when whatever happened happened. I do feel, though, that regardless of how disconnected some people may appear, they will hear you if you are real. Fortunately, most people have reserved a little space to know honesty when they see it. So be the person that ignites that light in them. Be sincere, be real, be honest; in your writing, open up your heart and others will hear you.

Here’s a prompt to get you started:

Look at an old photograph of yourself, and tell the real story of what you were feeling or thinking at the time the picture was taken. Consider the circumstances surrounding the photograph, or better yet, invent a narrative based off what you were feeling or thinking around the time the picture was taken. The facts don’t have to be accurate, and the poem (or story, song, etc.) can be as risqué or unflattering as you like; the most important thing here is to express whatever your true feelings were at the time the picture was taken.

Jodie Hollander, originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was raised in a family of classical musicians. She studied poetry in England and has published her work in England, Australia and the US. She is a Fulbright scholar, a Hawthornden Fellow, and is due to be resident poet at Chateau de la Napoule in France in October. Her debut publication, The Humane Society, was released with Tall-Lighthouse (London) in November 2012.