Kelli Russell Agodon


  • Biography


Kelli Russell Agodon is a bi/queer poet and editor from the Pacific Northwest. her newest book, Dialogues with Rising Tides (Copper Canyon Press), was named a Finalist in the Washington State Book Awards and shortlisted for the Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize in Poetry. She is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press, where she works as an editor and book cover designer. her other books include Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, Hourglass Museum, The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice (coauthored with Martha Silano), Fire on Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetryand Demystifying the Manuscript: How to Create of Book of Poems (coauthored with Susan Rich). She lives in a sleepy seaside town where she is an avid paddleboarder and hiker. She teaches at Pacific Lutheran University’s low-res MFA program, the Rainier Writing Workshop. Kelli  is the cohost of the poetry series “Poems You Need” with Melissa Studdard.

Mentor. Workshops and classes in poetry.

Statement: Carolyn Kizer wrote in the foreword of On Poetry & Craft by Theodore Roethke that when another student was critical of something eccentric she had tried in her poem, Roethke said to the student: You want to be very careful when you criticize something like that, because it may be the hallmark of an emerging style. Kizer wrote, He knew that our eccentricities are our true voice. As a poet myself, this is something I keep in mind while teaching—I must strive to help each poet grow by welcoming risk, experimentation, and by insisting they stretch themselves as writers. I’ll encourage you to understand the choices you are making for your poems and to learn how to be the best critical editor of your work.

There is no one way to be a poet, and every student comes to the Rainier Writing Workshop with their own specific objectives and interests. As a mentor, my goal is to listen, encourage, and challenge, so you become stronger as a writer and in revising your poems. By expanding your knowledge of authors, discovering which obstacles are preventing you from being the best writer you can be, exploring new areas in your work, and stretching your performance as a poet and critical thinker, we will work towards elevating your writing. And because writing is ultimately a solitary act, I hope to help you have a better understanding of both your strengths and challenges so you can find your path as a writer in the world.