Kelli Russell Agodon
Kelli Russell Agodon’s newest book is Dialogues with Rising Tides from Copper Canyon Press. She is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press as well as the Co-Director of Poets on the Coast: A Weekend Retreat for Women. Her last book, Hourglass Museum, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards and shortlisted for the Julie Suk Poetry Prize. Her second book, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, was the winner of the Foreword Indies Book of the Year for poetry and also a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards. She’s received awards from the Poetry Society of America, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation, James Hearst Poetry Prize, Artist Trust, and the Puffin Foundation for editorial excellence. Agodon lives in a sleepy seaside town in Washington State on traditional lands of the Chimacum, Coast Salish, S’Klallam, and Suquamish people, where she is an avid hiker and paddleboarder.
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.