Reaching Outward: Poetry as Empathy



Human beings are connected both by wound and by healing, by experience and expectation. Poetry rises out of our own inner experience, but is it able to emerge from an experience beyond our own, connecting us to others? Can we write a poem tracing someone else’s footprints, placing our heart in or close to their heart, for a wider, shared healing? In this workshop, Sofia Starnes, Virginia’s Poet Laureate from 2012 to 2014 and decorated author of six poetry collections, will lead us as we try to answer these questions by looking at several poems by various authors, reading them in-depth and in open conversation. Having done so, the participants will be given a selection of “prompts” to initiate a poem of their own, which they will be invited (but not compelled) to share, eliciting comments by other participants, with input from the workshop leader. Participants are also encouraged to bring another poem or two, related to this theme, to read aloud as time permits.

Where & When

This workshop will take place on the campus of William & Mary in Room 1069 of Miller Hall (101 Ukrop Way, Williamsburg, VA 23185), located in the left wing of the main floor, on Saturday, December 8 from 10 AM - 2 PM.

Sofia Starnes

Sofia Starnes, Virginia’s Poet Laureate from 2012 to 2014, is the author of six poetry collections, most recently, The Consequence of Moonlight from Paraclete Press; she has also edited two poetry anthologies. Her first collection, The Soul’s Landscape, was selected by Billy Collins as co-winner of the Aldrich Poetry Prize. Her first full-length book, A Commerce of Moments, won Editor’s Choice in the Transcontinental Poetry Prize competition and was named Poetry Honor Book by the Library of Virginia in 2003. Another collection, Corpus Homini, was awarded the Whitebird Poetry Series Prize.

In addition, Starnes is the recipient of a Poetry Fellowship from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Rainer Maria Rilke Poetry Prize for “A Poem for Single Flesh”, the Christianity & Literature Poetry Prize for “Provinces”, and the Marlboro Editor’s Choice Poetry Prize for “The House that Bled”, as well as five Pushcart Prize nominations. Her poems have appeared in such journals as The Notre Dame Review, the William & Mary Review, The Laurel Review, The Southern Poetry Review, and been anthologized in the Virginia Writers Club Centennial Anthology, The Hawai’i Literary Review Best of Decade edition, and in Poems of Devotion, an Anthology of Recent Poets.

In 2013, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters degree by Union College, Kentucky. Currently, Sofia Starnes serves as Poetry Editor and Poetry Book Review Editor of The Anglican Theological Review; she is also a translator of art essays for Galería Cayón (Madrid, Spain) and the Ayala Foundation (Manila, Philippines). She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, with her husband, Bill.