High Road Fesitival Logo 2018.jpg

March 23, 2019

with Friday night and Sunday morning options

Embassy Suites

460 N Cherry Street

Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Online Registration is now closed. Walk-up registration at the event is welcomed! 

Jump to the Sunday Morning Seminar with Tom Lombardo

Poetry Master Classes and seminars

March 23, 2019

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Time: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Crafting Dreams into Poetry
In this master class we will discuss and demonstrate how crafting our dreams into poetry can help facilitate spiritual, intellectual, and emotional growth. In doing so we will take a close look at how some of our most revered poets and spiritual teachers have used both free verse and fixed forms for bringing the unconscious offerings of dreams into consciousness. Everyone will leave this workshop with the beginnings of a sonnet, villanelle, pantoum, and/or sestina inspired and informed by a dream.

Cathy Smith Bowers was North Carolina Poet Laureate (2010–2012). She was born and reared in Lancaster, South Carolina, and has lived North Carolina for number of years. Her poems have appeared widely in publications such as The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, Poetry, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares. Her fifth book, The Collected Poems of Cathy Smith Bowers (Press 53) won the 2014 SIBA Award for Poetry. In March 2017 she was inducted into the South Carolina Author’s Hall of Fame.



Time: 2-5 p.m.

The Rhythm  Method, Razzmatazz and Memory: How to Make Your Poetry Swing

What separates poetry from other writing disciplines is its music. This exploration will focus on line structure and the aspects of language that help create inventive rhythm and flow, admitting no impediment. With an emphasis on editing, the discussion will include examples of the power of the action verb, why imagination is more important than knowledge, and exercises designed to make the poems more dynamic and muscular on the page.

Keith Flynn is the award-winning author of seven books, including five collections of poetry and a collection of essays, entitled The Rhythm Method, Razzmatazz and Memory: How To Make Your Poetry Swing (Writer's Digest Books, 2007). His award-winning poetry and essays have appeared in many journals and anthologies around the world. He has been awarded the Sandburg Prize for poetry, a 2013 NC Literary Fellowship, the ASCAP Emerging Songwriter Prize, the Paumanok Poetry Award, and was twice named the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for North Carolina. Flynn is founder and managing editor of The Asheville Poetry Review, which began publishing in 1994.

Poetry Seminars

(alphabetical by instructor last name)

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Times: 10:30-11:45 a.m. and 3:30-4:45 p.m.

The Journey Within

Leo Tolstoy wrote, “All great literature is one of two stories; a person goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” What did he mean by this? What constitutes a journey and what do our own experiences of travel and transformation offer our writing? What do they offer our communities? In this session we’ll be looking at the structures of travel narratives, spiritual quests, moral crossroads, inner and outer journeys, and asking ourselves how to develop evocative writing out of our own personal adventures. All writing abilities welcome!

Kai Carlson-Wee is the author of Rail (BOA Editions, 2018). He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and his work has appeared in Ploughshares, Best New Poets, AGNI, New England Review, Gulf Coast, and The Missouri Review, which awarded him the 2013 Editor’s Prize. His photography has been featured in Narrative Magazine, and his poetry film, Riding the Highline, has screened at film festivals across the country. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he lives in San Francisco and is a lecturer at Stanford University.

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Times: 10:30-11:45 a.m. and 2-3:15 p.m.

What Makes a Chapbook Work? with M. Scott Douglass
Publisher, editor, and poet M. Scott Douglass will discuss how the chapbook has been defined and redefined over time, and how to make it a successful format for sharing one’s work in today’s market. We’ll discuss contests, self-publishing, organization, production, marketing and sales expectations.

M. Scott Douglass is the founder, publisher, and managing editor of Main Street Rag Publishing Company. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and a NC Arts & Science Council grant recipient. His cover designs have won two PICA Awards and several Indie Press nominations. His work has appeared most recently in The Asheville Poetry Review, The Midwest Review, Gargoyle, North American Review, San Pedro River Review, and Slipstream. His most recent book of poems, Just Passing Through, was released in 2017 from Paycock Press.


Times: 9-10:15 a.m. and 3:30-4:45 p.m.

What Makes a Sonnet a Sonnet? with Rebecca Foust

Fourteen lines do not a sonnet make. What are the necessary and sufficient qualities that a poem must exhibit in order to “earn” the title?  In the words of Molly Peacock: “Is there a 21st century sonnet? Is there an American Sonnet? Why has the sonnet persisted, ebullient and lively, after six centuries? How has it renewed itself? More importantly, how has it renewed poetry and poets?” This class will examine the contemporary sonnet in its myriad and exciting interactions with and departures from traditional forms.

Rebecca Foust’s books include Paradise Drive, a collection of modern sonnets, which won the 2015 Press 53 Award for Poetry and went on the earn five more awards. This collection was reviewed in more than 40 publications including the Times Literary Supplement. Rebecca’s recent recognitions include the Cavafy Prize, the James Hearst Poetry Prize, the Lascaux Prize for Flash Fiction, the American Literary Review Fiction Prize, the Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize, and fellowships from MacDowell, Sewanee, and The Frost Place. Foust is Poet Laureate of Marin County, California, and Poetry Editor for Women’s Voices for Change.

Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m.

The Opus: Using the Alchemical Process to Make 7 New Poems in 75 Minutes (no kidding) with Laura Hope-Gill

It’s ancient and strange enough to have been translated and practiced by Sir Isaac Newton and explored in poems by Lao Tse. Carl Jung says it is the very stuff of the Bible, and Keats, Shelley, Yeats, and Kinnell (and many more) reference it in their poems. Some sources even say this is what Mary Magdalene taught Jesus in Egypt. So, let’s join this wild bunch and do some alchemy. This quick descent into the “opus contra natura” will yield you seven new poems and a process for making poems (and healing the soul of the world) for the rest of your life. Bring your notebook and pen. Poetry brings the crucibles and fire.

Laura Hope-Gill, MFA, directs the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Asheville, where she also leads the Narrative Healthcare Program offering narrative and creative training for healthcare professionals seeking burn-out prevention and more meaningful clinical practice. She is an NCArts Fellow and named poet laureate of the Blue Ridge Parkway by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and National Parks Service in 2010. Her collection of poems, The Soul Tree (Grateful Steps), was one of the first Okra Picks of SIBA, and the North Carolina Society of Historians has awarded her the Willie Parker Peace History Book Award for both Look Up Asheville (Grateful Steps) architectural history books. Laura's teaching style is supportive, open, and grounded in the belief that the rough draft is a map we can learn to recognize and follow.

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Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Energy in the Vowels with Tom Lombardo

"The three ingredients of poetry: the mystery of the universe, spiritual curiosity, the energy of language." Of Mary Oliver’s three ingredients, mystery and curiosity may be developed by reading, studying, observing, thinking. But the energy of language—that’s purely craft. One hidden source of the energy of language is something that hardly anyone ever thinks about:  the sounds we use in our vowels. This seminar will focus on the energy in the vowels and how they might impact the reading (and writing) of our poems.

Tom Lombardo is Poetry Series Editor of Press 53 and publishes up to four collections each year from poets across the U.S. He is also the judge of the annual manuscript competition, the Press 53 Award for Poetry. Tom was the editor of the anthology AfterShocks: The Poetry of Recovery from Life-Shattering Events (Sante Lucia Books 2008, now with Press 53), and he’s the author of a collection of poems, What Bends Us Blue (WordTech 2013).

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Times: 9-10:15 a.m. and 2-3:15 p.m.

What Time Is Made Of

How do we write about time; how do we capture the work of time and the textures of time in our writing? How do we remember; what do we remember? If we do not keep a journal, how can we use other temporal markers (like those from popular culture) to recover lost time, lost memories, to write about the past? In this seminar, we will look at selected poems addressing memory and time, and we will examine a set of prompts that to write about our memories—or lack thereof.

Ed Madden is a Professor of English at the University of South Carolina and author of four books of poetry, most recently Ark, a memoir in poetry about helping with his father's hospice care. His chapbook, So they can sing, won the 2016 Robin Becker Prize. In 2015 he was named poet laureate for the City of Columbia, South Carolina.


Times: 10:30-11:45 a.m. and 3:30-4:45 p.m.

Behind the Mask with Valerie Nieman
Each day we go about our routine lives, but inside we are superheroes or explorers, pirates or rock stars, hiding our secret identities behind a mask of an unassuming face and daily clothes. One way to enter this secret world is to write a persona poem—persona meaning mask—in which we give a voice to an alternate identity. Join Valerie Nieman, author of Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse, for an exploration of hidden realms of the self.

Valerie Nieman's latest book is Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse, and her poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies. She has held creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council. Her fourth novel, To the Bones, will be published in spring 2019 by West Virginia University Press. A graduate of West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte, she teaches writing at North Carolina A&T State University and at other venues including John C. Campbell Folk School.

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Times: 9-10:15 a.m. and 2-3:15 p.m.

The Art of Concision: Maximizing the Economy of Words for Greater Impact

In this session we will consider the art of concision as an artistic imperative, discussing how to hone fragmentation, arrangement, and imagery in carefully selected language and tightened verse. We will study the work of established poets and navigate focused writing exercises, learning together how to say everything there is to say with the greatest possible impact—in the fewest possible words.

Stacy R. Nigliazzo is an emergency room nurse in Houston, Texas, and the author of two poetry collections, most recently Sky the Oar. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including the American Journal of Nursing, Bellevue Literary Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Ilanot Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. Her first collection of poems, Scissored Moon, won First Place in the 2014 American Journal of  Nursing Book of the Year Awards in Public Interest and Creative Works.

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Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Family Ties: Writing Down to the Marrow

Few of us receive the chance to write about our families in a personal, in-depth way.In this seminar, we will explore how to write poems about family, discussing several examples of family-related poems written by contemporary poets.Participants will delve into their pasts via a worksheet and share new work generated based on the worksheet prompt.

Grace C. Ocasio’s poetry manuscript, Family Reunion, received honorable mention for the Fall 2017 Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Award.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, she is also a recipient of the 2014 North Carolina Arts Council Regional Artist Project Grant. Her first full-length collection, The Speed of Our Lives, was published by BlazeVOX Books in 2014.  Currently, she’s an adjunct professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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Time: 12:30-1:45 p.m.

The Inward Side with Jim Peterson

In this seminar we will discuss finding, losing and yet maintaining focus in a poem, and will draw on examples from several poets. It’s essential to establish a central thread but it’s also essential to move away from it. If a poem is “too much on the nose,” then the strangeness and mystery goes out of it. The outward side of a poem is the action and imagery; the inward side is a movement away from the exterior toward insight or understanding. There will be a writing exercise or two for us to explore this concept.

Jim Peterson’s poetry collections include The Man Who Grew SilentAn Afternoon With KThe Owning StoneThe Bob and Weave, Original Face, and his newest from Press 53 in early 2019, Speech Minus Applause. His poems have won the Benjamin Saltman Award from Red Hen Press, an Academy of American Poets Award, and a Fellowship in Poetry from the Virginia Arts Commission. Until his retirement in 2013, he was Coordinator of Creative Writing at Randolph College and was the Pearl S. Buck Writer in Residence there in the Fall of 2017. He is now on the faculty of the University of Nebraska Low-Res MFA Program in Creative Writing. He lives in Lynchburg, Virginia, with his charismatic corgi, Mama Kilya.   

Sunday morning seminar

10 a.m. - 12 p.m.

10 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Join Press 53 Poetry Series Editor Tom Lombardo for a lively discussion of what is sure to be an interesting topic. At the 2017 Press 53 Gathering of Poets, Tom lead a discussion on the bee poems of Emily Dickinson, and in 2018, a discussion on the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Carol Ann Duffy, the first Scot, the first female, and the first openly gay person to hold the appointment. Whatever the topic Tom decides on, you are sure to have a great time learning and discussing. It’s a great way to wrap up your High Road Festival experience. Attendees will receive in advance by email some light reading to help enhance your experience.