Poetry of Attention
Poetry as Contemplative Practice.
Be more mindful, wake up, read, write, and live more fully.
ENROLLMENT WILL RE-OPEN FALL 2023
In an often-overwhelming world, come out of the constant noise into poetry, a form that invites greater attention and connection.
This class will take you deep into the craft and practice of poetry.
Write a strong body of original work as a poet—or prose writer.
Reconnect with spirit and presence and the world around you.
Go on a journey of discovery — and creative engagement.
Enrollment will re-open fall 2023.
Sign up to be notified when the course opens for enrollment again
Craft and Contemplative Practice
There is a common misconception that as writers, we either bring rigor and skill to our writing or we interact with the art form as a spiritual or healing journey. We approach an art form either from the head or from the heart. We care either about how “good” it is or how “expressive” it is.
But these are deeply limiting and misguided polarities.
In fact, throughout history, great art is made through the rigor of technical practice which itself allows for greater expressive, spiritual, and emotional discoveries, and communication.
Artists working in all mediums, whether dance, music, visual art, or poetry, know that we find our form of expression and our freedom through our mastery of form.
Similarly, people with serious spiritual practice understand that it is through the rigors, traditions, and discipline of practice that we go deeper into our own insights and connection with the sacred.
Technical, artistic, and spiritual practice go hand in hand. Similarly, art comes from the convergence of mind, body, emotion, and spirit.
The Poetry of Attention Course brings together the keen attention and insight of the intellectual mind together with meditation, personal inquiry, and spiritual growth.
Where to begin?! Some of the things I loved about Nadia’s poetry course:
Being able to take the class as a complete beginner.
The amazing people I met, starting with Nadia.
The intimacy, the safe environment.
The division of class time between the studied literature and our work.
The literature we read.
The assignments which I took very seriously, often getting up at 2am to work on them–
Looking at my work as a whole–finding commonality between the poems, having them speak to each other–
Coming back session after session.
Starting my book.
Taking Nadia’s class changed my life and I do not exaggerate when I say it was how I found my true life, my true self.
Author of Come a Blossom
Who is the class for?
BEGINNER POETS/ BEGINNER WRITERS
You don't need any training or experience in poetry to enjoy this course! Complete beginners who have never studied poetry before are warmly welcome. Looking at a poem closely and writing poetry can be a great introduction to studying literature of any genre. The class will help you explore how to think about your use of language in exciting ways. It will lead you to acquire new skills and techniques, engage more deeply with language, bring together mind and spirit, and connect more deeply with your creative voice. Don't worry about not having certain skills or levels of understanding. All you need is curiosity. The course will meet you right where you are and will take you on a journey of discovery.
As experiences writers, we can get stuck in our ways. This class will get you writing from a deeper, more integrated space. And you'll be learning from some of the very most exciting, ground-breaking poets of all time. Even if you're familiar with these poets work, you'll be approaching them in a new way with new attentions and insights. This class will reconnect you with your why as a poet, give you new techniques and skills, and help you integrate mind and body in the writing process so that you can write from a deeper knowing and creativity.
Approach poetry—and the world—with new-found appreciation, enthusiasm, flow, and pleasure.
Poetry can help writers in any genre attend to language and the world around us with more precision and insight. You don't even need to write poetry in this class to benefit from the teachings. The attention to language in a poem can be incredibly helpful to prose writers; in fact, you could use all the prompts to write prose. If you want to dive into your own life as a writer and tap into greater attention, this class is for you and will set you on a path of discovery--both on the page and off.
ANYONE LOOKING FOR GREATER CONNECTION
You don't even need to be a writer to be interested in this class. This class is for anyone, whether you consider yourself a writer or not, interested in focusing your attention, on coming into greater connection, and on taking a journey through language. This class will help you dive into the wisdom and insights of poetry. Anyone at a junction in life’s journey; trauma survivors; new parents; newly retired; and more will find resources and delights here
Whatever your experience level, this class will bring out the poet in you; it will help you get in touch with yourself, with language, and with the numinous.
It will give you a step-by-step process to become a more skillful, confident poet—or writer in any genre— who enjoys the process. It will give you accountability, community, and more.
And it will guide you to pay closer attention and engage more deeply not only with poetry but with every aspect of your life as you bring these forms of attention into the world with you.
This class will guide you to:
- Have greater appreciation and enjoyment reading and writing poems (or any genre).
- Write new poems with more awareness, skill, and pleasure.
- Pay more attention to the world around—and within you— and translate that to the page.
- Read texts (and the world) closely— as a writer.
- Come into greater presence and engagement in your writing and your life.
- Study in-depth some of the most inspiring poets.
- Bring together meditative practices, embodied practices, and writing.
- Get over blocks and have a satisfying creative practice.
- Create a strong body of work that you love—and enjoy the process.
- Fall (deeper) in love with poetry—and the world.
As much as the word is overused, Nadia Colburn is an unusually gifted presence and teacher, helping many transform their practice and their willingness to trust themselves enough to get to the heart of what they are trying to say.
Nadia is that rare teacher who creates an atmosphere of trust and honesty. An accomplished writer herself, Nadia brings a rare balance to her teaching: deep reflection and critical thinking about language, ideas, images, and meaning; and a compassionate, open heart that allows everyone to feel safe sharing and offering personal responses to one another. —Marilyn Levine; MIT Faculty member, Comparative Media Studies and Writing
MIT Faculty member, Comparative Media Studies and Writing
The Unique Structure of This Class
The Poetry of Attention Course is like three or four courses rolled into one:
- The best of a literature class, where you learn directly from closely reading some of the world's most exciting, ground-breaking poetry.
- The best of a poetry workshop, where you learn and practice new technical and formal skills for your own poetry writing and revisions. Learn to develop and trust your own voice without being in the constant cycle of responding to critique.
- Deep embodied and mindful practices so that you can integrate the reading and writing of poetry into other forms of mindful awareness, attention, and discovery.
- A life practice so that you can bring together the insights from poetry and the rest of your life for more integrated, engaged living.
Learn at Your Own Pace and Connect with Community
Unlike other poetry classes, The Poetry of Attention is an online class that brings together the best of a-synchronous learning so you can do it at your own time on your own schedule, with live (and recorded) community time and real, ongoing connection with the teacher.
The first module of the course will be release October 14th, 2022 and the course will unfold module by module over 9 weeks. And you get 12-month access to all the material.
I understand that everyone’s schedule is different. I’ve created this class to be primarily asynchronous, that means that you can go through the material on your own time, on your own schedule so there's no falling behind.
The course also comes with 9 live (and recorded) to go deeper, connect directly with Nadia and other community members, ask questions, and more.
You get 12-month access to:
Close readings, mindful practices, embodied practices, writing, revision, engagement practices, recordings of live sessions.
How it works:
When the course begins, on October 14th, you will get access to the course website, where all the material is housed online.
The course comes in video, audio, and text format so that you can engage with it in the ways that are most comfortable for you.
The live discussion/ coaching session for each module is offered at different times of the week for each module so that it will fit more people's schedules, whatever time zone you are in. If you can come on those synchronously, that will be wonderful, but if not, no worries. You can always watch the recording and email your questions in advance.
Each module will be released weekly, but after the last module is released you will have unlimited year-long access to all the modules so that you can go back and use the teachings, practices, and prompts whenever you want.
Come back again and again to deepen your practices, continue writing, and develop your authentic voice and vision.
"Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer" - Simone Weil
I believe the most important component for better, more enjoyable, more effective writing is powerful attention.
What do we pay attention to?
Listen to other poetry/ learn from careful, slow, attentive readings of master poems.
Our own work/ poetry
Careful reading and attention to our own language and drafts.
The world within us
Embodied practices and mindfulness practices help us pay deeper attention.
The world around us
Careful observation through our senses and perceptions, our relationships and interactions.
Unlike most other poetry classes, this class will guide you to make connections between the practice of poetry and the way you live and engage with the world around (and within) you.
These modules will guide you to expand your understanding of, skills, and repertoire as a poet. You will come away with a deep understanding of the forms of attention used in these six poets' work, and a greater ability to read, learn from, and appreciate any poetry. You will develop new techniques as a poet--for both your finished poems and the process of writing. You will finish the class with a strong body of your own poetry, greater confidence and enjoyment as a poet, and your own authentic voice and vision.
Mary Oliver and the Art of Detail
What you will learn: Careful attention to the natural world, sensory perception, language and imagery. How to bring the life of the senses alive in a poem and how and when to use details.
Rumi and Poetry as Translation
What you will learn: Movement and flow in a poem, inward attention. How to pay attention with the inner eye and translate it into a poem.
Walt Whitman and Poetic Vision
What you will learn: Putting it all in; going deeper, seeing farther; lineation and music. How to extend the line, keep seeing farther, and give yourself poetic freedom.
Emily Dickinson and the Art of Ambiguity and Multiplicity
What you will learn: What goes in a poem, what is left out of a poem, silence, rhythm, space, punctuation, inner-seeing, and vision. How to construct a poem tightly.
Lucille Clifton and Claiming Your Own Voice
What you will learn: How to claim, name, shape yourself and your experiences in language and off the page— and the relationship between the two. How to translate your own rhythms and experience into the shape of a poem.
Poet: Lucille Clifton
Ross Gay and the Courage of Attention
What you will learn: Bring in a wide range of lexicons, experiences, the ordinary, the sublime, tragedy, joy, contemporary life, and more into a poem. The audacity of gratitude and delight. How to bring both pain and pleasure, resistance and celebration into a poem, and make poetry a place of connection with others.
What Comes with the Course: 6 Elements
Each module is accompanied by six elements below—unlike other poetry classes, the Poetry of Attention is an immersive experience that guides you through meditative practices, embodied practices, readings, writings, and engagement exercises so that you can pay attention and engage as a poet not only when you're writing, but throughout your life.
Close Readings and Interactive Lessons
In each module, we will look very closely at one poem by a poet. The best teacher of poetry is poetry itself—in this course, we are going to be studying closely some of the most inspiring, moving poems of all time.
We’ll look at the poem line by line, considering imagery, formal considerations like lineation, punctuation, word choice, music, and rhythms of the language.
We’ll also put the poem in the context of the writer’s other work, life, and time. You’ll come away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the craft, form, context, and interpretations of a poem.
This process will also give you the tools to learn not only from these poems, but from any poem.
The close reading will guide you to read interactively—the lessons will pause and guide you to ask questions about poems. You will look and then look again, more closely each time.
You will be encouraged to be an active reader and to read as a writer: you’ll learn technique, structure, style, timing, and more from the poems. You’ll develop your own unique sensibility and voice from your interactive readings.
All poets are inspired, learn from, and borrow from other poets. But we don’t just model ourselves on other poets. We also form ourselves against and in opposition to them as we forge our own poetic voice.
- We’re going to read both reverently and not reverently;
- we’re going to talk back to the poems;
- we’re going to read greedily, as writers, learning and stealing/ borrowing;
- we’re going to experiment, play and be serious all at once;
- we’re going to weep, when appropriate;
- and, not least, we’re going to have fun!
The class will meet you wherever you are, whatever your background is as a reader, and whether you are in a period of your life when you are rejoicing or grieving, praising, or raging.
Writing Prompts and Lessons
Writing prompts are carefully selected to guide you through a step-by-step writing process and practice to expand your skills and range as a poet and create a strong body of work in your own unique voice.
Writing prompts stem from the close readings of the week and are paired with meditation and writing practices in the audio recordings but can also be accessed in text format.
The focus of this class is on your experience as a writer, on your writing process and on the poems that you create, and on the relationship between your writing life and your life off the page. The prompts will guide you to a rich, engaging, and enjoyable relationship with poetry and your own poetic voice.
While we will be learning from the poets we study, the primary goal is for each student to feel that she has the tools and resources to experiment with, enjoy and express their own unique poetic voice.
Each module comes with carefully selected mindful practice and writing prompts chosen specifically to go with the work of the author being studied that week.
Mindful practices include different forms of meditation and observation and come primarily in audio format so that you can simply hit play and be guided in the practice (where necessary, there may be a teaching video).
We will also explore the reading and writing of poetry itself as a mindful, contemplative practice. Our close attention to the process of translation between experience and language, and then back from langauge to experience will illuminate not only our writing lives, but our lives off the page as well.
Each module pairs an embodied practice with writing prompts chosen specifically to go with the work of the author being studied that week
Embodied practices include:
- gentle yoga for all body types,
- walking meditation,
- optional more rigorous movement to get the heartbeat and energy up before writing,
- and more.
Embodied practices come primarily in audio format so that you can simply hit play and be guided in the practice (where necessary, there may be a teaching video).
We will also consider poetry itself as an embodied practice and pay careful attention to the relationship between langauge and somatic experience.
Carefully suggested supplemental suggested readings will guide you to go deeper with each poet’s work.
It can be daunting to dive into a poet’s body of work. The course will select some of the poets’ best works in a range of styles and from different periods. Read these supplemental materials the first time through the course or read them later.
Guided Series for Greater Engagement
Each module will guide you not only to engage more deeply with poetry, but also to bring this deeper attention and engagement to other areas of your life—from the personal to the social and political. You will be given a set of guiding questions and practices to come into greater awareness and action and to find the ways that make sense for you— given your unique insights, perspective, experience, and voice— to engage more deeply.
PLUS Bonuses worth more than $1600:
6 Live Discussion/ Q and A Sessions— Recorded if you can’t make them live ($800 value)
For each module, there will be a 75-90 minute long (recorded) discussion period on Zoom where I will be available to answer any questions. This will also be a time to connect with other writers in the class and explore the material of the course more deeply in community. We will look closely together at a poem, be guided in a writing practice and writing prompt, and go into small groups to connect with other writers, share work, and more.
These sessions will be at different times each week so that they fit as many people’s schedules as possible. The calendar of live sessions will be posted at least a week before class begins. If you can’t make the sessions live, no worries! The sessions will all be recorded, and you can email any questions in advance.
Bonus Module: Close reading of work by Nadia Colburn and extra live session: discussion of my own process as a poet ($200 value)
I will provide share insights about my writing and revision process, how I put together a collection of poems, my publication process, and give an insider’s close reading of a few poems. Bonus Live session!
Signed Copy of The High Shelf by Nadia Colburn ($20 value)
A signed copy of my poetry book will be mailed for free to participants in the US. Students outside of the US will have the option to get the book for free if they pay for the postage.
Private Facebook Group ($350 value)
Private Facebook group only for members of the course. I am very active in this group. This is a place to connect with community, ask questions, share work, get accountability, and more. Participation is optional. If you are not on Facebook, you will not miss any of the core teachings, but this is a great way to go deeper with your experience of the course
Revision Manual To Go Deeper Into the Revision Process ($40 value)
This handy manual will give you tips of the trade and a process to go through drafts of poems and turn them into great, polished, final versions.
EXTRA BONUS: REVISION MODULE ($297 value)
An In-Depth Step-by-Step Approach to 5 Different Modes of Revision. Transform Your Writing through This Powerful Process. Plus Two Extra Live (and Recorded)Sessions.
Revision is a process that asks you to pay close attention to your own work, learn from it, and grow as a writer into your own authentic voice.
We will approach revision as another form of attention, as both craft and practice so that you come away writing your best works and with polished, finished poems.
This is one of the most transformative modules of the course, and I've added TWO live (and recorded) sessions to go with it, one in the middle and one at the end of the 9 weeks, so that you can get extra practice and support with your revisions. The course will give you all the tools to write work you love—and enjoy every part of the process.
30-DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
(after the course begins on October 14th)
Signing up for this course is a commitment to your voice and to the artist in you. I want to encourage you to honor that commitment. So I ask that you at least try the material. That said, I stand 100% behind the quality of the course. If you’re not satisfied, I offer a 100% money-back guarantee. I only ask that you show that you have engaged with the work.
"The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.” - Rainer Maria Rilke
I had been searching for several years for a teacher who could help me take my writing to a new level of expression while preserving the integrity of my own voice. When I met Nadia, I knew I had found my teacher. Nadia helps writers find the authentic in their own work and in the work of writers they read together. Her workshops are thoughtful, well organized – and inspiring. Working with Nadia, I have created a coherent and strong body of work. Nadia is a smart, skilled, insightful, and kind teacher. Who could ask for anything more?
Nonprofit Fundraising and Management Consultant
I am so blessed to have been able to take The Poetry of Attention course. I have benefited immensely: I learned not only some of the mechanics of poetry, but, even more importantly, the class offered me a place of “belonging” to be able to express my unique poetic expression without judgement or needing to subscribe to a particular style of poetry. I learned how to tap into my unique inner poet, while recognizing that the inner critic was always in the background, which is a result of my varied life experiences as an African American.
Before the course, I would hear and listen to the inner critic and allow doubt and questioning to influence how I wrote, but after taking your course, I have learned to allow the writer within to flow and to trust what she had to say as “valid and significant”. In the past, this “inner critic” tended to analyze every thought and word. Now, I am able to “allow” expression rather than “control” expression and, I must say, it is very freeing.
I especially appreciate your mentorship and guidance in helping me and others to better understand the diversity of expression. You validated and encouraged each of us to be uniquely creative, spontaneous and liberal in our imaginations and perceptions.
Although the live classes have ended, I like that I can move through the course at my own pace and readiness and always reap the benefits.
Although I am what I consider a late bloomer, your class made a BIG difference in my life; I feel more empowered and have been creating my own style of poetry. Your class helped me to recover my creative passion.
"I was surprisingly happy with the poems I wrote. The course was so life-giving...I couldn't wait until I have some time to write. Even though I was carving out that space to write, it allowed me to be more present with everything else"
—Caroline Triscik, therapist and mother of three.
"It definitely helped me be a more centered person, which is so important as an activist. The course was a great way to learn about myself and also poets I didn't know about before."
—Eileen Ryan environmental activist.
My Journey Through Poetry
Hello! I’m Nadia Colburn.
Poetry has been part of my own intellectual, professional, personal, and spiritual journey for the past 30 years.
I was trained as a reader of poetry at Harvard, where I fell in love with poetry in a Whitman seminar with the critic Helen Vendler, who trained me in the art of close reading. The more I looked, the more I saw, and the more Whitman articulated his vision, the more his poems still pointed to what could not be said. Poetry felt like a window into other forms of perception and truth.
I went on to get a PhD in literature at Columbia University, where I wrote my dissertation on poetic authority in the 20th century: where does the authority of a poem and/or poetic expression come from? While I was studying this question intellectually, I was also living it.
I had my first child in my third year of graduate school and suddenly felt a strong need to write my own poetry and to take poetry writing seriously. Pregnancy and motherhood, like poetry itself, seemed like a window into the sacred that is everywhere around us, and I wanted to explore that more deeply.
When Gabriel was one, we moved from New York City to Cambridge, MA so that I could study with the poet Jorie Graham at Harvard.
I immersed myself in the world of contemporary poetry, running a reading series where I got to invite and meet many of my favorite contemporary poets, including Linda Gregg, Claudia Rankine, Robert Pinsky, and many others. My poems began to get published in such places as The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Yale Review, and Kenyon Review.
Jorie encouraged us to bring our full selves to our poems, and I did that.
In part, it was my poetry that brought me to a process of self-inquiry and self-discovery and a conscious remembering of early childhood sexual abuse. I came to see that my poems had understood and pointed to my trauma even before my conscious mind had been able to name it. My poetry had a wisdom that my conscious narrative brain did not; it had helped lead me to my own remembering.
I needed to step away from being a professional poet to heal. For many years, I dove deeply into the world of healing, exploring many modes of therapy, immersing myself in Buddhist teachings, and getting trained as a yoga teacher. I understood that my healing needed to involve mind, body, and spirit.
But even as I was not publishing, I was writing poems, and in my poetry, I found a larger perspective, and greater wisdom and insight.
Over time, I began to publish my poetry again, and I founded the Align Your Story Writing School with the goal of bringing together the best of the head and the heart, mind, and body, as well as craft and practice.
I am the author of the poetry book The High Shelf, which explores trauma, healing, motherhood, the environmental crisis, the sacred, and the nature of language itself. I have also published individual poems in more than 60 publications and journals.
I’ve taught poetry as a visiting writer at Stonehill College, at MIT, Grub Street, The Muse, and the Marketplace, The Mass Poetry Festival, yoga studios, homeless shelters, and many other places.
Today, when I teach, I integrate the form of poetry with mindful and embodied practices. I am a serious student of Thich Nhat Hanh, a vipassana meditation practitioner, and certified yoga teacher. I have found in my own writing life and in teaching thousands of students over the past 15 years, that when we write from a more integrated space, first quieting the mind and engaging the body, we can get to the heart of our creative voice and vision more easily with more insight. I see poetry as a place of inquiry and celebration, traumatic silence, sacred silence, and authentic, fully realized voice.
It is my goal as a teacher to lead students to the tools and the rhythms of their writing life that work best for them. I do not believe that there is one size that fits all, but rather than in studying the work of master poets, and the things that they each do differently, we can come to discover what works best for us, at this particular moment, in our own evolving life and writing journey. In listening deeply to ourselves, in paying close attention to what is around and within us, our writing can be a deep and transformative journey and process of discovery, meaning, and also joy—as it has been for me.
My goal is for you to fall in love (or deeper in love) with poetry—and with your own poetic voice. And for you to bring that level of insight, appreciation, and engagement into other areas of your life, as well.
"I had an idea of what I wanted to say, but this course taught me how to say it. I feel like I have the tools and power to do real art-making now with my material. The course gave me the skills to be so much more confident as a poet."—Brooke Bailey
My work with Nadia in her poetry class was personally and also professionally transformative. I deepened my understanding of the psychological and spiritual benefit of attending to detail, and of recognizing significance in the ordinary. Nadia taught me to be still, to befriend silence, to tolerate uncertainty/ambiguity so as to penetrate “what happened”, in order to recognize what I was meant to learn from my situation and experience. There's a reason she has so many positive online writing class reviews. She encouraged and supported patience as a necessary skill when the intention is to dispel illusion and come to know what needs to be known in order to embrace growth and productive change.
CAMErON L. MARZELLI, PH.D.
Expressive Therapies, Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences, Lesley University Certified Reiki Master, Co-Founder: Still Woman, Director of Spiritual Education: Villa Serra Retreat Center
"Thank you Nadia for your generosity and kindness. I really enjoyed, even loved, the poet's you selected for us to study. I've never experience a deep reading like we did together and found it exceptionally helpful, opening up understanding of poetry and the particular poem we were reading in ways I would never do on my own. I found the breakout sessions surprisingly enjoyable and positive as well. I truly appreciate all the time and materials you provided as well as your valuable insights and spirit. I've learned to appreciate more my own unique expression at the same time deepening my appreciation of other people's voices and styles."
The writing and revisions I’ve done since taking this course have seemed so much truer to my own voice, from which I had felt fairly removed for a while. Nadia’s teachings helped me find a renewed joy in writing. I feel overall freer, and my work is much more powerful as a result.
Poet and Teacher author of Rough Knowledge
I thoroughly enjoyed reading and writing from all the poets we studied. I was hesitant about signing up for an online class, but I'm so glad I did. I have a collection of poems that I wrote in this class that I feel good about, and I look forward to continuing to write and study with you. Thank you, Nadia.
Oh my gosh, I liked it all. I liked the close attention to a specific poem, I liked being exposed to different poets and poems, I liked how the course invited us to think about our own lives and environment, and how we could practice our lesson during the week through the engagement section. I also enjoyed the live sessions and how rich the sharing of ideas was during these sessions. And of course, the meditation and writing practice was very enjoyable and fruitful.
The course strengthened my writing process, expanded my knowledge of poetry, and opened up endless possibilities for expressing the full spectrum of emotions. Because of this class, I now feel able in a new way to write about mindful, difficult, and also joyful moments in my life. I'm very happy with the poems I've written in this class. Thank you!
"Nadia empowered me in this course. The course gave me the tools to think of my poetry as something "real," and I've had some great successes with my poetry since the course.
—Robin Clifford Wood, author of the nonfiction book, The Field House
"My word choice is more precise and my poems are richer. I'm much more prolific, and something opened in me. Writing has become a daily joy; as a caregiver you need to give to yourself, and for me, after this course, writing poetry is giving to myself."
"Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity… It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action….The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems" - Audre Lorde
Frequently Asked Questions:
How is The Poetry of Attention different from other poetry classes?
Unlike other poetry classes, The Poetry of Attention is like three or four courses rolled into one. I bring together my background as a Professor of Literature, an award winning writer, a meditation and yoga teacher, and also an activist. The Poetry of Attention is a robust literature class where you study the work of inspiring writers; a robust creative writing class where you are given specific tools, techniques, practices, and prompts to write and revise your own poems; a mindfulness course, with guided meditations and embodied practices to get you more integrated in yourself; a life course with engagement practices to help you live in more alive, active ways. But all together the course is greater than the sum of its parts because when we put this all together, it's a transformative experience that gets you writing—and living— from the inside out with greater skill, clarity, depth, and vision.
Although I was skeptical about teaching online at first, I have found that I'm able to offer at least 10 times the amount of material and teaching that I can in in-person classes. As a result, students have more long-lasting experiences.
Does this class help me improve my writing? What kind of feedback do I get?
This class will guide you to have your own, deep, transformative relationship with poetry and with your creative vision by giving you the skills you need—both the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts and also the processes and confidence—to write better.
Most poetry classes focus on critique without really giving you the tools to go deeper into your creative process or the revision process. This leaves students in a constant cycle of writing for others and waiting for critique and feedback.
In my more than 20 years of teaching, I have found that writers often feel dependent on other readers instead of learning to develop skills themselves. In The Poetry of Attention, by contrast, you get the tools you need, break that dependency on other readers, and come into greater trust with your own creative work.
I've been very excited to see students have breakthroughs in this class: this method allows you to engage in larger, more interesting, more unique projects in more sustained ways, enjoy the process more, revise better, and write your best finished work.
At the same time, though students are not writing for critique, there is a strong community component to this class and lots of support and accountability. You can post work in the private Facebook group where you can connect with a community of like-minded and encouraging writers and where I am present to support you. There will be time on each of the live sessions to ask questions, get spot coaching from me, and share work in small groups in breakout rooms and get feedback and connect with other writers there.
I'm here to guide your way, support you, and answer any questions. I'm very present in the course; you won't feel alone.
Plus: because the material is housed online, and because you have 12-month access, you can come back again and again and continue to learn, practice, write, and deepen your experiences.
I’m a prose writer, not a poet. Will this course help me?
Absolutely. The close attention that poetry teaches is invaluable for writers of all genres. You will learn to pay greater attention both to the language you use and to the world around and within you. You can choose to write either poetry or prose in response to the prompts. Prose writers are often amazed at not only the new skills they get as writers when they engage in poetry, but the way the form opens up new parts of their story, their creative imagination, and their freedom as a writer. The course will lead you to a new relationship with your writing process and a new way to approach the role of writing in your life.
I have no experience as a poet and am a complete beginner. Will this class meet me where I am?
Absolutely. I'm so excited to welcome you to this course! This course will meet you exactly where you are. You don’t need to know anything more than you know right now. It will give you all the tools you need to dive in, enjoy poetry, and start writing your own work in your own voice. Don't worry about knowing "enough" or having a fancy education or background. We are all language users every single day in our lives. Many people worry that they will not be prepared for this class, but that never happens. This course is a great introduction for complete beginners. If you have a desire to be here, you belong. If you are curious, you belong. We are all experts of our own lives, our own perceptions—and no one other than you knows what you know. Each of us has a song in our hearts that wants to come out and this course will help make that happen.
I’m a professional/ experienced poet/ working on a book of poems. Is this course for me?
Yes, yes! As experienced and professional poets, we can always go deeper, gain new skills, practices, and insights. And sometimes, especially as experienced poets, we need a reboot, new energy, and a deeper connection with ourselves and our art form. Because we study and learn from some of the world's most inspiring and talented writers, there is always something new to learn. Many of my students have been writing for years, but find new ways to bring more aliveness to their work. This class will meet you where you are and ask you to go to the next level. You can use this class to revitalize or finish a book project, work on a new project, or just fall back in love with poetry.
How will this class help people who are healing, in a major life transition, or trauma survivors?
Poetry helps us get out of the left brain into greater insights and wisdom. Poetry can gently guide us into the places of silence with reverence, give that silence language, and lead us into greater healing, connection, and peace. It can also help us cultivate our attention to renewal and joy.
If I can’t make the sessions live, will I still get the full experience?
Don’t worry. Each session will be recorded so that you can watch on your own schedule, and you can email questions in advance. Some students come to all the live sessions; some can't make any of them live or prefer to watch them as recordings. Whatever you do, you'll have a very rich experience.
What if I don’t have time to engage fully with the material?
Once you enroll, you have 12-month access to all the material that is housed online. Unlike regular poetry classes, there is no need to do it all this fall. Come back to the teachings, practices, prompts, and readings whenever you want! Sign up now while the course is open for enrollment and come through on your own schedule.
I’m not really a writer, I wonder about investing in a course like this.
Investing in this course is investing in yourself. You will gain a new pleasure and appreciation for not only poetry but also new forms of attention and engagement in every area of your life. The quality of our attention affects every aspect of our well being. Having greater awareness and attention is itself priceless. And giving voice to your creative self is also priceless.
How did you choose the writers we study?
I chose the six writers we study in depth because they are some of my favorites and some of the most inspiring writers of all time. As we look at their work week by week, they will teach us some of the best tools and tips for writing great, engaging work. Each of the poets we study teaches us something slightly different while also re-enforcing how poets use the same toolset to different effect: Mary Oliver teaches the art of presence and detail. Rumi reminds us that all poetry is an act of translation, no matter what language it is written in. Whitman and Dickinson each re-invents American poetry and invites us to expand our vision in very different ways. Lucille Clifton teaches us to claim our own, authentic speaking voice. And Ross Gay, a contemporary writer, invites us to bring the full range of experience into our work and asks us to think—and feel—the complexity of attention itself in our complex social world.
I love these poets. If you are new to their work, you don't need any background knowledge to enjoy the course. If you know their work well, I think you will learn new things from the course. I know I learn something new each time I study these poets' work.
Is there a Money-Back Guarantee?
Yes! I believe in this course 100%. If you sign up for the course and are unhappy with it, I offer a 100% money back guarantee within the first 30 days of the course’s start date. I only ask that you try the material; signing up is a sign that you want to support your writing life and I to encourage you to do that. Since the course comes with lifetime access not having the time to work with the material is not a reason for me to offer a refund. If you try the material, I feel confident that you will enjoy it, but if you don't, just let me know, show me you’ve done some of the work, and I’ll return your money with no hard feelings.
I signed up for Nadia Colburn’s poetry seminar with great trepidation. I was afraid that the act of facing a blank white page would be scary; it had been so very long since I had put my longings, my failures and my observations on the page for other readers. But, I had this yearning to come out of hiding. A yearning to be known in the way that one is known in poems.
So, I did sign up for Nadia’s poetry class. I found Nadia’s reserve and deep knowledge about the history of verse and poets to be calming. Nadia shared with us poems that used metaphor to both reveal and to hide those deep (scary) emotions. Her close attention and respect for us as human beings and for the writing process allowed me to both reveal and to keep hidden those terrifying feelings.
Nadia created an atmosphere of respect in her class, and I loved both reading and commenting on the poems our classmates had written. This is SACRED work when it is done in the right space; Nadia created that space.
I credit Nadia for giving me the courage to write about and through my pain and fear. It was through this work that I came to a new career—making documentary movies.
Good writing teachers encourage true expression; that expression acknowledges pain and also leads to real self empowerment. Nadia Colburn is truly one of those very great teachers.
Pamela Tanner Boll
Director of “Who Does She Think She Is” and “A Small Good Thing”
In my own life, poetry has been a path, a window, a doorway into greater insight, connection and presence. I hope it can be the same for you.
30-DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
(after the course begins on October 14th)
Signing up for this course is a commitment to your voice and to the artist in you. I want to encourage you to honor that commitment. So I ask that you at least try the material. That said, I stand 100% behind the quality of the course. If you’re not satisfied, I offer a 100% money-back guarantee. I only ask that you show that you have engaged with the work.