The Writers’ Annex

Online, and year-round, The Writers’ Annex is composed of short courses, seminars, workshops, and more. Our vision is to bring the creative insight and experience of our staff poets and prose writers to our community in all seasons, not just in the summertime, and not just here in our Valley.  Our online offerings will address such topics as eco-poetics, translation, and generative sessions. Some will be one or two days, some will be weekend intensives, and some will meet weekly for a month or two. 

Our offerings are for writers, poets, readers and others who study the written word. We learned from our two years of offerings from the Virtual Valley that opportunities like this can be crucial for participants who aren’t in an academic setting, and who can’t make a week-long trip to the Sierra whether because of mobility, financial, employment, or familial constraints. We see The Writers’ Annex as a bridge for them.

A Short Course in “The Waste Land”

Online-Thursdays,September 1-29,2022

“The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot, published in 1922, is widely regarded as one of the most influential, powerful— and at times one of the most controversial—modernist poems of the twentieth century. The poem’s collaged, fragmentary style, its frequent shifts among speakers, its use of literary allusions and its storied “difficulty” gave new meaning to literary engagement when the poem reached its first readers. 

To celebrate the centenary of the iconic 434-line poem, Community of Writers staff poets Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman will guide readers through an examination and a meditative reading of the five parts of  “The Waste Land” on five consecutive Thursdays of September, focusing on one part per session, tracing the poem’s memorable imagery and references in an investigation of its themes and legendary lines. In this time of climate change, pandemic and global despair, special attention will be paid to the way the poem is still relevant as it addresses urban environmental anxiety and the human condition, perhaps with an eye to finding how its techniques and phrases might deliver an odd comfort and energy for our time.

This course will take place on Zoom or a similar platform.

Dates/Times:  Thursdays in September, 2022  4:00-6:00 PM (Pacific) on Zoom

More Details and To Register

Past Courses:

A Short Course: The Poetry & Poetics of Lucille Clifton

Online Thursdays, April 21-May 12, 2022 

Lucille Clifton’s legacy as a poet, writer, and educator is far reaching and fundamental to the poetics of the 20th century and today. Championed by such giants as Robert Hayden, Toni Morrison, and Carolyn Kizer early in her career, Clifton became one of the major American poets of the last part of the 20th century.

This short course in Clifton’s work will examine the major themes and qualities of her poetry. No background in poetry is necessary to learn and enjoy the majestic poetic work of Lucille Clifton.

Kazim Ali studied with her at the Community of Writers in the summer of 1998, and has published several critical essays on her work. He remained friends with her the rest of her life. She is one of two people on the planet who are allowed to call him “Kaz.”

 This short, online course is for anyone who has an interest in reading or writing poetry.  All are welcome.

More Details & To Register


A Short Course: Reading Milosz

The Writers’ Annex is please to present our first short course called “Reading Milosz” by Robert Hass. Czeslaw Milosz, Nobel Laureate, generally regarded as one of the great poets of the twentieth century, produced a large and various body of work.  Milosz’s  friend and neighbor, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Hass, worked with him for more than twenty-five years on the translation of his poems, many of which can be found in the anthology Czesław Miłosz, New and Collected Poems, a compilation that takes us across much of the intense life of the European twentieth century, in a poetry that uses ceaselessly inventive techniques and approaches to a range of subjects. The conversation promises to be rich and enlightening with Hass as our guide.