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“Reading and writing poetry have long been occasions for self-exploration,” says instructor Brian Tierney. “Poems uncover and recover; they engage memory and personal history, bringing them back to life with new meanings and new understandings; they express intimate feelings and, sometimes, tell stories. In short, all poetry is informed by life and identity. Only you can write like you, and that is what poets must nurture.”

In this class, we will journal on topics and poems discussed in the first class meetings as a way to come to poetry as an observer, as well as an aspiring writer. Then we’ll explore how poetic craft informs our autobiographical impulses, looking at the essential roles that word choice, perspective, narrative, and sound play in the making of a poem. We will write several poems with an eye toward revising, and we’ll read poets such as Philip Levine, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Sylvia Plath who use their personal experiences as material for their work.

“By the end of the five weeks,” says Brian, “we will have broken through some of the challenges of making poetry from our personal lives. We will also more fully understand ourselves and our experiences through the reading and writing of poems.” All writers and voices are welcome.



    Brian Tierney is the author of Rise and Float, winner of the 20-2021 Jake Adam York Prize (Milkweed, 2022). His poetry and prose have appeared in such journals as Paris Review, Kenyon Review, AGNI, New England Review, The Adroit Journal, and others. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and a graduate of the Bennington College MFA Writing Seminars, he was named among Narrative Magazine’s 2013 “30 Below 30” emerging writers, and is winner of the 2018 George Bogin Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America. Raised in Philadelphia, he lives in Oakland, Ca., where he teaches poetry at The Writing Salon.

  1. Sunday, November 5, 2:00pm-4:30pm
  2. Sunday, November 12, 2:00pm-4:30pm
  3. Sunday, November 19, 2:00pm-4:30pm
  4. Sunday, December 3, 2:00pm-4:30pm
  5. Sunday, December 10, 2:00pm-4:30pm
  • Brian is well-organized, very prepared, skillful at crafting the discussions and class dynamic, offers bright and helpful insight in ways that can be heard. The format reminds me of writing workshops I took in college— in a good way. I appreciate the opportunity to read deeply and discuss carefully. I appreciate getting homework. I appreciate the process of workshopping and revision. In short, I love the class— I feel invigorated and enriched by it.

  • Brian is clearly thoughtful and creative in his organization of the classes, with a fine blend of the poetry of the greats, with our own work in class. He has created an extremely supportive environment for our work, but has invited serious critique of one another's poetry. I really like that, and am looking forward to more poetry at Writing Salon - and with Brian.
  • This is an enthusiastic endorsement for Brian - I'm a long time educator so I know what to look for. Brian is well planned, knowledgeable and reflective. He's sensitive to the class and to individual needs as well as leading us to a wider appreciation of poetry and helping us to feel our way to what 'good' poetry means. He is careful not to get in the way of our individual creative processes nor to be too prescriptive. I recommend him without reservation.
  • Even before receiving his academic-quality syllabus and opening day readings, I knew Brian was the real thing. He was prepared, organized, thoughtful. He displays vast poetic knowledge, in an engaging manner, such that everyone learns and hones skill, even tho each poet's playing field varies. Brian also has a commendable grasp of group-facilitation, moving disparate thinkers and writers, of all ages, abilities, attitudes, and anguish - to dwell in their work, go deeper, workshop the writing, re-work it.



Sunday, November 5, 2017 @ 10:00 pm PST
Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 12:30 am PST
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2121 Bonar St, Studio D, 2nd Fl
Berkeley, CA United States
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Cancellation Policy

10 days or more before the start date for a class, the registrant will receive a credit minus a 10% fee OR a refund minus a 20% fee.

3-9 days before the start date for a class, the registrant will receive a credit minus a 20% fee OR a refund minus a 30% fee.

2 days or less before the start date for a class, the registrant will not receive a credit or a refund.

The Writing Salon cannot offer refunds, credits, or makeup sessions for classes a student might miss.

In the event of an emergency, we may consider a refund or credit, whether partial or full. We review these requests on a case-by-case basis, and we ask that you notify us as near as possible to the start date for the class.

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