Workshop Leaders


Jim Daniels is the author of seventeen poetry books, including, most recently, Rowing Inland and Street Calligraphy, 2017, and The Middle Ages, 2018. He is the author of six collections of fiction, four produced screenplays, and has edited six anthologies, including Challenges to the Dream: The Best of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards, a competition for high school and college students that he founded in 1999. His latest collection of short fiction, The Perp Walk, was published by Michigan State University Press in 2019, and his coedited anthology, R E S P E C T: The Poetry of Detroit Music is forthcoming later this year. His poems accompanying the photographs of Charlee Brodsky have been displayed in many art galleries and collected in two books. His poem "Factory Love" is displayed on the roof of a racecar. In 2020, he will be sending poetry to the moon as part of the Moon Arts Project. Honors and awards include the Tillie Olsen Prize, the Brittingham Prize, the Milton Kessler Poetry Prize, two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and many others. He is the Thomas S. Baker University Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.

Visit the OPA Blog to learn more about Jim from a special interview with OPA Treasurer Sayuri Ayers.

Workshop Description

"For a Living: Poetry About Work"

This is a generative workshop, designed to help you create new poems. The theme of this workshop is writing poems about work—work defined broadly. I have always been interested in writing about work—I come from a multiple generations of auto workers in Detroit, and worked in a Ford plant with one of my brothers and my father to help pay my way through college. My brother Mike still drives trucks for Chrysler.

Regardless of what we do to make a living—the term itself has a lot of resonance if you think about it—a living—it has a huge impact on our lives outside of work—where we live, can we afford a car, what kind, health insurance, spirit—energy we have to live the rest of our lives when we get out of the work. I argue for work to take its place alongside the typical themes of Love, Death, Nature, etc.

In this workshop, we will discuss the work poem samples and different kinds of work we have done, which will lead into a writing exercise and sharing of poems.

Other Workshop Leaders


Ruth Awad is a Lebanese-American poet whose debut poetry collection Set to Music a Wildfire (Southern Indiana Review Press, 2017) won the 2016 Michael Waters Poetry Prize and the 2018 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2016 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, and she won the 2013 and 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and the 2011 Copper Nickel Poetry Contest. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Poetry, Poem-a-Day, The New Republic, Pleiades, The Missouri Review, The Rumpus, CALYX, Diode, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. She has a MFA in poetry from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and she lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio.

Workshop Description

“On Persona: Exploring Other Voices Respectfully”
As poets, we have the ability to use empathy to imagine lives other than our own. Persona is one way we can delve deeper into an individual experience and elevate it beyond the personal. But how do we respectfully engage with and write from other points of view? This workshop will explore when to inhabit other voices and how to avoid common pitfalls in persona poetry.


Dionne Custer Edwards is a writer and educator working in art education programming at The Wexner Center for the Arts. She created Pages, an art and writing program where she curates arts-integrated learning experiences and co-edits a publication of writing and art by teens. She also developed WorldView: Global Intersections in Contemporary Art, and Expanded Classroom: Contemporary Art in Practice. Dionne's work centers developing cross-cultural arts-integrated programming and learning experiences. She is an artist with an interdisciplinary practice, and has published creative writing, poetry and nonfiction prose, in a variety of publications including 3Elements ReviewFlockGordon Square Review, Gravel, Grist, Storm CellarThe Seventh WaveTahoma Literary Review, and others. She has a BA in English, Ohio State University, and MA in Creative Writing and Arts Education, Antioch University.

Workshop Description

Revision is a critical part of the writing process. What are your revision strategies? How do you know when or what to change? Bring a work that feels stuck. Bring a string of lines that are disjointed and not sure where to go. Bring a weary poem that is curious about what else it can be. Join us as we make time to revise. For this workshop please bring a poem or not quite a poem to work on. In addition, each participant should bring one bit of advice about revision.


Terry Hermsen taught in the Writers in the Schools program for the Ohio Arts Council from 1979–2003, visiting schools, prisons, senior centers, as well as conducting poetry night hikes in such places a Mohican State Park, George Rogers Clark Park, and Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  He now teaches English, Creative Writing and Environmental Literature at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. He holds an MFA in Poetry from Goddard College and a PhD from Ohio State in Art Education. He has two chapbooks, 36 Spokes: The Bicycle Poems and Child Aloft in Ohio Theater, from Bottom Dog Press and two full-length books with Bottom Dog, A House for Last Year’s Summer (2017) and The River’s Daughter (2009), which was co-recipient of the Ohio Poet of the Year Award. He also has recently co-translated and published Chilean poet Christian Formoso’s book El cementerio más hermoso de Chile, for which he traveled to Tierra del Fuego to spend five days on the Strait of Magellan. 

Workshop Description

“Answering the Call: Odes to the Yellow Spring”
How do we write, when all life is threatened? And yet, how do we not? This workshop seeks to deepen our connection to earthly realities while we hike to and write to the heart of the Glen—the Yellow Spring itself.


Joe McKeon is an award winning internationally published haiku poet. He is a two-time winner of the Haiku Society of America’s Harold G. Henderson award for outstanding haiku. He won first prize in the 2017 Japanese Embassy haiku contest and the 2015 Vancouver Cherry blossom contest, His haiku have been published in international journals including Frogpond - The Journal of the Haiku Society of America, Modern Haiku (one of the oldest haiku journals in America), A Hundred Gourds (an Australian Haiku Journal) and Presence (a British haiku journal). His 2019 book Oars Up has received wide critical acclaim.

Workshop Description

“Can everything that schoolchildren are taught about haiku poetry be wrong?”
This workshop will focus on how to write haiku for personal enjoyment and potential publication. We will debunk the myths about haiku and discover what makes haiku resonate. We will explore advanced methods of presenting haiku including haiga (the combination of haiku with photographs) and haibun (the combination of haiku with prose or free verse).