Working with Me

May 1, 2023

Several of you have asked about working with me privately, individually or in classes, so I’m going to schedule a Fridays at 4 zoom session this week for anyone who would like to explore the possibilities.  You can also read about the topic on the Work With Me section of the web page.  If you can’t make the session, you can email me with your suggestions and preferences.  Scroll all the way down for the zoom link.

Here are some of my thoughts for classes.  I’m thinking roughly of five- or six-week classes, and the cost will depend on how many people sign up.

Classes  I have many ideas, and am also open to hearing your own suggestions.  Some are solely reading classes, because I think reading widely and well is central to your own writing.  Some would include focused reading combined with your own writing.

1.  Single authors. The best way to get to know any poets is to read whole books, to read most or all of their work.  I’d consider anyone from Homer to Terrance Hayes to Alice Oswald.  Who would you like to look at in depth?

2.  Single books. I think of Louise Gluck’s Wild Iris and Faithful and Virtuous Night.  Or, on a bigger scale, Derek Walcott’s Omeros.  Or C. D. Wright’s book-length poem Deep Step Come Shining.  There could also be a class where each person chooses a book they’d like to discuss in depth.

3. Long poems like Ginsberg’s “Howl” (you can read an essay I wrote about it on my website), Wordsworth’s “The Prelude,” Wallace Stevens’ long poems. This is one topic where you could be working on your own poem while reading other examples.

4.  Craft classes: the free verse line, point of view in poems, persona poems, many other possibilities.

I hope these thoughts will spark suggestions of your own.

Manuscript consultations

Working on a manuscript means looking deeply into a group of poems to discover central patterns and bring them to the surface.  It’s similar to listening for what a single poem wants, but on a much bigger scale.  It requires looking deeply, patience, lots of back and forth discussion, and letting go of intentions.  It’s thrilling to see the shape gradually emerge from the fog, like a photograph coming clear in a darkroom.



And because no post here should be poemless, here are a few to think about.



Denise Levertov

Two girls discov
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me
(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even
what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,
the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,
and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that
a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other
in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,
assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.
Rick Barot
At a certain point I stopped and asked
what poems I could write, which were different
from the poems I wanted to write, with the wanting
being proof that I couldn’t write those poems, that they
were impossible. What I could do
was different from what I wanted. To see this
was the beginning of work that could be work,
not simply pursuit after pursuit that was
bound to fail, yearning for qualities that were not mine
and could not be mine. Aiming for a muscular
logic that could be followed by a reader’s mind
like an old stone wall running along a landscape, I got
nothing so solid or continuous. The authority
I wanted dissolved always into restlessness,
into a constant gathering of images whose aggregate
seemed like things that had come to settle
inside a glove compartment. I had no faith
in my flaws, but I had a grudging faith
in the particular. There was the actual stone wall,
its mongrel irregular blocks harmonized into use, rich
and ordinary as a soul. There was the flea
that landed on my forearm one night as I sat reading.
The black speck of it, then the outsize sting.
The flea that is an insect, has no wings, can jump
vertically seven inches and horizontally thirteen inches.
The flea that looks, through the magnifier,
like the villain spaceship from a science-fiction movie,
that can live for years in good conditions, and lives
by drinking the blood of animals and birds,
in a practice that is called, by science, hematophagy.
Langston Hughes

The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?

Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.



Wallace Stevens

Ariel was glad he had written his poems.
They were of a remembered time
Or of something seen that he liked.Other makings of the sun
Were waste and welter
And the ripe shrub writhed.His self and the sun were one
And his poems, although makings of his self,
Were no less makings of the sun.It was not important that they survive.
What mattered was that they should bear
Some lineament or character,Some affluence, if only half-perceived,
In the poverty of their words,
Of the planet of which they were part.

The Author to Her Book

Anne Bradstreet

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save homespun cloth i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ’mongst vulgars may’st thou roam.
In critic’s hands beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known;
If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.


Here’s the zoom link:

Sharon Bryan is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Sharon Bryan’s Zoom Meeting
Time: May 5, 2023 01:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 964 6841 5666
Passcode: 995491
One tap mobile
+12532050468,,96468415666#,,,,*995491# US
+12532158782,,96468415666#,,,,*995491# US (Tacoma)

Dial by your location
+1 253 205 0468 US
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 719 359 4580 US
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 444 9171 US
+1 360 209 5623 US
+1 386 347 5053 US
+1 507 473 4847 US
+1 564 217 2000 US
+1 646 931 3860 US
+1 689 278 1000 US
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 305 224 1968 US
+1 309 205 3325 US
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 964 6841 5666
Passcode: 995491
Find your local number:



Share the word

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Jackie Craven May 1, 2023 at 11:40 am

    Sharon, a ZOOM to discuss possible classes sounds lovely. May I join in? (Sorry to send this as a comment… I wasn’t able to respond to your post by email.)

    • Reply Sharon May 1, 2023 at 11:42 am

      Of course you can–link is at the bottom of the post. Did you try just replying to the email? Should have worked.

      I look forward to seeing you there. Sharon

      • Reply Jackie Craven May 1, 2023 at 11:54 am

        Thank you, Sharon. I didn’t want to just barge in, since I’ll be a newcomer. Your emails (which are terrific!) are set as “donotreply.”

        • Reply Sharon May 1, 2023 at 11:56 am

          Thanks for letting me know that. I had no idea it said do not reply and will find out how to fix it.

    Leave a Reply