Willa conducted a WORKSHOP: Discussing & Writing Poems of Strong Emotional States

We read and discussed poems by masters who have written about strong emotional states, such as Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell, Hannah Bloch, Edward Hirsch, Yehuda Amichai and Ross Gay. Handouts were provided. We wrote first drafts, and shared what we had written or discussed our process.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023
7:00PM - 8:30 PM
Havurah Shalom
825 NW 18th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209


A workshop facilitated by Willa during her exhibition of Bookish at Astoria Visual Arts

Aug. 12 – Sept. 3

Poetry reading from The Naked Room, Sept.2, 2PM   

Feeling individuals wish to enhance empathy towards non-humans and human beings. I believe we can do so through reading and writing the persona poem—writing in a voice other than one’s own. By getting "inside" the life of another being, real or imagined, empathy and compassion come to the fore. We will transcend reliance on the traditional first person (the “I” closest to oneself), and the third person, two most common approaches to voice in narrative poetry-making. To experience the power of the persona poem in this workshop, (handouts will be available) we will read and discuss poems by poets who embrace this elastic form, including Langston Hughes, Patricia Smith, Jane Bailey, Ai, Don Colburn, and perhaps a poem by the facilitator. 

Please come prepared with ideas for your poems, whether humans, fauna or flora, of beings which you have a special interest in “knowing,” creatures you wish to embody. 

We will write first drafts, and then perhaps share what we have written, or discuss our process. There will be time to consider how walking in someone else’s shoes poetically intensifies compassion and empathy. 

DATE: Sat. Sept. 2, 2023
LOCATION: AVA 1000 Duane St, Astoria, OR
TIME: 3PM – 4:30PM 
FREE: includes a copy of The Naked Room

Click to register

Made possible with funds from the Ford Family Foundation

Past Workshops & Seminars

Willa will facilitate a workshop entitled Developing Empathy Through the Persona Poem sponsored by the NW Narrative Medicine Community of Practice, Tues. Feb. 21 2023, 6-7PM (PST)

For those who care about enhancing your empathy, one approach is through reading and writing the persona poem— writing in a voice other than one’s own. By getting “inside” the life of another human being real or imagined, issues of empathy and compassion for others come to the fore.

Once you register, you will receive handouts as prompts with masters of the persona poem including Langston Hughes, Patricia Smith, Ai, among others. Please come prepared with ideas for poems of individuals you wish to embody. There will be time to write first drafts. If you so choose, you can share what you have written or discuss your process.

To register for this Free workshop, please click on this link


In this hour-long workshop we will explore how writing in a voice other than one’s own paradoxically gives the poet the opportunity to explore what he or she feels most deeply. By getting "inside" the life of another human being, real or imagined, issues of empathy and compassion for others come to the fore. I do not believe one has to “have been there” to bear witness to individual or global injustice. We will transcend reliance on the traditional first person, (the “I” closest to oneself), and on the third person, (the subjective), the two most common approaches to voice in narrative poetry-making, to experience the power of the persona poem. 

We will talk about how one chooses an “I” to inhabit, and why research of an “I” might be necessary prior to the writing of a first draft, even if the persona is one the poet has observed. Possible sources for persona poems could be someone known or heard about, a biography, autobiography, memoir, news article, an individual interviewed on the radio, a written testimony, or oral history, which will actually give one access to speech patterns, and depending on the subject matter, may be an important factor in creating a persona poem’s authentic voice.  Additional sources maybe biblical or other theological texts, folk tales, novels, fairy tales and myths.

The master poets utilizing this approach, including Ai, Adrienne Rich, Peg Boyers, Robert Hayden and Garrett Hongo, will be discussed. We will jot down ideas for persona poems or will attempt first drafts. Time permitting, we will share our ideas or drafts.

Oregon Poetry Association's day long Conference on Zoom

Virtual OPA Conference!
All Day October 9, 2021

Conference Admission Members – $45.00
Conference Admission Nonmembers – $55.00

To learn about all PROGRAMS and to register click here

Willa will present Sat. Oct. 10th10- 11:10am

Introduction To Documentary Poetry

We will consider how it is actually not difficult to get “the news” from poetry, but that in many ways, poetry may be superior and more “truthful” then news gleaned from the newspaper, radio or social media. We will explore how poetry non-fiction gives us a fresh take on history and documents injustice. We will discuss works in this genre by Frances Payne Adler, Charles Reznikoff, Muriel Rukeyser, Doug Van Gundy, Alissa Quart and Reginald Dwayne Betts. Handouts of poems, and articles to inspire poem making will be emailed to you prior to the workshop. Please attempt a draft. Your first drafts and ideas for poems will be discussed.

Oregon Poetry Association's day long Conference on Zoom

Virtual OPA Conference!
All Day October 10, 2020
New Low Conference Fee $55

To learn about all PROGRAMS and to register click here

Delve Fall 2019 Literature Seminar: Literature of Modern and Contemporary Jewish American Women Writers

Guide: Willa Schneberg

In this seminar, we will discuss the “other” Jewish American writers—not Bellow, Roth, Pinsky or Chabon, but work by Jewish American women writers who have created a different canon. We will discuss work by Susan Sontag, Cynthia Ozick, Adrienne Rich, Marge Piercy and others arguably of their stature. We will explore the particular light Jewish women writers shine on the American Jewish experience and why their profound contributions to literature have often been overlooked. To learn more about this event click here.

I, Etcetera: Stories by Susan Sontag
Cannibal Gallery by Cynthia Ozick
Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity by Adrienne Rich
He, She and It by Marge Piercy
A Few Words in the Mother Tongue by Irena Klepfisz
The Moon is Almost Full by Chana Bloch
Divinity School by Alicia Jo Rabins
Paper is White by Hilary Zaid
Getting Home Alive by Rosario Morales and Aurora Levins Morales

ART and SPIRIT Workshop

Willa will present a workshop based on poems by Jewish poets that are in part inspired by biblical texts. There will be time to write first drafts of your poems inspired by such poets as Yehuda Amichai and Chana Bloch.

Sunday, March 10th, 2019, 2:00 - 4:00PM
Mittlleman Jewish Comunity Center
6651 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland
In partnership with ORA NW Jewish Artists
Cost: $18


In this interactive presentation we will discuss the craft of translating poetry, an art of revelation that re-envisions the original. We will debate how a translation preserves and heightens essence.

The poet Jane Hirshfield, Poets, has written that, “To translate a poem you love from another language is a way to keep your relationship to word-shaping awake.”

Oregon Poetry Association Conference 2018
Valley River Inn, Eugene
11:30 -12:30, Sunday, Sept. 30th
Session # 7B

We will glean how the letter is a cousin to the poem. Indeed, they both share the need to communicate to a reader in evocative language. But in the epistolary poem the writer might be a persona and the reader might be “real,” invented, historic, an animal or a place. Masters in this genre: the Medieval Chinese poet Cao Zhi, Elizabeth Bishop, Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes and Bernadette Mayer will guide us in our process.

Weds. April 19, 2017, 3 -4:30pm
Lan Su Chinese Garden 

Portland, Oregon


$30. All proceeds will go to the Volunteer Children's Development Association Siem Reap, Cambodia 

Opening Reception Program, in conjunction with the Cambodian Resiliency Exhibition, First Congregational UCC, Portland 

In this generative workshop, we will grapple with what constitutes poetry of resistance and resilience in the light of extreme social justice violations, including genocide. We will discuss the role of poetry in our current political climate, and investigate how to respond to economic inequity, environmental degradation, sexism, racism and heterosexism through the poem’s lyrics, and no resort to polemical language. Poetry from masters of this genre: Martin Espada, Brian Turner, Carolyn Forche, John Smelcer, Khmer poet U Sam Oeur, and Oregon poets Frances Payne Alder and Carter McKenzie will guide us in this process.

February 18, 2017
United Church of Christ
Portland, Oregon

November 13, 2016
San Luis Obispo Poetry Festival
San Luis Obispo, California

August 14, 2016
Willamette Writers Conference

Portland, Oregon

January 20 – Jan. 25, 2015
Voices Israel: A Group of Israeli Poets who Write in English

Jerusalem & Zefat, Israel

March 30, 2013
Portland Shambhala Center

Portland, Oregon

November 4, 2012
Oregon Jewish Museum & Center for Holocaust Education
Portland, Oregon

February 18, 2012
Milwaukie Poetry Series Workshop, Pond House
Milwaukie, Oregon

October 10, 2010
We fed our poetic appetites, and awakened our palates on the page. We wrote about the harvest, the marketplace, the sensuality of the epicurean experience, what we ingest, and what we imbibe.
Portland, Oregon