Blue Stoop
A Home for Philly Writers


Craft Classes & Writing Workshops

We offer three eight-week writing workshops in the fall (September-November) and another three eight-week writing workshops in the spring (January-March) with 6-12 students as well as shorter weekend intensives in April and June with 6-10 students. Generally, introductory fiction and poetry workshops are offered in the fall, advanced fiction and poetry workshops in the spring, with a rotating nonfiction workshop (theme and genre varies) offered in both terms.

Tuition for our full-length classes is $400, a fee we set intentionally so we can adequately compensate our instructors; we pay our instructors between $2000-3000 per course, depending on enrollment. Tuition for weekend intensives is $250 and instructors receive $600-1300 depending on enrollment. Financial aid is available for both our eight-week and intensive classes, including full scholarships. Click here for more details on financial aid.

If you have college teaching experience and some record of publication and would like to propose a class, contact us. For a list of our past classes, click here.

Poetry Book Manuscript Intensive
to Jul 21

Poetry Book Manuscript Intensive

This weekend poetry intensive is for poets who want guidance in taking the rough draft of their chapbook or full length manuscript to its final form. It will investigate the questions: Should your collection be sectioned; and if so, what is the logic behind that sectioning? What is the emotional arc of your collection or chapbook? How is your title functioning? Where are the gaps in this manuscript, both physically and in terms of content? How is the collection functioning on a formal level? By asking you to define your manuscript’s goals and shortcomings, the format of this workshop will cater to your collection’s particular needs. Feedback from widely published poet and instructor Raena Shirali will also include a list of 3 potential places to submit your work once it has been through the revision process.

Students must have a chapbook OR full length manuscript that they consider to be a rough draft, with the poems therein considered “almost done” or “final drafts.” Chapbook limitation: between 30-45 pages. Full length limitation: between 48-72 pages.

Cost: $250 (financial aid available)
Schedule: July 21 10-4pm (w/lunch break) & July 22 10-4 pm (w/lunch break)
6-10 students (need 6 students to run)
Registration: Rolling, by application, closes July 5, 2019
To apply: email the below to If applying for financial aid, please also fill out this form.

—A statement about your project (identify their goals for this manuscript in terms of content).
—Three things you want to get out of this workshop for their particular manuscript.
—One or two things that would NOT be helpful for your particular workshop.

Raena Shirali is the author of GILT (YesYes Books, 2017), which won the 2018 Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. Winner of a Pushcart Prize & a former Philip Roth Resident at Bucknell University, she is also the recipient of prizes and honors from VIDA, Gulf Coast, Boston Review, & Cosmonauts Avenue. Shirali received her MFA from The Ohio State University, and has taught creative writing extensively, most recently serving as Poetry Faculty for Kettle Pond Writer’s Conference, where she led a week-long manuscript intensive at Pauls Smith College. She has performed and hosted craft talks at NPR Illinois, the 92Y Unterberg Center, Indiana University, Wright State University, Mississippi State University, University of Wisconsin, Slippery Rock University, Asian Arts Initiative, & elsewhere. Find out more at

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School of Guerilla Poetics Intensive
to Sep 15

School of Guerilla Poetics Intensive

  • Cherry Street Pier, Studio 5 & 12 (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

School of Guerilla Poetics
w/ Yolanda Wisher

Muriel Rukeyser said that “In school we learn how precious poetry is, how important it is to civilization, but we are not taught how to use it.” This weekend intensive will explore some of the precious and practical uses of poetry beyond the Norton Anthology and MFA. If you are interested in cultivating a public poetry practice in settings like schools and parks, train stations, Laundromats, prisons, and shelters; if you want to work with integrity as a poet with marginalized and vulnerable communities; if you want to respectfully reach and revolutionize communities with poetry through event organizing and digital platforms, this course is for you. Philly iconography—row houses, stoops, and sneakers on telephone lines will frame our study of the poetry reading, the workshop, and the festival as three modes of civic engagement and community organizing. Guest speakers and a course pack of poems and essays rooted in a lineage of “poetry for the people” movements in Philly and beyond will root our conversations. Each class will feature a curated panel discussion with poets who have been active in community spaces and programs in Philadelphia.

Cost: $250 (financial aid available)
Schedule: September 14, 10-4 pm (w/lunch break), September 15 10-4pm (w/lunch break)
6-10 students (need 6 students to run)
Registration: Rolling, by application, closes August 26, 2019
To apply: email a little bit about you to If applying for financial aid, please also fill out this form.

Questions this course will explore:

—How are poets working outside of traditional academic spaces to promote poetry, catalyze it, and widen its audience? What other paths are available to poets besides college/university study and teaching and publication? How are poets both private/public cultural producers and what is their responsibility to the communities they are part of? How can we shape learning experiences and events around poetry that break with elitist assumptions and are inclusive to folks of various educational and cultural backgrounds? As a poet who wants to do more than write, how do you engage others in poetry in a way that centers open interpretation, personal voice, and welcomes lenses of race, gender, sexuality, culture, politics, colonialism, trauma, etc.? What makes poetry readings, workshops, and festivals effective vehicles for community organizing and what are the possibilities and/or limitations of their impact? What does “poetry for the people” look like in 2019 and beyond? What can we learn from radical grassroots movements involving poetry in the past? How can we better acknowledge, resource, and sustain the invisible public labor and contributions of poets?

Experimental and generative, this course will function as kitchen table, lab, and stage, with an emphasis on reflection and collaboration. We will start and end the session with writing in response to creative prompts. Participants will play a role in documenting Philadelphia’s tradition of community poetics for future audiences through their own written reflections on the reading and panels. They will also work in pairs to conduct interviews with one or more of our guest speakers. Our work together will be messy, moving, poignant, tender, powerful, and unfinished. This is a school for the unschooled or the refused to be schooled. All walks of life and levels welcome.

YOLANDA WISHER is the author of Monk Eats an Afro (Hanging Loose Press, 2014) and the co-editor of Peace is a Haiku Song (Philadelphia Mural Arts, 2013). Wisher was named the inaugural Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in 1999 and the third Poet Laureate of Philadelphia in 2016. A Pew and Cave Canem Fellow, she has been a Writer in Residence at Hedgebrook and Aspen Words. Wisher taught high school English for a decade, served as Director of Art Education for Philadelphia Mural Arts, and was the 2017-2018 CPCW Fellow in Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Wisher founded and directed the Germantown Poetry and Outbound Poetry Festivals and currently works as the Curator of Spoken Word at Philadelphia Contemporary. She regularly performs a unique blend of poetry and song with her band The Afroeaters and is part of the first cohort of artists with studios at the Cherry Street Pier on the Delaware River Waterfront.

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Novel Writing Intensive
to Jun 23

Novel Writing Intensive

Devote the weekend to your novel during this two-day intensive with Annie Liontas, author of Let Me Explain You, named Editor’s Choice by The New York Times Book Review.  Whether you are beginning your first novel or are looking to reboot a beloved project, our craft talks and workshop discussions will deepen your knowledge of your book and offer a path forward.  

We’ll begin by asking what promises a novel makes and what questions drive it. On day one, we will look briefly to the work of master writers for guidance as we think about our own choices and challenges.  We will then move into critiques of your opening pages, relying on inquiry and a Socratic approach, asking questions that help the writer see their work more sharply. On day two, we continue workshops and talk novel architecture, pacing, and look to tools and strategies that writers can take home. Our intensive concludes with brief one-on-one conferences, encouraging you to tackle a frustration, make a plan, light a fire.

Participants need to have written as little as a single chapter but might have built as much as an entire novel.  To encourage dialogue and develop common language, some light reading will be assigned in advance of the intensive.  Optional additional reading includes Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends. Writing a novel is a great deal of digging in the shadows, but when you’re among compatriots, somebody holds up a lantern every now and then.  Come join us this June!   

Cost: $250 (financial aid available)
Schedule: June 22, 10-4 pm (w/lunch break), June 23 10-4pm (w/lunch break)
6-10 students (need 6 students to run)
Registration: Rolling, by application, closes June 3, 2019
To apply: email 5-15 pages of your project & a little bit about you to If applying for financial aid, please also fill out this form.

Annie Liontas' novel Let Me Explain You (Scribner) was featured in The New York Times Book Review as an Editor's Choice and was selected by the ABA as an Indies Introduce Debut and Indies Next title.  She is the co-editor of the anthology A Manner of Being: Writers on their Mentors.  Her work has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, BOMB, Guernica, Ninth Letter and Lit.  She teaches creative writing at George Washington University.  Follow her @aliontas.

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Young Adult Novel Intensive
to Apr 7

Young Adult Novel Intensive

Spend the weekend working with Philadelphia-area New York Times bestselling author Nova Ren Suma, author of the YA novels The Walls Around Us, A Room Away from the Wolves, and more. This intensive two-day workshop will feature craft discussion on writing for a young adult audience and an opportunity for you to come away with feedback on pages from your own YA novel as well generative exercises that will deepen and expand your work-in-progress.

 The workshop will begin on Saturday with an interactive craft discussion on YA voice and the genre-bending possibilities in the YA field. We will then hold brief critiques of the opening pages of your YA novel, led by Nova with an eye toward constructive feedback and asking questions that will help you revise and write forward. On Sunday we will continue the workshop discussions, and close the weekend with generative writing exercises tailored to help you find the heart of your YA novel, finetune your character’s voice, and follow your story through to the end. All you need in order to sign up is a YA work-in-progress—as little as the opening chapter of a YA novel and some ideas for where you may take the story, or as much as a draft of the whole book and an open mind. Writers working on upper middle-grade fiction and cross-over adult novels are also welcome in the group, though our main focus will be YA. Each student will also get a written feedback letter from Nova on their novel openings (about 20 pages).

Cost: $250 (financial aid available)
Schedule: April 6, 10-4 pm (w/lunch break), April 7 10-4pm (w/lunch break)
6-10 students (need 6 students to run)
Registration: We are no longer accepting applications for this course.

Nova Ren Suma is the author of the YA novels A Room Away from the Wolves, which is nominated for a 2019 Edgar Award and was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR and School Library Journal, the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us, and other novels. She is co-editor-in-chief of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology (, a new online YA short story publication. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has been awarded fiction fellowships from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. She has taught creative writing at Columbia University, Arizona State University’s Your Novel Year program, and elsewhere. She is currently core faculty in the Writing for Children & Young Adults low-residency MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Philadelphia. For more information, visit

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