Workshop for High-School-Age Poets: Monstrous Masks

As part of the 2015 West End Poetry Festival, Ansel Elkins (whose debut collection, Blue Yodel, won the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2014) will lead a free workshop titled “Monstrous Masks: Experimenting with Persona in Poetry” and designed for high-school-age poets.

As space is limited, please pre-register for the workshop by October 15 to reserve a spot.

Free Workshop for High-School-Age Poets at the 2015 West End Poetry FestivalDetails about the workshop are included below. A flyer about the workshop is also available. We’d appreciate any help in spreading the word about the workshop to high-school-age poets!

For details about the other events of the 2015 West End Poetry Festival (all free and open to the public), see the full festival schedule.


Persona, meaning mask in Latin, can offer creative writers rich possibilities to imagine, inhabit, and explore the fictional voice of someone who might at first seem strange, bizarre, or a little frightening. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, when the outcast creature encounters his own reflection for the first time in a pool of water, what he sees is “a monster.” But what is a monster? And how can we turn the fear of the strange and extraordinary on its head by imaging the internal life of someone considered “other” because he/she is different? In this workshop, we’ll talk about some famous monsters, outcasts, and so-called “freaks of nature” in literature, myth, and history and explore ways to use the poetic technique of dramatic monologue to inhabit a perspective different from our own and write poems from these “monstrous” masks.


The free workshop is designed for high-school-age participants and it will be led by Ansel Elkins.

Ansel is the author of Blue Yodel, winner of the 2014 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. Her poems have appeared in The American Scholar, The Believer, Oxford American, Parnassus, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, the American Antiquarian Society, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, as well as a Discovery/Boston Review Prize. She has held residencies at Hedgebrook, the James Merrill House, and was The Paris Review Writer-in-Residence at the Standard, East Village in downtown Manhattan in 2014. She is currently visiting assistant professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

When and Where

The workshop will be held in downtown Carrboro at the Century Center from 3 to 4:15 pm on Saturday, October 17.


To reserve a spot in the workshop, please complete the brief form below. If you have questions, send us a note at