Deborah Bogen

Poet and Novelist

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Chosen by Helene Cordona for the 2017 Jacar Press Poetry Book Award, "Free Fall" contains a suite of poems chosen by Jericho Brown for the 2016 New Letters Poetry Prize.
"What we have in Deborah Bogen's Let Me Open You a Swan is sublime poetry, the rare gift of a terrifying look into the shaping of a warrior poet and her work. " Michelle Mitchell-Foust "In Bogen, suffering cannot be transcended, and yet, while tribulation is fiercely present, it brings to the world an ironic and stubborn luster, a glint, a scintilla of light. "Let Me Open You a Swan" is a vibrant and wholly original work." Lynn Emanuel
Landscape With Silos was a National Poetry Series Finalist and Winner of the 2005 XJ Kennedy Poetry Prize

"Deb Bogen writes poetry that is naked and necessary, unadorned and political, intelligent and genereous. The book brims with intelligence." ---Carol Frost
Living by the Children's Cemetery was Winner of the 2002 ByLine Press Chapbook Competition

Judge Edward Hirsch commented that the book "provides a profound answer to the poet's own call for 'someting sinister, something/ fragile, something Bessie Smith/ could sing.'"


I was trained to run workshops by Doug Anderson (he's a terrific poet - see "The Moon Reflected Fire"- as well as memoirist and fiction writer.) I don't know where Doug learned this method so no claims are made to ownership. The process is fun, deep and very useful. It relies on the exploitation of atrophy. By this I mean --- the elements of our writing which get no response tend to fade away, while things that are noticed tend to thrive. Often "workshopping" focuses on "what doesn't work" with folks saying things like "I wanted more X" which is often a covert way of saying "you screwed this bit up badly."

My workshop opens with readings from good poets or short fictionists to tune up our ears and send us to the place where we do not inhibit our writing. Then I give a writing prompt (brief warm-up and then main prompt) and everyone writes for twenty-five minutes. This is very free flow writing to the prompt with no internal editor, trusting that something wants to get written.

At the end of the writing time we all read every word we have written. Here's where it's GOOD. Rather than commenting on things that don't quite work, or giving suggestions for fixing things up, we respond to the things that spoke to us, things we noticed as working. This sends the writer's attention to the part of the piece that should be listened to and expanded - it is truly amazing how many times we writers completely miss what is exciting in our first drafts. This workshop lets us help each other catch the good stuff. It runs about an hour and a half, and is great to hold before a reading. I'm always happy to do these for free in conjunction with any reading.

The Pittsburgh Monday Night Workshop

I've been hosting a writing group in my home in Pittsburgh for the past seven years. Over time folks have come and gone but now we seem to have a core of fiction writers and poets who are committed to their own work and the work of their fellows. It's a great way to keep the writing going. Each time we meet we write to new prompts and receive feedback about what is exciting, new or interesting in the piece. There is no critique and no reworking "last's week's piece" this week. We are each responsible for working on things, getting good critique etc. outside this one special setting where we give ourselves over to the pleasure of unbridled writing.