The Colrain Manuscript Classic Online is a highly focused, four-day Intensive designed for poets with manuscripts in progress. The Classic features in-depth pre-conference work and candid, realistic evaluation and feedback from nationally-known poets, editors and publishers. In preparation, participants work at home on pre-conference assignments and then, in the workshop, review, arrange, and winnow their work based on the pre-conference work. In addition to the manuscript preparation workshop and editor sessions, there is an editorial Q&A, and an after-conference strategy session.

Agenda (All times are EST)

Friday:  you will receive your Zoom link via email for the Overview and Introductions on Friday, August 9 at 5pm (bring your own wine!). We’ll talk about backgrounds in poetry, goals and expectations. Faculty will present an overview of the weekend.

Saturday: workshops begin at 10 am EST, break for lunch at 1pm and continue through the afternoon until around 5.

Sunday:  editorial sessions begin at 10 am EST, break for lunch, and continue through the afternoon until around 5.

Monday:  wrap-up discussion and publication strategies going forward from 10am until around 11:30.


You will work with poet & founder Joan Houlihan, Stephen Motika, poet & publisher/director of Nightboat Books and poet & translator Ellen Dore Watson.


Stephen Motika

Stephen Motika is poet and publisher of Nightboat Books. His most recent collection is Western Practice, published by Alice James Books in 2012. He is also the author of two chapbooks, Arrival and At Mono (2007) and In the Madrones (2011), and editor of Tiresias: The Collected Poems of Leland Hickman (2009). His articles and poems have appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, At Length, BOMB, The Brooklyn Review, Eleven Eleven, Maggy, The Poetry Project, and Vanitas among other publications. He has taught at Naropa University and in the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. He is the former program director at Poets House and current director and publisher of Nightboat Books.

Ellen Dore Watson

Poet and translator Ellen Doré Watson is Director Emerita of The Poetry Center at Smith College. She served for three decades as poetry and translation editor of The Massachusetts Review, and taught in the Drew University Low-Residency MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation for many years. Her fifth full-length collection, pray me stay eager, is available from Alice James Books. Earlier books include Dogged Hearts (Tupelo Press, 2010), This Sharpening (also from Tupelo), and two from Alice James, We Live in Bodies and Ladder Music, winner of the New England/New York award. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry ReviewTin HouseOrion, and The New Yorker. Among her honors are a Rona Jaffe Writers Award, fellowships to the MacDowell Colony and to Yaddo, and a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship. Watson’s best-known works of translation are The Alphabet in the Park and Ex-Voto, both by Brazilian Adélia Prado. Currently, she leads four Zoom workshops and takes on private students for developmental editing of poetry and translations manuscripts.

Joan Houlihan

Joan Houlihan is the author of six books of poetry, most recently It Isn’t a Ghost if it Lives in Your Chest (Four Way Books, 2021), winner of the Julia Ward Howe Award and a Notable Indie Award; and Shadow-feast (Four Way Books, 2018), a Massachusetts Center for the Book Must-Read. Her other books are: The Us, named a Must-Read of 2009 by Massachusetts Center for the Book, and Ay, both from Tupelo Press; The Mending Worm, winner of the Green Rose Award from New Issues Press; and Hand-Held Executions: Poems & Essays. In addition to publishing in a wide array of leading journals, including Poetry, Boston Review, Harvard Review, Ploughshares and Gulf Coast. Her critical essays are archived online at Her work has been anthologized in The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries (University of Iowa Press) and The Book of Irish-American Poetry–Eighteenth Century to Present (University of Notre Dame Press). She has taught at Columbia University, Emerson College and Smith College and currently serves on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Houlihan founded and directs the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.    

 How to Apply

Before you apply, please visit the Conference Criteria page to make certain this conference is right for you. If so, send a bio and 4-5 poems from your manuscript to us at: and we’ll get back to you within three days.

Conference Fee

Following successful application, the registration fee is $1,000.00.