poems in community


Poems in Community© describes workshops I design for small groups in New York City. I also teach in academia. Places I have taught most recently include:

Barnard College
Brooklyn Poets
Central Synagogue
Congregation Beth Elohim
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Senior Center
92nd St Y
NYU School of Medicine WTC Health Program
(for 9/11 first responders)
Temple Emanuel’s Skirball Academy (Spring 2023)
Vassar (Winter 2021)

I hope to begin a workshop for parents who are nurturing children with chronic mental health issues, combining traditional group support with a poetry workshop focused on the imagination and intellect of the parents themselves.

If you are part of any community looking to read and write together, drop me a line and I can tell you more.

Workshop Reviews

Our agency sparkles with a different energy when Jess is onsite. Her poetry workshop’s dedicated participants, all older adults ranging in age from early 70s to mid-80s, show up weekly regardless of weather, each eager to explore the poems Jess has chosen and those they have written and wish to share. Jess has a way of creating a space where there are no wrong answers and where all are welcome to engage with poetry whether they are just beginning or have loved the form for a long time. She has knit together a beautiful community. But shh! So many members of the group have told friends about Jess that the room is overflowing!

Dorot staff of the Lasting Impressions Department

The class i took with Jess on Torah and poetry [at Congregation Beth Elohim] was really transformative. Her ability to find poems that draw out the themes of the Torah readings offered a new way in to both the poetry and the texts. Jess is a smart and generous teacher, creating a wonderful space for sharing and creativity.

Jo-Ann M

I have taken Jessica’s workshop at Central Synagogue every session she offers it – it is such a joy! She has opened my eyes (and heart) to poetry I might never have read on my own. And she brings these poems into a wider historical or literary context, which expands my understanding and often provides that “AHA!” moment when I can say oh, so that is what is meant. She encourages us to write and read our own poems and is supportive and non-judgmental but also very helpful. Jessica has wonderful sensibility and depth and I love her classes. 

Sylvia S

Jessica’s wonderful choice of poems and thoughtful steering of our discussions (with our group at Central Synagogue) inspire me to pain vivid pictures in my mine and [as a painter] on the canvas.

Beth B

Jess leads lively class discussions that routinely produces great insights into all of the material. All class members are devoted attendees and routinely acknowledge that they achieve greater understanding as a result of class discussion. I highly recommend her class.

Phil B

I’ve taken courses with Jess in each year over the last several years, and look forward to many more.  That’s noteworthy because, before having met Jess, I had zero background in modern poetry. Jess’ classes are a sheer delight; the depth of her knowledge of a vast body of poetry is astounding; and she has an uncanny ability to find, and to draw out, connections between ancient biblical texts and themes of modern poets. She is graciously respectful of class comments, while also continuously guiding the class toward deeper insights. 

Peter J

I had never before written a line of poetry, but while participating in a workshop led by Jess at my senior center I came up with a collection of poems to give to my family. Jess is warm and encouraging, and a supremely talented poet. Her workshop is a treasure.

Trish P

As the group leader for our poetry class [at the 92nd St. Y], Jess imparts her extensive knowledge and skill with a touch that includes humor, dedication, and fair-mindedness. Her critiques always have the clear purpose of teaching rather than just giving an opinion about whether or not a poem is good.  I always enjoy her classes.

Ellen D

[For our Brooklyn Poets workshop] I really liked how Jess spoke about our poems, always very warm and considerate, giving each poem her full attention, regardless of personal style or preferences. Her comments were to the point, and the conversations fruitful and inspiring.

Julia K

Jessica’s Central Synagogue class this fall on ‘Hidden Women Figures’ in Jewish history once again revealed her great ability to fuse a thousands-of-year old past with the poetry of today. Her research to find excellent and moving contemporary poems to mirror our Biblical texts enriched our learning immensely. Her enthusiasm, ability to be responsive to a variety of different student voices, and her sensitivity to a work’s language and form made each class session a memorable one. She is a fine listener. Jessica’s warmth and humor, and her evident modesty made the group a true and deeply valued communal experience.

Neil G