Five Easy Reasons Working With Roger Weingarten Is A Win:
1) He's a great poet
2) He's an excellent reader
3)He's an exemplary editor
4) He supports writers & is direct
5) He's great fun to talk to
A brilliant writer and teacher, Roger used his keen perceptions and resourceful suggestions to develop my skills to the point that I was able to publish several well-received chapbooks and two full collections of poetry while working with him. One of these collections won the May Swenson Poetry Award judged by Maxine Kumin. I also obtained publication grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts as Founding Editor of Passages North literary magazine. That attests to Roger's expertise in teaching, writing and publishing--as I learned from him. He is a delightful and generous poet, writer and critic.
I worked with Roger Weingarten on many of my poems over a three year period. We engaged in person, over the phone and in email correspondence. Our rapport was fun and productive as he offered excellent insights and advice leading to the publication of my first poetry book, Lingering Fire.
I’ve worked with Roger devotedly, off and on, over a dozen years, via lengthy phone conferences. Through his preparation and our discussions, he grew to know my poems, both old and new, and their tendencies, strengths and weaknesses, at least as intimately as I know them. But then the intensely critical devotion with which Roger has always brought to my work—with an uncompromising attention to each facet—has seen scores of my poems (including a killer 172 page manuscript) through their often difficult struggle.
If you’re serious about improving your poems, manuscript, what have you, working with Roger will help breathe new, inspired life into your project. You’ll get all kinds of ideas, suggestions, and insights—plus: he’ll broaden your notions of of traditional and free verse poetics. While not everyone has that one encourager, provocateur, guide, and immensely gifted editor, whose interaction with his or her work gives rise to a consummate, inalienable difference in its quality, I’ve been fortunate that Roger is mine.
I felt comfortable with Roger immediately, and under his mentorship I’ve made more progress than I thought possible. He’s a little bit like a surgeon and has an uncanny ability to go in and find — with great precision — what is and isn’t working in a poem. He does it without stomping out the integrity of your work. It’s some kind of magic.
I've been a student of Roger Weingarten since my times at the Vermont MFA 1995-1998. Roger was a founder, an inspirator and a foremost teacher at the program. I have been so enchanted with his live method of teaching and his superb, precise poetry that I continued for a number of years as his private student, colleague and a friend. Working with Roger become one of important parts of my entire life and made me a professional.
Roger’s deep knowledge of tradition and openness to innovation makes him the most insightful reader of my poems I have ever worked with. He’s enabled me to re-read and revise my poems in numerous new ways, and my work has vastly improved.
Dianna MacKinnon Henning
My work with Roger Weingarten has been challenging and deeply rewarding. He has shown me how to compress the poem by omitting unnecessary words and how to energize it through sometimes unexpected, cliff-hanging, line breaks. Roger is respectful, patient and magical in how he approaches the poem. A thoughtful magician of words. He sees links in the poems that I was unable to see—an extremely gifted editor. Roger does not beat around the bush. He wants the best for each poem. You can argue with him in defense of an aesthetic that is important to you which I did in my defense of a poem about poetry. Several of the poems have since been accepted by magazines for publication. And best of all, I have a manuscript ready for a publisher that I am proud of and have sent out. Since I live in a rural area with very little contact with other poets, my work with Roger has been an infusion of renewed love for the poem. It has honed my skills as a writer. I am deeply grateful for the experience of working with him.
Norbert Hirschhorn, MD
Roger was an astute reader of my poems in near-final form, to make them even better. My 2013 book, "To Sing Away the Darkest Days. Poems re-Imagined from Yiddish Folksongs" was the result. See www.bertzpoet.com.
Roger is magician. Slight of hand with word choice and the astonishing trick of sawing whole lines into halves and thirds. Really, Roger is maestro when it comes to the form of a poem, when it comes to finding the most interesting ways to break a line, when it comes to leading a poem to place where it becomes itself. These alone make an excellent teacher. But Roger also has a generosity of spirit with his students, giving both time and energy—I can remember the marathon phone calls from half a world away in my first semester at Vermont College. I still hold a place in my head for his voice when I’m trying to look at a poem in a new way. He’s the best of teachers.
It was Roger Weingarten who taught me poetry does not have to be a one way ticket to Kennebunkport. It can be a world tour with stops in Inuvik, Cappadocia, the Glow worm cave, and Bora Bora. Poetry can be huge as the headache-like monument of Edna Cravitz Hungarian Cheesefamine Ross, dead March 30th, 1896, in ankle-deep snow with a decanter of pomade in one hand and a Faberge Easter egg in the other..." Work with Roger. He's all killer, no filler.
Roger has an unerring sense of a poet's true voice and a sensitive understanding of how best to guide it. Roger quickly identified my strongest work and gave me the confidence to take thematic and emotional risks. His reading lists were nourishing and exciting. Roger truly made me feel understood and appreciated as a poet.
I worked very closely with Roger on individual poems and preparing my book ms, The Haberdasher's Daughter, to send out to publishers. He was as delighted as I was when it got picked up. He was always fully engaged when we worked together both in the Vermont College MFA program then privately for a number of years. He pushed me to see beyond my own narrow focus and to welcome writing outside the lines.
Roger brought out the real writer in me. Our work together was generative and encouraging; it helped me learn to trust my ear and develop my voice. Working with Roger led me to stop asking so much what was right and wrong, or good and bad, and instead just go for it: scavenge my world for material, offer the highest form of flattery to other writers by stealing their tricks, and write like my life depended on it.
Roger Weingarten is an amazing teacher and critic. He sees right to the heart of the poem when we, ourselves, don't quite yet know what we are trying to pin down. In such a way he makes revision possible while always keeping in mind the integrity of the poem. It is a pleasure to observe such a brilliant mind at work.
Roger Weingarten opened new paths to venture down as I revisited poems with his insights and suggestions. Our phone conversations made present day texting seem shallow. Roger’s imagination fired mine, and I’m forever grateful for our years of working together. He is a masterful writer and his teaching, a gift to any writer lucky enough to work with him.
Roger’s an extraordinary editor. I’ve worked with many others and he is by far the best. Working with Roger is like being in your own personal MFA program—and you don’t even have to leave your house.
I worked with Roger Weingarten during my MFA and found him to be an honest and incisive, yet kind, mentor. He worked patiently and thoroughly with my creative work, and offered especially valuable input on revision. I give him my highest recommendation.
Roger lifted the hood on my poems, pinpointed the weak parts, and always offered useful ideas for repairs. I learned an awful lot about syntax and scansion while I worked with him.
Starting with two of his Postgrad Conference workshops, then working with Roger for years one on one, our conversations have become essential to my writing process. His revision ideas take all of my idiosyncrasies into account, while he tirelessly attends to where the poems could go. His suggestions can be subtle or radical--either way, with his help, the poem's happier, and more itself. Work he did on my first book ms., due out in 2017, was invaluable.
Roger Weingarten is one of the most assured, original, and compelling American poets of the past half-century. Whatever modest merit there is in my own writing owes a major debt to his warmth, wisdom, and ceaselessly inventive gaze. He truly is a triple threat: poet, teacher, editor. For his hundreds of former students, Roger’s voices of encouragement, critique, and suggestive play serve as a Greek chorus of the imagination each time we sit to fill an empty page. His help in editing and shaping my first book, Plash and Levitation, was ingenius and inspired.
Roger Weingarten has a wonderful eye for a poem's shape, how to concentrate energy, enhance language. I particularly benefited both from his detailed grasp of lineation, and his big-picture agenda to lift a poem above the mundane.
Roger is more than editor, teacher — he's a collaborator. We're currently working on a complex project to thread hundreds of historical flash fiction pieces into a tapestry. He infuses love into every word, sentence, and character. He knows each word must work, and carry weight. Under his guidance, needless weight gets jettisoned, so the reader's imagination can soar. I am grateful for all his attention, care, and time.
After taking Roger's workshops at annual Post-Graduate Conferences, I turned to him for support at a transitional time: he read a full-length manuscript and gave key pieces of advice that transformed it: find a more evocative title; get rid of subject-organized sections; allow its lyrically impelled implicit narrative to move back and forth between poems; and start with one seminal piece that lets the reader enter the world the speaker evokes and through which she moves.
After a lengthy phone conference, energized by his suggestions, I spread the poems out and sought relationships of imagery, diction, and voice. For a title, I looked for an evocative phrase or image that leapt out. Roger's response when I sent him the new version was succinct: "Perfect--send it out." A few months later, Seasons of Mangoes and Brainfire won the Blue Lynx Prize. In fact, the previous year, the older version had been a finalist. Reorganizing and the new title made the difference. For this, I have Roger to thank!
Roger Weingarten views words as leaves—ever moving, changing colors, growing. He has helped me break free of patterned writing, and arrange all those leaves in ways that grab imaginations with new visions. And Roger’s sensitivity with words is mirrored in his solicitude for his students.