“Refrain from Harming Life In Order to Learn About It”

Writing Like an Animal

Persona Poetry Workshop with Gretchen Primack

Saturday, November 20, 2021, 2:00 – 4:00 pm EST


Jane O'Hara Listening

Poet, educator, and animal advocate Gretchen Primack will lead a virtual workshop, WRITING LIKE AN ANIMAL, on Saturday, November 20th at 2-4pmEST, to explore writing poetry from the perspective of other animals. Persona Poems, as they are called, are a uniquely personal kind of poetry and a creative tool for speaking through the voice of a fictional individual, human or animal, to see through their eyes. Using the power of words, imagination, and compassion, Persona Poems connect us with the experiences of others, in ways that inspire empathy and meaningful change.

Footsteps in the sand

WRITING LIKE AN ANIMAL is a one-time-only free virtual poetry workshop, hosted by Compassion Arts Festival on zoom, for people age 18 and older. The workshop will introduce participants to the medium of persona poetry and teach the basics of how to write persona poems from the perspective of other animals. This workshop is recommended for teachers, advocates, writers, animal caregivers and for anyone who cares about animals and wishes to explore ways to give expression to the depth of that connection, or who wishes to use writing poetry as a tool for encouraging the consideration of animals in other people, from a more compassionate point of view.

This workshop is limited to a small group and so people interested in attending must sign up in advance by Nov. 18th to receive the zoom link and class information. Workshop attendees will receive a copy of Gretchen Primack’s book KIND, and will also be offered the opportunity, if interested, to share their Persona Poems at Compassion Arts’ Creating Peace Reading Circle program the following week on Friday 11/26 at 7pmEST, on zoom as a guest of Unity of Central Mass.

Gretchen at hen house

Gretchen Primack is a writer and teacher living in upstate New York. She is a passionate advocate for the rights and welfare of both human and animal lives, and has been a contributing presenter for Compassion Arts since 2016. For more information about her work, see her bio on this page or visit her website at

Absence of Unnecessary Hurting

An Evening of Poetry by Gretchen Primack with Mandy-Suzanne Wong

Saturday, November 20, 2021, 7:00 – 8:00 pm EST

Open Cages

The festival will explore the tenets of “The Seventh Trust- Refrain from Harming Life In Order To Learn About It”, with an evening of readings of selected poems by Gretchen Primack from her book “Kind” and excerpted writings by special guest Mandy-Suzanne Wong from her book “Listen, We All Bleed”. The program will stream live on the festival website Saturday, November 20th at 7:00-8:00pm EST. The program’s title references the poem by Gretchen Primack, The Absence of Unnecessary Hurting, on which the heart of this Seventh Trust program is based.

Gretchen Primack

Gretchen Primack
Kind Poems book cover

Gretchen Primack is a poet, animal advocate, and educator living in New York’s Hudson Valley. She’s the author of three poetry collections: Kind (Lantern Publishing), which explores the dynamic between humans and other animals in our time and place; Visiting Days (Willow Books), which imagines a maximum-security men’s NYS prison like the ones where she’s taught; and Doris’ Red Spaces (Mayapple Press), a more personal collection; along with a chapbook, The Slow Creaking of Planets (Finishing Line). She co-wrote The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals with Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary co-founder Jenny Brown (Penguin Avery). Her poetry publication credits include The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, FIELD, Poet Lore, The Massachusetts Review, The Antioch Review, New Orleans Review, Rhino, Tampa Review, and many others journals and anthologies. She has taught and/or administrated with prison education programs (mostly college) since 2006 and is a dedicated advocate for the rights of both humans and animals.

Mandy-Suzanne Wong

Mandy-Suzanne Wong

Bermudian Mandy-Suzanne Wong is an award-winning novelist and essayist and the author of the newly released book Listen, we all bleed (New Rivers 2021), an informative, powerful, and haunting essay collection devoted to works about the world of non-human (animal) voices. Wong is also the author of the essay collection and exhibition catalog Animals Across Discipline, Time & Space (McMaster) and the award-winning nonfiction chapbook Artificial Wilderness. She is the author of the debut novel Drafts of a Suicide Note (Regal House) and her first story collection, Awabi, (new edition in 2022). Her next novel, The Box, will be published by Graywolf (2023). Her work appears in Arcturus, Black Warrior Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Entropy, The Island Review, Necessary Fiction, Permafrost, Quail Bell, The Spectacle, and other venues. She is represented by Akin Akinwumi at Willenfield Literary Agency.