Nov 14

Photos from Full Bleed Opening Night!

Thank you to CJ Dawson Photography for taking these amazing photos from our opening night event of the Full Bleed Poetry Comics show! Artwork is continuing to sell out fast at our online store. Hurry up and get yours! And enjoy the photos!


Oct 14

Nov. 6–7, 2014: Two Special Events! FULL BLEED: Poetry Comics Show

Poster by Bianca Stone

Poster by Bianca Stone

Nov. 6–7, 2014: Two Special Events!

FULL BLEED: Poetry Comics Show

“The visual has always been an important means of communication, from caveman paintings, to graphic novels, to IKEA instruction manuals. We know it fits in somewhere with poetry, beginning with how poets and artists have always looked lovingly upon one another, and ending somewhere more uncharted. … Poetry and poets who interact with the visual has limitless implications, from traditional use of the comic-strip and comic book, to a much more experimental use of text and image. I wish to go boldly, willingly, into Poetry Comics, and see what people are doing out there. I’m not entirely concerned with defining what I mean by Poetry Comics, but rather seeing how many tiny silver arrows we can launch at it. And perhaps how many it can launch back at us.” –Bianca Stone

FULL BLEED celebrates the art of the poetry comic. In the same way that full bleed printing expands to the edge of the page, poetry comics dilate across genre lines. Poetry as bleeding heart mixes with the whimsy of comics to produce work that startles and ignites. Word and image hold hands, tell each other stories, console each other, party together.

Artwork from the show is now available for sale online! Visit our store to view pieces.

Bianca Stone
is the co-founder and editor of Monk Books, author of Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Tin House/Octopus Books, 2014), and co-author of Antigonick, with Anne Carson (New Directions, 2012). She founded the Ruth Stone Foundation in 2012 and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Matthea Harvey is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Of Lamb and If the Tabloids are True What are You? and two books for children.

Sommer Browning‘s most recent book of poetry is Backup Singers (Birds, LLC; 2014). She is also the author of Either Way I’m Celebrating (Birds, LLC; 2011), a collection of poetry and comics, and various chapbooks. She works as a librarian in Denver.

Sampson Starkweather is the author of The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather. He is a founding editor of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press. His most recent chapbook is Flowers of Rad by Factory Hollow Press, and he lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Jon-Michael Frank has work published or forthcoming in Anti-, Inter/rupture, Sink Review, Sixth Finch, and Spork Press, among others. A chapbook of poems is forthcoming from Birds LLC, and another chapbook, of comics, is being released by El Aleph Press in 2014. Jon-Michael is also an assistant editor for the small press Birds, LLC, helps run a reading series in Austin, TX, called Fun Party, and sells illustrations about life, or the lack of it, on etsy.

Annie Mok makes comics, collaboratively and solo, acts, and sings in the pop group See-Through Girls. She lives in Philadelphia. “Shadow Manifesto” is a three-part series that ran on ZEAL, a website spotlighting criticism and responses to video games.

Paul Siegell is the author of wild life rifle fire, jambandbootleg, and Poemergency Room. He is a copywriter at the Philadelphia Inquirer and a senior editor at Painted Bride Quarterly. Kindly find more of Paul’s work – and concrete poetry t-shirts – at “ReVeLeR @ eYeLeVeL” (http://paulsiegell.blogspot.com/).

Emily Ballas is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer, for now. She is an eager, curious type. Design-wise and otherwise. Part builder, experimenter, and storyteller, Emily’s work can be found at www.emilyballas.com.

Hila Ratzabi is a poet and freelance editor. She is the author of the chapbook The Apparatus of Visible Things (Finishing Line Press, 2009). She is founder of the Red Sofa Salon & Poetry Workshop (and reading series) in Philadelphia, and the editor-in-chief and poetry editor of the literary journal Storyscape.

FULL BLEED: Poetry Comics Show
Thursday November 6th, 7:00pm
Exhibit preview and poetry reading featuring:
Bianca Stone
Sommer Browning
Sampson Starkweather
Annie Mok
Paul Siegell

Hosted by Hila Ratzabi

Friday November 7th, 5:00–9:00pm
First Friday opening night
Complimentary cupcakes from Whipped Bakeshop!
Live, sliding-scale sketch portraits of guests by artist Annie Mok!

Both events are free and take place at Indy Hall

Indy Hall, 22 N. 3rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106

Jul 14

A Beautiful Collaboration

In spring 2013, I had the good fortune of having poet MaryAnn Miller join my Urban Nature Ecopoetry Workshop. From day 1 she was hooked; the workshop theme was right up her alley. It was wonderful to see MaryAnn’s poems in response to the environment, and yesterday we got to read together at Big Blue Marble Bookstore as part of an event called “For the Love of this Blue Planet: An Evening of Ecopoetry.” We also revealed the results of a collaboration. MaryAnn designed and printed broadsides of my poem, “Sedna the Arctic Sea Goddess,” originally published in Alaska Quarterly Review. I’m happy to announce the the limited edition broadside is now available for sale. Take a look, and enjoy! May your artistic collaborations be fruitful!


Jun 14

Design your ideal writing workshop — take our survey!


The Red Sofa Salon & Poetry Workshop has been around since April 2013. We are still very new at this and are always interested in learning what YOU want from a writing workshop. Whether you’ve just discovered the Red Sofa or have been a curious lurker for a while, I’d love to get your feedback on what you are looking for in your ideal writing workshop. Please take the following short survey to share your thoughts. This is totally anonymous. If you’d like to talk more about your workshop needs after you’ve taken the survey, please email me at redsofasalon@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!


Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

May 14

Whitman in the Woods

This Sunday was the second workshop in the Urban Nature Ecopoetry series. We set up a picnic by the sandy shore of Wissahickon Creek, read poetry of the Romantics and Trascendentalists, and wrote our own poems inspired by our readings and the natural surroundings. It was a perfect spring evening! Check out the pics below, and please join us for this Thursday’s (May 22) workshop at Bartram’s Gardens where we’ll be reading William Carlos Williams’s “Spring & All.” Register here.

IMG_4337 IMG_4338 IMG_4339 IMG_4340 IMG_4342 IMG_4344 IMG_4345 IMG_4349 IMG_4350

May 14

Updated Schedule for Urban Nature Ecopoetry Workshop

Due to popular demand, the dates of the ecopoetry workshop have been amended. You also now have the option of joining for single workshop sessions as opposed to the whole batch.

Regular price is $50 per session, or discount: all 5 dates for $240. SPECIAL DISCOUNT if you attend the Red Sofa Reading Series tomorrow$40 per session, instead of $50.

Email redsofasalon@gmail.com to join. Register at the links below.

Register for full series @ $240 for 5 dates

Register for individual sessions @ $50 per date

Sunday May 18, 5:30–7:30pm: The Romantics and the Transcendentalists

Forbidden Drive (specific meeting spot announced to attendees)

Thursday May 22, 6:30–8:30pm: “Spring & All,” William Carlos Williams

At Bartram’s Gardens

Monday May 26, 6:30–8:30pm: Poetry of the Third Landscape: Experiments with Space

Location TBA

Monday June 2, 6:30–8:30pm: Activist Poetics

At the Red Sofa

Sunday June 8, 11:00am: Poetry of the Non-human

At the Philadelphia Zoo, followed by Philly Literary Family Reunion & Potluck at 1:00pm (Clark Park)

Apr 14

Announcing Spring Workshop!

I’m thrilled to announce the theme of the Spring 2014 workshop! Check out the snazzy poster below and register early to save your seat!


Mar 14

What Did You Do On Your Residency? I Sat And I Stared: A Lesson from Seinfeld

The writing process is notoriously mysterious and hard to describe, especially when one is in it. Writers are used to having to prove to people that they actually work, even though what they do doesn’t look a lot like work, or a lot like anything. Case in point: I’m coming up on the last week of my residency at the Vermont Studio Center. What did I do while I was here? It probably doesn’t look like much. The question reminds me of that Seinfeld scene where Elaine describes doing nothing.

JERRY: So what did you do last night?

ELAINE: Nothing.

JERRY: No, I know nothing, but what did you actually do?

ELAINE: Literally nothing. I sat in a chair and I stared.

JERRY: Wow, that really is nothing.

ELAINE: I told ya.

IMG_4090Most days of the residency involved walking from one building to another, eating food, talking to people, but most of the time just sitting and staring: out the window, at a book, at the computer, in my notebook. Today, for example, I wasn’t expecting much. Like every other day, I showed up at the writing studio really hoping I’d come up with something to write about. Then I decided to spend the morning avoiding writing, by doing some administrative work for my literary journal. This was a useful distraction––I got some things done, which felt good, but it had nothing to do with my writing.

Then when I was ready to really work, I picked up the photocopy of William Carlos Williams’s Spring and All, which I had decided at some point was going to inspire me. I waded through some beautiful sections, some confusing parts, and then landed on something that made me stop. The sentence spoke to a difficulty I was having in moving forward and more deeply into my poetry collection. Something about the sentence made me put down the photocopy, pick up my notebook, and write. And then I wrote something that really surprised me––that felt new and exciting. It was probably the thing I’d hoped would happen, but not at all the words I would have expected to come out.

You can’t ever know what will happen.

And I know people say this a lot, but you really have to show up. And showing up is brave. I totally dread approaching my work sometimes cause I think I have nothing to say or it’s not going to be great. But I surprise myself over and over. I’ve seen that happen during the residency, where my job has been to show up. I’ve learned that if you sit and stare long enough nothing will become something. So what did I do on my residency? Nothing. And everything. And I even have some poems to prove it.

Mar 14

In the Middle of It: Notes from Vermont

IMG_4100I’m on the other side of the Ides of March, post-Purim (the holiday of reversals), and inhabiting another side of myself. I am two weeks into my first writing residency, with two weeks to go. The first week here at the Vermont Studio Center was long and deep. I started writing immediately on the first day (even at the airport on the way from Philadelphia), and kept up a good pace for the first few days. The experience has been a big adjustment, an inversion of my everyday life at home, where there’s always something else to do other than focus on my poetry. Here poetry comes first, and that’s thrilling and frightening.

I enter my writing studio after breakfast and I expect to just walk straight into the deepest parts of myself. Eileen Myles was a visiting writer here the first week and talked about the writing process as similar to when a dog circles and circles trying to find the perfect position in which to get comfortable. That’s how I feel when I walk into the studio. I pace, move books around, fill my water bottle. Finally I sit down in the velvet green armchair by the window overlooking the frozen lake. I stare out the window and start to feel my mind move. Sometimes I fall asleep. Sometimes I pick up a book and read and a sentence injects itself in me and I grab my journal and start a new poem. I get up for lunch. I return. I go to yoga or to chop vegetables for my kitchen duty. I eat dinner, return to the studio at night.

I have moments where I’m worried I haven’t written enough each day––that old capitalist impulse toward mass production. But artistic production is much wider and deeper; poems don’t take shape on an assembly line. They inhabit the moments in between the actual writing of poems. It’s true that you have to show up for the muse. You have to treat the process as primary, as the first thing you’re responsible for. So that even when you’re not writing, the poems brew. You learn to be gentle with them. You learn to be okay with just sitting there for a while. The longer you do it the more normal it feels, and like animals, the poems begin to feel more comfortable emerging from the underground.

It’s kind of painful at first to transition to this way of working––you’re afraid you won’t make anything good, that you’re wasting time. You want to go home, be with your partner, go to a party, watch a movie. But the poems are spirit animals walking alongside you, sometimes going off on their own, but always returning. You have to feed them. You have to make it your full-time job.

Feb 14

Dreaming About Spring


Tulips, April 2013

News flash: It’s freaking cold right now. And icy. Everywhere. I am done with this weather. You are done with this weather. Let’s drink tea and cry a bit, shall we?

Bitterness aside, this season has been interesting for me. I’m getting ready to embark on a month-long residency at the Vermont Studio Center in March. I feel like lately I’ve been in hibernation to some extent, getting myself mentally prepared to fully devote myself to writing poems. I’m nervous and excited and feeling some pressure, but mostly just grateful that I created this opportunity for myself and that I have a supportive community that has helped make this happen.

I’m also very much looking forward to spring. At the end of my residency, I’ll be flying straight to Washington, D.C., where I’ll participate in a female-poet-rebel (yeah!) panel/reading at the Split This Rock Poetry Festival. I then return to Philly where I’ll be offering an eco-poetry workshop at The Head & The Hand Press (April 3rd), and doing a reading at the Free Library Independence Branch (April 7th). Then it’s Passover (and I’m dreaming up a one-day workshop related to that theme… stay tuned), and then I’m leading my Eco-Poetry Workshop in Costa Rica (starting April 27… that is, if we get the minimum number of folks to register! I hope we do!). Then the Red Sofa Poetry Workshop returns on May 5th, along with the reading series on May 9th!

So many warm-weather plans… but for now, it’s time for me to go inward. Into that quiet space of observation and reflection that will hopefully bring many new and necessary poems into this world. I wish you all a cozy and productive season, and look forward to seeing you and hearing your poems in the spring.

Feb 14

Eco-Poetry Workshop Feb. 13

I’m very happy to share that I’ll be offering a unique, eco-poetry workshop at The Head & The Hand Press this coming Thursday Feb. 13, 6:30–8:00pm. Cost is $10 or free for HH members. Prepare to do some reading, walking, and writing inspired by the concept of the “Third Landscape” (more on that below!). Hope to see you there!

Poetry of the Third Landscape: An Eco-Poetry Workshop with Hila Ratzabi

The uncultivated spaces in our city are filled with the seeds of poems nestled between sidewalk cracks, in dilapidated buildings, and forgotten parks. French landscape architect Gilles Clément coined the term “Third Landscape,” which refers to “left behind … urban or rural sites, transitional spaces, neglected land … swamps, moors, peat bogs, but also roadsides, shores, railroad embankments, etc.” Within these leftover landscapes, amidst the debris of our efforts to subdue nature, we can discover fragments of unexpected beauty to fuel our creative engines.

Taking inspiration from our urban landscape, in this interactive workshop we will briefly read and discuss poems that inhabit these marginal spaces that poet Jonathan Skinner describes as “disturbed ground.” We will do a writing exercise in which we go on a short walk to observe the landscape, and return to the workshop to write and (optionally) to share poems.


“ ‘The third landscape’ is the term Clément uses to classify wastelands such as former industrial areas or nature reserves that are prime locations for accumulating bio-diversity. These landscapes are places of indecision where we can witness the relationship between the city and spontaneous biodiversity, bringing an ecological value to these otherwise neglected and discarded areas.” 

–Will Foster, “Gilles Clément – A brief introduction

“While the Romantic imagining of pristine landscapes still frames much American literature, its environments are now pervasively marked by ‘third landscapes’—disturbed ground, neither preserved nor cultivated. How does poetics engage this territory of weedy innovation?”

–Jonathon Skinner, “Conceptualizing the field: Some compass points for ecopoetics,” Jacket2

Jan 14

Two Incredible Poetry Events This Weekend!

Please join me for the first two Red Sofa events of 2014! I’m thrilled to host three wonderful poets this Friday, January 31st at 7pm for the Red Sofa Reading Series at Indy Hall. Jeffery McDaniel has been called “probably the most important poet in America” (Major Jackson), and is a Philly native! Amy King’s poetry has been praised by none other than John Ashbery. And Cynthia Lowen’s award-winning debut poetry collection is about the invention of the atom bomb. So be prepared for an EXPLOSIVE evening of poetry. As usual, food and wine will be served!

Make sure you snag a seat in advance and get a discounted ticket now!

The next event is happening the very next afternoon, Saturday February 1st at 2pm (do I ever sleep?). I will be doing a reading with Cynthia Lowen and will lead a discussion about poetry on social and environmental justice. I was intrigued by her poems on the atom bomb, which led me to reflect on my own attempts to write about another difficult topic of our time — climate change. I look forward to a dynamic discussion on these important issues. And the event wouldn’t be complete without some delicious snacks, hot cocoa, and cider! We hope to see you there. Advance, discounted tickets available here. This event is co-sponsored by the Coalition for Peace Action Pennsylvania.

Here’s to an inspiring and reflective start of 2014!