Building a Shelter of Peace: A Multifaith Poetry Workshop Series

Led by Dilruba Ahmed, Cathleen Cohen, Anjana Deshpande, and Chelsea Jackson

Sundays, Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, 2020,  2:00–4:00 PM ET 
$144 for four sessions

"The missing link in our age is empathy and the recognition of the shared humanity of another… Radical empathy, on the other hand, means putting in the work to learn and to listen with a heart wide open..."

Isabel Wilkerson

Peace and empathy are necessary for healing this fractured world. During this season of Sukkot, which evokes the divine “shelter of peace” (sukkat shalom), a diverse group of poets from Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Christian backgrounds will lead a series of workshops to guide us toward connection and peace through poetry.   

Anjana Deshpande will invite us into the domain of Hindu goddesses to spark our creativity. Dilruba Ahmed will present the rich poetic form of the ghazal which originated in Arabic poetry. Cathleen Cohen will guide us in (re)discovering both well known and lesser known Jewish poets of the twentieth century. Chelsea Jackson will draw from the mystical practices of tarot and the occult as a springboard for innovative writing. Participants will be encouraged to try different writing exercises and connect with each other through shared poetry. People of all backgrounds and levels of experience are welcome. 


All sessions will be recorded and available to participants. You may join the session live or watch recordings at your own convenience.

To view our full list of online learning opportunities visit:

Dilruba Ahmed is the author of Bring Now the Angels (Pitt Poetry Series, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020). Her debut book of poetry, Dhaka Dust (Graywolf Press), won the Bakeless Prize. Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, New England Review, and The New York Times Magazine. Her poems have also been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2019, Halal If You Hear Me, Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry, and elsewhere. She holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers.

Cathleen Cohen was the 2019 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pa. A painter, poet and teacher, she founded ArtWell’s “We the Poets” program in Philadelphia ( Her poems have appeared in Apiary, Baltimore Review, Cagibi, Chrysalis Journal, East Coast Ink, Philadelphia Stories and other journals. Her chapbook Camera Obscura was published by Moonstone Arts Press.

Anjana Deshpande is a therapist, published author and workshop facilitator. She is the founder of Writethought, a company that helps “Educate, Empower and Enrich” lives through the written word. She works with both clients and clinicians who wish to get acquainted with the power of therapeutic writing, and presents workshops regularly. She serves on the board of the NFBPT.

Chelsea Jackson is awestruck by creativity and its power to challenge and comfort. She uses her poetry to ask hard questions, engage in justice/social change, and explore what it means to be human. Chelsea is published in Avalon and the Platform Review, and was a finalist in the 2020 Driftwood Press In-House Poetry Contest. She has her MFA in Poetry from Drew University. Originally from Southeastern Va., she now lives in Philadelphia with her partner and their cat and pit bull.