Please note that this is an online workshop conducted via Zoom. Participants will be provided information on how to join the online sessions.
Louise Erdrich says we must embrace that “life will break you … Nobody can protect you from that … You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
In this multi-genre workshop—using poetry, personal essay and hybrid forms—we will explore the idea that each of us carry a multitude of stories that are worth being told—from the sweet to the bitter. This workshop focuses on the craft of writing personal material—and how we can tell our stories best through careful manipulation of craft elements like imagery, tone, voice, syntax, or point of view. We will also practice the delicate art of handling our own personal narratives with great attention to public and private boundaries, gaining power as writers to shape what is meaningful and impactful, and using tools of language in order to manage the parts of our story that we want to share. Because this is a class focused on the sharing of personal content, sometimes deeply intimate, please carefully consider the topics of your submissions and be mindful of the manner in which you give feedback. In other words, write about what you are able to confront intellectually in a writing-focused class, and keep in mind the writing workshop does not provide the resources to help deal with the important work of healing from trauma and current emotionally difficulties. In addition, know that you will be in a protected and respectful environment in which your work will be given respect and serious attention. As peers giving constructive criticism, we will also demonstrate a willingness in good faith to engage with the story and provide helpful feedback, while listening to one another’s thoughts with care. Excerpts from Jean-Dominique Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son, and work by poets Eve L. Ewing, Danez Smith, and Jennifer Givhan.