2016 Workshop Description

Writing for the Self. Writing for the World.

Instructor: Jessica Piazza

Creating a writing practice for ourselves can be amazing …empathetic, cathartic, therapeutic and intellectually stimulating all at once. In that sense, writing is truly a gift we give to ourselves, regardless of who reads our work or not; it's meaningful just to write. So what about sharing our writing by publishing? I believe that's also a gift. The difference, though, is that sharing our poetry is a gift we give not to ourselves, but to others. I get it; that might sound trite. But there's a fundamental truth in that idea around which we will build our workshop, and it's this: we would not give someone a gift just because it's something we might enjoy. True gift giving also requires that we consider what the receiver enjoys and needs. In gift giving and in publishing poetry, knowing what we appreciate ourselves is a great springboard for ideas, but to present something to the world means shaping it so—for the recipients and readers—the poem is most appreciated, kind, powerful and able to spark insights.

In this workshop we will focus on two things. The first is the experience of writing with intention. What do we want to express? What do we want to personally achieve with each piece we put on paper? Generative exercises and writing prompts will help us explore those questions. The second is gaining the skills to revise with intention so as to present work that is meaningful to others. What do we want to communicate with each piece: what images, ideas, feelings or insights? Discussing our pieces in workshop will help us figure that out, and we will use all the tools of craft we have at our disposal—the image, the line break, narrative, characterization, form, meter, sound play, visual play, and more—to figure out how to meet each poem's goal together. By reading and writing together over a period of several days, we will learn more about the work we love, why we love it, and how we can move ever closer to creating poetry that inspires both ourselves and others.