Sunday, January 29, 2006


The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown has finally posted their workshop schedule & descriptions for this summer. Go check it out. There are some amazing workshops coming up.

I have already, as I've mentioned, signed up for D.A. Powell's workshop on "Writing the Body." Here's the description:
Writing poetry is a physical act, located within the lungs, skin, heart and eyes of the poet. Words, when they’re working best, transmit the breath, rhythm and sensory experience of being in the world. In this workshop, we’ll explore the physicality of writing the poem, paying particular attention to issues of the body. How do wellness and disease change the patterns of a poem? How does language give shape to erotic desire? What are the parallels between giving birth and creating the poem? These are but a few of the questions that will guide us through the physical labor of writing. Participants should bring 11 copies of 3 draft poems, as well as their writing notebooks.
Now doesn't that sound entertaining? If I had unlimited time and money (or at least a little less limited), I would also take Thomas Sayers Ellis' "A Risk In Every Room":
A workshop for students interested in writing off-subject, forcing visual and sound connections, and creating surprising narrative and non-narrative progression(s) all within free and fixed stanza forms in their work.
Or possibly Major Jackson's "Doorways":
Entrances into and exits out of works of art are as varied as they are essential. Every artist must tackle the questions "Where do I begin?" and "How shall I end?" In this workshop, we will examine poems (and possibly other art forms) by celebrated as well as emergent American poets to discover how poems find their way into and out of their lyric and narrative worlds. Our observations will focus on strategies and how such openings & closings, arrivals & departures establish tone, movement, and emotional engagement. We will spend a good portion of our time critiquing each other’s poems with our eyes peeled close to our own entryways. Students should come to class with eleven copies of three poems-in-progress.
Here's Martha Rhodes on "Revising and Generating New Work":
In this workshop, we'll examine the choices you’ve made for your poems in terms of imagery, vocabulary, line breaks, and overall structure. We’ll note how these choices, these CRAFT decisions, impact your work and how you can move forward with your poems and also generate new work from the poems you've brought in to discuss. To help us with the discussion of your own poems, we'll look at other poets' work at the beginning of each session to see how their choices brought about layered, multi-dimensional poems of psychological complication. Handouts will be provided, along with several optional overnight "assignments," and, if time permits, opportunity for in-class writing. This is a good workshop for those who really want to work on revision, and generate new work during the week.
And finally, Tom Sleigh's two-day weekend workshop, which is just setting off all kinds of sparks in my head -- if I could possibly swing an August weekend in addition to my week in June I would so sign up for this one:
What is and isn't your material? What kind of poem will you allow yourself to write and what kinds of language does that give you access to? Frost’s notion that a poem is a kind of chain reaction—you start with an emotion, the emotion finds a thought, and the thought finds a word—is one way of thinking about it, but we’ll also talk about less linear ways of organizing that may help you push the limits of your material and your language. This is a workshop for poets who want to go beyond the boundaries of what they can already do. Please bring two of your own poems for us to discuss, though we can also talk about some of the new work you produce during the weekend.
"What is and isn't your material? What kind of poem will you allow yourself to write and what kinds of language does that give you access to?" Oh man ... these are exactly questions I need to be asking of myself and my work right now. Actually, just reading that workshop description may set off some fruitful work for me. I'm going to spend some time thinking about this one.

If you are at all considering a summer workshop this year, I wholeheartedly recommend FAWC. Anyone who was reading my blog last summer knows what an amazing time I had there in June/July. The only drawback is that it is not cheap ... but the folks at FAWC really know how to throw a party. I mean, a workshop. :) I can almost taste the salty harbor fog now...

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In other news, the deadline for the Indiana Arts Commission's Individual Artist Grant applications is fast approaching. Because it's a "must be on our desk" deadline rather than a postmark deadline, I would have to have my application in the mail tomorrow. At this point, I think it is just not happening. Thanks to having been so debilitated by my recent bout with the Martian Death Flu (I'm still coughing a bit), I just couldn't gather enough energy to get to it.

And yes, maybe I am using the Martian Death Flu as an excuse for my own laziness, or fear of failure, or fear of success, or whatever. But as I think about it, I'm not entirely sure the online mentorship thing is exactly what I need right now. I feel like I know what I need to do in order to improve my writing; I'm staring down what I am relatively sure is the right path, even though I'm not quite on it. I just need to muster the discipline and tenacity I'll need to get from here to there, and that's not going to come from any mentor, or workshop, or MFA program -- it can only come from within myself. The upshot is that I just have to decide (every day, for the rest of my life) whether I want it badly enough to do what I have to do to get there. Like a tennis player who's up a set, down a break, and beginning to cramp, the question I have to face now is how much does it matter to me, really.

And I think the answer is that it matters quite a lot, though I couldn't tell you why. But I can say that and say that and say that, and if I don't sit down at my desk and face the blank or half-ass-drafted page, it doesn't matter what I say, now does it?

So if you'll excuse me, I have a pen to pick up.


the machinist said...


If you can manage to get into Tom's class, do it. I had him my first semester at NYU. He's an amazing, amazing teacher. He's also a very fun guy.

But if you ever get the chance to be in one of his classes, you won't regret it. He's one of the best teachers I've ever had.

Preston said...

Hello Anne -

There are a lot of excellent choices there. Major is a remarkable person, and Martha is an incredible teacher (she was an old teacher of mine, so take note of possible bias). I very much recommend taking Martha's class if you can, or at least swinging by and saying hello to her.