Poetry for Everyone!

I’ve been asked to teach a new poetry course at Westport Writers Workshop this summer, and I’m very excited about it. It’s grown since the last time I taught there four years ago. There are new spaces, new instructors and many new workshop options for writers at all levels.

I just finished up taking “The Journey of Writing for Women” with Valerie Ann Leff, and it was amazing. I think I finally have an organizing principle for my memoir thanks to Val’s approach, and I can’t wait to try out some of her prompts and approaches in my own workshop, which will run Friday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 21, 28, July 12, 19, 26 and August 2. Contact westportwriters.org for more information.

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2 thoughts on “Poetry for Everyone!

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  1. First off I would like to say great blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to
    ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself
    and clear your head before writing. I have had a difficult time clearing my mind
    in getting my ideas out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost just trying
    to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?
    Thank you! http://bpedk.com.ua/user/coffeearmy62/


    1. Thanks so much for your great question! I think what you’re experiencing is what every writer experiences. You could think of it like taking a morning jog: you would stretch first and the first few meters would be a bit uneven. It would take a few blocks until you hit your stride, right? I’ve also heard writers describe the first 10 or so minutes of writing as “clearing dust” from your brain. When I teach undergraduates and they write essays I always tell them that they are likely to find that the introductions they write for their first drafts aren’t needed in the final draft, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t valuable – they had to write those to get to the next thought that is needed.

      Have you tried timed freewriting? This is almost the equivalent of sprint training. (Can you tell I used to be a – very slow – runner?) You give yourself a very short amount of time, 6-10 minutes at first, and then write whatever comes to mind, or you can select a prompt, as there are many online. When the timer dings, if you want to keep writing you can, but if your are tired you can stop. Your writing won’t be polished, but it will likely reveal innovative thought, imagery, and so on. Lots of writers use this technique. The best book to start with as a guide is Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones.”

      Hope that helps!


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