#ArtLitPhx: Spoken Word Poetry Workshop and Slam

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Spoken Word Poetry Workshop and Slam takes place on Saturday, November 5 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Aravaipa Auditorium, ASU Polytechnic Campus.7211 Innovation Way, Mesa. The workshop features Tomas Stanton.

Stanton is a poet, educator, teaching artist, hip hop thespian and community organizer. He is co-founder of Phoenix-based Phonetic Spit, which uses the literary arts, youth development, and social justice programs “to empower young and emerging adults to find, develop, and publicly present their voices as agents of societal change.”

The event is organized by Wendy R. Williams, assistant professor of English education in ASU’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.  The event is free and open to the public. Make sure to RVSP here.

Guest Post, Grant Clauser: The Curse of the Workshop

The Curse of the Workshop: Fighting the Inner Critic

 

If I count my first undergraduate creative writing workshops and go all the way to the present, where I run a monthly workshop group with friends, I’ve been poking and prodding at peers’ poetry for nearly 30 years.  Some of that has been as an equal participant, and others as a teacher guiding newer poets in this or that direction. All that time sitting around a table trying to offer constructive observations has to do something to a person.

In fact, I know exactly what it’s done. It’s made it increasingly hard to read poetry, any poetry, without trying to fix it. I’m not sure, but I believe often that’s a problem, and it’s probably negatively affected my appreciation of poetry.  I call it the curse of the workshop. I’ve heard another writer refer to this problem as something like the curse of knowing too much, and I have experience with this in my other line of work.

For the past 18 years my day job has been to write about electronics, and much of that writing is in the form of product reviews. Reviewing televisions had been a specialty of mine for several years, and I’d nitpick over details of the TV’s performance. I spent hours analyzing video test patterns, tweaking settings, looking for errant pixels. Once a fellow TV reviewer confided that he was no longer able to watch TV without watching what the TV was doing. This TV crushes whites. This TV’s processor adds too much edge enhancement. This TV blurs lateral motion.

Old Car RadioAudiophiles, and I know many of those eccentrics, who train themselves to appreciate the fine details produced by high-end speakers and $10,000 turntables, can’t enjoy a song on a car radio because they can’t separate the act of passively enjoying something from actively analyzing it.

I fear the same problem can creep into poetry readers who have spent years practicing their workshop strategies. In a workshop, the goal, generally, is to help other people turn their poems into the best poems they can—sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. There’s a built-in attitude that once a fresh poem has been passed around the table, it’s the participant’s job to try to fix it. We immediately launch into judgement mode, picking out distracting lines, unclear images, limp stanza breaks.

Of course, that’s what we’re supposed to do—it’s what all the people sitting around the table are there for, but it can also be counter-productive to enjoying the poem. In a workshop with friends recently, we were discussing a poem, and everyone, including myself, zero’d in on a couple of passages that stood out from the rest—the diction seemed a little incongruous to the subject, and so we did what seasoned workshoppers do, we started changing it. What we didn’t do was stop to appreciate what the writer was doing. After a few readings I allowed myself to release my grip on the workshop model, and instead read the poem for the poem.

And there’s the problem with workshop mode, with audiophile mode, with the curse of the expert mode—we read the poem through our current lens, bordered by our own definitions and rules,  rather than read the poem on its own merits for the pleasure it produces.

A few weeks ago I was watching the Westminster Dog Show (or something similar—I really don’t remember) as each dog was pranced around the course. Judges, poked, stretched and measured the animals, comparing them to their memorized list of perfect attributes for that breed. These were beautiful dogs, well-groomed, well-trained, pampered, worth thousands of dollars, and yet never did anyone just reach out and hug the dogs. I wanted someone to love the droopy ears, the frantic wag, the smell of having just rolled in the yard. But the judges, the owners, the audience had drilled that appreciation out of themselves by knowing too much.

As a reader of poetry, I try to let myself become the dog lover, not the contest judge. I want to be the person driving around with the sunroof open and the radio blasting, not the audio critic taking notes. It’s this way that we get past the work and back into the poetry and remember what brought us to this wonder in the first place.

Superstition Review participates in Combs High School Writing Workshop

San Tan Valley is one of the newer cities in Arizona, but what it lacks in population it makes up for in education and culture. One of the more striking aspects of this burgeoning area is the Combs High School Creative Writing curriculum. While most seniors in high school focus on securing the earliest release possible, the students in Mrs. Burnquist’s Creative Writing class have taken this course to pursue an education in reading and writing literature.
Workshopping at Combs

Although much of their time in class is spent discussing stories from established writers and in workshop, these seniors have also been actively engaged in developing the next issue of their own online literary magazine, IMPRINT. As if they hadn’t already impressed us enough! The magazine was started last year by the inaugural Creative Writing class as a way to encourage literature and to provide an outlet for students to “leave their mark”—the slogan of the first issue. The 4th issue of IMPRINT was launched on Monday, February 4th with an Adventure theme and can be viewed online here.

Superstition Review first took an interest in this group after visiting Mrs. Burnquist’s class in the fall to discuss the publication process of our own lit mag. This semester a group of s[r] interns returned to Combs High to participate in small workshop groups—one lit mag to another. We discussed everything from character development to college applications, and had a great time doing it.

About their magazine, one of Mrs. Burnquist’s students, Kat Johnson, stated, “I am interested in the production of our own literary magazine because it allows me to leave my own ‘imprint’ in Combs history. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.” As it should, Kat. And to the rest of the Combs High students who have participated in this impressive endeavor, the pen doesn’t stop here. We look forward to seeing great things from all of you.

Combs High School Writing Workshop

SR Pod/Vod Series: Poet Deborah Bogen

Each Tuesday we feature audio or video of an SR Contributor reading their work. Today we’re proud to feature a podcast by Deborah Bogen.

Deborah Bogen is the author of three prize-winning works: Living by the Children’s Cemetery (2000 Byline Press), Landscape With Silos (2006 Texas Review Press) and the forthcoming Let Me Open You a Swan (April 2010, Elixir Press). Her poetry and reviews appear widely in journals like Crazyhorse, The Iowa Review, New Letters, The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, The Gettysburg Review and others. For the past 10 years she’s conducted free writing workshops in her Pittsburgh living room.

You can read along with her poems in Issue 4 of Superstition Review.

To subscribe to our iTunes U channel, go to http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/superstition-review-online/id552593273

AFFINITY: An LGBTQ Writer’s Workshop for the Greater Phoenix Community

AFFINITY: An LGBTQ Writer’s Workshop for the Greater Phoenix Community

When: Every Sunday in April, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Where: ASU Tempe Campus Memorial Union (café near Starbucks) 

Who: LGBTQIA identified writers of Arizona

Hosted by: Avery Radclyffe (Cat) Klotsche

Affinity is a four week writer’s workshop that intends to document and share the experience of LGBTQIA writers. All readings and writing prompts will be specific to personal LGBTQIA issues and experiences.

Weeks One and Three (April 8th &April 22nd)

  • A 45 minute long group discussion on selections of literature by LGBTQIA writers (chosen and provided by the facilitator).
  • Writing prompts for poems or creative non-fiction based on writer’s experience as an LGBTQIA identified person.  We will have time to share our drafts and initial creative feedback.

Weeks Two & Four (April 15th & April 29th)

  • Sharing of revised drafts, further discussion of creative feedback for final drafts.

Friday, May 4th

  • Participants from both workshop sequences will showcase their final work at the First Friday reading in Heritage Square.

What to Bring: something to write with (pen, paper, laptop, etc.), creative enthusiasm, and their LGBTQIA wit and colorful nature! There is no cost to attend, and previous workshop or publishing experience is not required.

About the Facilitator: Avery (Cat) Radclyffe Klotsche is a transgendered writer who has resided in Arizona for ten years.  His recent publications include Merge Magazine and TransAnthology, but he was once a member of the Mesa National Slam team.  Over the years, he’s facilitated many writing workshops for high risk individuals including LGBTQIA youth.  While Affinity is the product of Klotsche’s personal interests, it’s also part of his capstone project for his Bachelor’s Degree in English (Creative Writing) and Certificate in LGBT Studies at Arizona State University.

RSVP: If you’re interested in participating, you must RSVP via email to avery.radclyffe@gmail.com.  In the email, please include a brief bio.

Writing Workshops with Mary Sojourner

Pima Community College West Campus is hosting a wide array of weekend writing workshops ranging from Memoir Crafting to Poetry Workshops. Led by authors and professional writers, these workshops offer an opportunity to get hands-on experience and explore a variety of creative writing topics.

On April 13-15, Mary Sojourner, Issue 3 contributor, will lead the in-depth writing workshop, w(Rite): A Workshop in Deep Writing and Craft. The workshop will feature exercises and activities that help writers craft and “move personal writing into publishable work.”

Mary Sojourner is the author of novels Sisters of the Dream and Going Through Ghosts, and short story collection, Delicate. Sojourner is also known for her essay collection Bonelight: ruin and grace in the New Southwest and memoirs, Solace: rituals of loss and desire and She Bets Her Life. She has appeared as a commentator on NPR and teaches writing at colleges, universities, writing conferences, and privately. You can read her blog at marysojourner.com, or the November SR interview with Sojourner here.

If you’re looking to hone your craft or gather tools to eliminate your writer’s block, check out Writing Workshop Spring 2012 at Pima Community College.