Below is a sampling of recent residency workshops offered at the BFAW residencies:
PAST FACULTY RESIDENCY WORKSHOPS
“Whitman, Ginsberg & the Organic Line” with faculty member Walter Butts
This advanced genre poetry workshop will examine the relationship of the poetic line to felt experience, as embodied in the work of Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg. Like Whitman, Ginsberg’s socially engaged poetry, along with other writers of the Beat Generation and the many contemporary poets they’ve influenced, explores eroticism, politics, notions of American democracy, Eastern philosophy, and spirituality. Through colloquial language and devices of metrics, repetition and the use of symbolism, an attempt is made to close the distance between reader and writer. In free verse that encompasses any number of styles, from the Confessional, to classical Japanese poetry, to the surrealism of the twentieth century Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, these writers see the poem as an instrument for change. We’ll read poems by Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Diane di Prima, Anne Waldman and others, with particular attention to line length and breaks, arrangement of lines within stanzas, enjambments, diction, and syntactical structures. Participants will have the opportunity to experiment with their own approaches.
“Ladders to the Moon: Moving Beyond Traditional Expectations in Fiction” with faculty member Laurie Foos
Welcome to the world in which angels fall to earth, men sometimes awaken to find themselves turned into cockroaches, and people take milk from the moon. Such is the world of the non‐traditional writer/artist. In this workshop, we’ll discuss the ways in which writers may choose to depart from the “realistic” world we all recognize and the effect that this departure may have on our writing and on our readers. How do we make the leap? How do our expectations as readers change when we read a piece of non‐traditional work? And just what is reality? How does our definition of reality change, and how do we draw the line between the conscious and the unconscious world? We will explore, through close readings, some examples of literature that depart from reality and will also do some writing exercises intended to spark writing that departs from realism. This workshop will focus on taking risks in your work as well as ways of looking at literature through a wider lens.
“Revision” with faculty member Jocelyn Cullity
We all know how difficult it is to revise our work and the stamina it takes to do that. Moreover, too often we don’t know how to come back to a piece of work and take it to the next level all by ourselves. It can be absolutely daunting. But revision work has to be done; learning the signs of that stage where you must push yourself to revise is the first step to recovery! This workshop will give you strategies to use when you are all alone and need to take a piece of creative writing to its next best version. We’ll brainstorm and then we’ll put into action some things we can do to jumpstart a stalled piece of work, and get it moving again. Please bring to this workshop a piece of writing that you have thrown on the shelf, wrung your hands at, or tried to hurl off a cliff. But also please bring an open mind – and be ready to work hard!
“Using Documentary Practices: in Learning, Literature, and Visual Art” with faculty member Jill Magi
This workshop is about using photos, moving images, and “documentary poetics” (often found text) to make art, investigate a research question, document your learning, and communicate with an audience. We will look at examples of photo stories, short films, slideshows, and documentary poems/prose works. It’s been said that art took a “documentary turn” in the last couple decades–why is this so? Why are documentary forms so compelling and popular? Some theoretical questions on point of view, the ethics, and the politics of the documentary impulse and practice will be discussed. A good workshop for thinking about ways to document your learning in everything from visual art to writing to social science to thoughtful action.
PAST BFAW GROUP STUDIES
“Lo‐fi Publishing and Chapbook Making Group Study: Using a blog to make our work public” with faculty member Jill Magi
In this nine‐week group study, with two sessions happening on campus during residency as workshops, we will look at various ways of publishing in a lo‐fidelity manner, as well as the tradition of writers putting together chapbooks. The main goals of our group study are twofold: for each writer to make a homemade book or chapbook and share that, and to learn to use wordpress to make documentation of our work public. Often, making your own chapbook is a lesson in deep revision, gift‐giving, and literary citizenship. Adding the blog element is good practice for any writer who might also want to be an editor in the future. Our blog/website may also contain an archive of all the lo‐fi products from Goddard BFA students over the past five years.
“BFA Writing Workshop Group Study: Beginning the Process” (Part 1 and 2) with faculty member Walter Butts
In these two sessions we will begin a writers’ workshop that will extend 9 weeks into the semester. In the first session, following introductions, we will discuss responsibilities for participation, ways to respond constructively to the writing of others, and how to respond to and benefit from feedback to one’s own work. Participants will receive handouts to review and comment on for the next session, and will be asked to bring copies of their own creative writing for group discussion. In session two, we will discuss the creative writing and essays in the handouts from the previous meeting, begin presentations and peer critiques of participants’ work, and establish a timeline for the exchange of work during the semester.
“Reheating the Peas: A Walk Through Revision” with faculty member Sara Michas-Martin
This is a workshop for anyone who would like to improve upon his or her abilities to revise. No matter your formal leanings—prose, fiction, poetry, inter-genre—the sole purpose of this workshop is to restart creative engines and talk about innovative suggestions to help guide you where you want to go. We will discuss ways to enter a piece of stalled writing, which a favorite teacher used to call, “reheating the peas” and talk about practical revision strategies. Looking at a variety of examples of published work in draft form, we’ll identify the process writers embark upon to arrive at finished. Students are encouraged to bring their most resistant-to-completion, messy, half-baked poem/story/essay. Be prepared to try a little surgery!
PAST BFAW GRADUATING STUDENT PRESENTATIONS
“How Do Our Relationships To Land And Nation Define Our Identities?” with graduating student Monica Gomery
How do our relationships to land and nation define our identities? How is memory both transmitted and distorted through language and family lore? What can poetry teach us about approaching these questions? Gomery will read from her senior project, a manuscript of poetry exploring family, migration and language. This presentation will involve a group writing exercise, so please bring something to write with and an open mind…
“Slipping Through Our Fingers: The Children’s Book in the Physical Real” with Nicole Christman and Matthew Greene
Mildred Viola’s Melting Brain is a book of fiction for children ages nine and up, written by BFA student Matthew Greene, with illustrations, handmade paper, and hand‐binding by IBA student Nicole Christman. The story follows Mildred “Millie” Viola, the eleven‐year‐old heroine, who, in an effort to find her mysteriously disappeared father, discovers the world of high technology in her encounters with various digital devices. In this presentation, the artists will discuss their individual and collaborative creative processes‐‐including writing, illustrating, papermaking, and bookmaking‐‐and offer fellow workshoppers a chance to interact with the one‐of‐a‐kind art book.
“Screenplay, Myth, and Magic: Where Movies Come From” with Marieloisa Márquez Dowling
In this presentation we will discuss the substance, structure, and origin of screenplay as a modern storytelling tradition. We will explore what makes for emotionally resonant films and why their stories all seem so familiar. We will watch a dramatic reading of a scene from the presenter’s screenplay, Mackerel Skies, and we will talk about how you can go home and write your own.