Category: Community

Posts by Jano Klimas about community, collaboration, charity and social welfare.

From stage to studio – one poet’s journey

Spoken word poetry slams can be exhausting. Although the live feedback from interested audience re-charges most poets’ batteries, sometimes it’s good to just take time off and go back to the studio; more precisely, the Writers’ Studio (TWS). Don’t be confused. This isn’t a special recording studio for writers, but a year-long, part-time postgraduate certificate in creative writing at the Simon Fraser University, Department of Continuing Education
I “went” to the studio to learn how to write longer poems and how to edit poetry. 
The studio offered to:
  • Get hands-on creative writing training
  • Study under published authors
  • Make creative writing part of your life
  • Be part of a community of writers
As with every profession, there are many communities and sub-communities of writers. The studio made me part of a very special community of people who were published authors or who wanted to be published, but very few spoken word poets.
There were two main parts to the studio. First were the didactic lectures. Published authors lectured on theory and practice of writing. Second were the fortnightly workshop meetings. Each genre group met separately, about 8 students per group. As poets, we submitted our poems to everyone in the group one week before the meeting and read poems from classmates.
Workshop
The group feedback was the main vehicle of the workshop. When we got the poems from our classmates, we’ve read them, prepared a one-paragraph summary of our impressions on each poem and brought printed copy of each to the workshop night. At the meeting, a poet read their piece followed by oral feedback summary from two classmates. In this way, the structure of the workshop was similar to the writers’ taskforce group at UCLA. Later, we’ve abandoned the 2-reviewer model and let everyone say one good thing and one bad thing about the poem. All received written reviews from classmates and mentor.
Saturdays
Saturdays were killing me. Having a full-time job and a kid to raise, I’ve realized the high toll that weekend courses put on families. Because the whole cohort came to the Saturday classes, connecting with the rest of the class was very nice and well-earned gain of taking the time away from my family.
Readings
Mondays were for readings; in-class preparation for the real world readings in the Cottage bistro where the TWS community gathered. Tutors modeled reading style and gave pearls of wisdom to students.
Lessons learnt
Halfway there, I found that the Studio helped me to “see” into my poems more. However, the most useful learning came from realizing what I didn’t want to do:
I don’t want to write alone only.
I want to write with others regularly.
I don’t want to chase poetry publications.
I want to speak poetry out loud.
I’m not a page poet.
I’m a stage poet.
I don’t want to write concrete poetry.
I want my poems image full.
I don’t want to analyse poems too much.
I want to share instant thoughts on poems.
I don’t like long, elaborate prompts.
I like short, spontaneous prompts.
Watch this place for my views on the 2nd semester in the Writers’ Studio.

Discovering Thursdays Writing Collective

Thursdays
When I first arrived in Vancouver, Canada, I was desperate to join a writing collective. My experience with the Dublin’s Writers Forum and the Oregon’s Write Around Portland taught me the power of writing groups. I observed that collective writing fosters motivation and provides a way out of the isolation that this solitary activity can otherwise induce, making writing communal. It shows that though we’re able to write alone, we don’t have to. We can write together, too, and this changes the stereotype—and daunting nature—of being a solitary writer!
 
 
photocredit: thursdayswritingcollective.ca
 

Time to write simply

How junior researchers can write effectively and simply? Use simple style in all your writing, whether it’s an email, an invitation or a reference letter.

 

photocredit: universityaffairs.ca

I am so tired of reading badly written science. I barely finish reading articles that runs over one page. None of my friends read (my) articles. The feeling of failure spreads in me like cancer. Firstly, I’m worried that we have failed everyday people who need our answers the most. Secondly, I fear that I, my colleagues and my mentors have failed future scientists by passing our bad writing habits on to them. How junior researchers can write effectively and simply?

Read my latest article in the Career Advice section of the University Affairs magazine website:

http://www.universityaffairs.ca/career-advice/career-advice-article/

 

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Making scientific writing something that sticks to the brain

Have you ever wondered about what makes science articles memorable? How come that some writers are remembered while others forgotten?
photocredit: sciencewriters.ca

One might say that the aim of academic papers is generally not to make the best argument and have the most interesting ideas, but rather to demonstrate that something is both statistically significant and those findings were derived from a sound methodology which others can duplicate and arrive at the same result. If the statistics and the methodology are no good, it doesn’t matter how evocative the descriptions are, does it? So it seems that the most basic science communications question is how to integrate the two very different ways of conveying “the truth,” in a way that both are understood and remembered. Remembered facts turn into knowledge that can be used to change the world – the ultimate goal of science.  Read the full article in the members’ blogs section of the CSWA website:  https://sciencewriters.ca/page-966358/4072583

 

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Changing the ways of CPDD – College on Problems of Drug Dependence – June 12-16, #CPDD2016

Change is the ultimate law of life. Those that do not change and adapt, do not survive. In the life of scientific meetings, this means constantly improving the organisation of the events and tailoring them to the changing needs of the conference delegates. This year, the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) introduced several improvements and more are on the way in next years.

cpdd logo

photocredit: cpdd.org

 

Bye Bye Tote Bags

Many of us were used to the traditional design of the CPDD tote bags. Each year had a different colour. For years when conference visited a warm region, such as Phoenix, AR, the tote bag included a special layer for keeping the contents cool. The non-bag policy brought the desired recognition of sustainability and (un-)expected diversity among the conference bags – everyone was different.

Bye Bye Printed Programs

For years, the conference book was a comprehensive bible for the conference week. Everybody read it and most followed it. Although the College printed a limited number of copies, this year, the e-programs drained participants smartphones’ batteries. What more, they offered note-taking and photograph uploading that many appreciated. Welcome to the digital age.

Hello Mentors

Since the early days, the senior delegates offered mentorship to junior delegates. Mostly informal. Following the new trends adopted at other conferences, such as AHSR or NAPCRG, the CPDD sent out emails to all Members in Training (MIT), offering to match them with a potential mentor (mentor bios included). If both parties agreed, the match-maker introduced them via email. I have learned a lot from my mentor. Especially that the decision makers may not read addiction journals, also that the team identity strengthens sense of ownership among team members and that the road to the research success can be long and winding. Let’s hope that the beneficial mentoring program continues in future.

Hello Shorter Conference

With the increasing demands on scientists’ workloads, there is a chance that the upcoming conferences will be shorter.

See also my previous blog posts about CPDD from the previous years:

2015Getting the most out of the Conference of the College on Problems of Drugs Dependence #CPDD2015

2014: 76th Annual Conference of College on Problems of Drug Dependence: Decide to be fearless& fabulous 

2013: My itinerary for the Conference – College on Problems of Drug Dependence, San Diego, June 15-20