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.
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 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.
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.
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.