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Summer Strange Series: Writing Outside the Rut

Do the same images or people pop up in your poems again and again? When you start to write a poem, do you know how it’s going to end? Do your besties ask you, “Is this poem about [insert name of ex here]?” If the answer’s “yes,” you may be in a writing rut.

Most of us are in some kind of rut, because a rut is the brain’s strategy for avoiding failure and expediting processes. As the creative brain is the same brain that goes to work and the grocery store and brushes our teeth, etc., it’s always looking for ways to accomplish tasks more efficiently. It does so by skipping over details we already know. If we had to re-learn how to brush our teeth every time we did it, we’d never make it out of the house.

A writing rut is our brain’s way of saying, “I know a short cut to the end of this poem, so I don’t have to sit here in front of my computer and feel/think new things, which are scary and might make me look stupid.” So we often unconsciously begin the writing process in a familiar head space, writing in the same way, using the same diction, images or form.

These four sessions will help us consciously connect to our unconscious minds while adding new strategies to our poetry tool chests. We'll approach the subject visually, sonically, through the image, and the speaker’s voice. Ideally by the end of the series, the practice of writing should feel less like practice and more about surprising yourself with what is already in your head.

Each week, we’ll read, discuss and write poems based on innovative work by contemporary poets. Students will post the poems they’ve written based on the prompts in the online forum for feedback from other students and myself.

* Meet in Zoom meeting for four one-hour sessions. These will be viewable on video anytime, so if you can’t make some sessions, you can still take the class and fully participate.
* Read (prior to class) and discuss (in class) the work of contemporary poets (one poem per week).
* Write on different prompts during our sessions to get us loosened up
* Write four poems, one per week, based on prompts and post them in an online forum.
* Read and comment on the poems of other students outside class (est. time = 1/2 hour per week) in the online forum.

The class will be held online via Zoom Meeting, and the class video will be available online. We’ll post our poems and comment on others’ poems in an online forum. You'll need a desktop computer, smart phone or tablet, with a camera if you want to be seen and a mic if you want to be heard. We’ll be able to see each other all at once on a grid, as well as see the websites and your work on the screen.

Summer Strange Series: Writing Outside the Rut

15 spots, all levels
There will be four live classes that you can watch via video anytime. So if you can’t make a session, you can watch it at your leisure and still participate.

Live Class Time: Mondays, 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. central time
Live Class Dates:
Monday, June 24
Monday, July 1
Monday, July 8
Monday, July 15

$10 from every sign-up will go to the Midwest Writing Center, which facilitates the work of writers of all ages and teachers through conferences, workshops, contests, readings, and discussions. MWC Members receive $10 off the sign up fee with code at checkout. Email MWC for the code.

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Earlier Event: March 2
Publishing Your Poems