Returning to Where I Started
One of the exciting things that’s happening for me this year is the opportunity to return to a place that I’ve loved since I was a young girl: Interlochen Center for the Arts.
There, the distant sounds of someone playing piano in a studio in the woods, trigger full body memories of my experience as a young camper, studying theater, piano and dance, in the 1980’s, and later, as an academy student, majoring in creative writing.
Before all that, my parents took my siblings and me to see Chinese acrobats and dance performances, orchestra concerts and theater productions, until I finally declared, after seeing Coppelia at Christmastime when I was 15, that I really wanted to find a way to go to school at the Academy.
Once accepted, I spent my final year of high school immersed in the poetry of Jim Harrison, Mark Strand, Mary Oliver, Gary Snyder and Galway Kinnell, among other tutelary spirits. It’s where my serious training began, and in some ways, it’s where I began: the me that eventually found her way to something that makes sense and feels right. My calling.
It’s where I clearly, and powerfully, came to understand that I am an artist, and that’s the tribe I belong to.
Although I’ve returned to campus at different times over the years—as a guest artist or participant in symposiums, even performances—this time I’ll return as a member of the creative writing faculty of Interlochen College of Creative Arts, where I’ll join them in providing year-round courses and opportunities for adults to continue their arts education.
If you’ve ever dreamed of taking time away to study your craft among other devoted practitioners; if you think it’d be dreamy to do this among pines, beside a lake, up north; if, like me, you swoon to the sounds of singers warming up on an outdoor stage; if you’ve wondered how much writing you could get done in an environment that’s already nurtured tens of thousands of artists before you, then the 10th annual Writers Retreat in June is a special opportunity for you to consider.
I’d love to share this place, and poetry, with you. Check out the details over here. Other excellent faculty will teach memoir, novel and short story workshops. Perhaps you’ll even decide to bring a writing buddy or colleague. Registration opened earlier this month and I expect all the spaces to fill.
Here’s the description of my poetry session:
Poetry: The Human Pang
Dates: June 15-18, 2015
Faculty Instructor: Holly Wren Spaulding
Interlochen Writers Retreat, Interlochen, Michigan
Through close readings and open discussion, generative prompts and other writing experiments, we’ll explore what moves us, how it does so, why it matters, and how to be more fearless when writing poems. We’ll explore rituals for getting started, strategies for breaking through to new material, and how to navigate the tension between “facts” and “emotional truth” in our work. We’ll consider the characteristic of the personal lyric, as well as its ability to create meaning from subjective experience. We’ll discuss the problem of sentimentality, making sure we don’t end up with bloodless poems, without heart or pulse. In all this, our motto will be: “Poetry atrophies when it strays too far from the human pang,” (Dean Young). In other words, we’ll read and write and think about the ways poetry connects us to our common humanity, often describing ourselves to ourselves, in our most intimate yet universal moments of life. The course will include selected readings from Marie Howe, Gregory Orr, Jack Gilbert, Linda Gregg, Sharon Olds, Louise Glück, Tadeusz Różewicz, and Wisława Szymborska.
You can see the full list of my upcoming workshops and public appearances in the calendar section of my website.