On the Other Side of a Writers’ Workshop

It’s been ages since I’ve taken a writers’ workshop, although I’ve taught quite a few of them in the past eight years. If I don’t count my college classes, I haven’t taken a writing class “for fun” since I was 16 and went to a writing camp. Why so few? I think it’s a combination of a) my arrogance–can’t I do just as well writing on my own?; b) my thriftiness; writing is free, writing workshops/conferences often cost money; and c) my possessiveness over my own time. If I’m going to set time aside for writing–which I certainly must if I consider myself a writer–I want it to be on what I want to write.

But today, I had the good fortune of helping facilitate a workshop given by poet John Minczeski at the library where I work. Facilitating means I helped him hook up the projector to his computer, found extension cords, hauled a chalkboard out of the storage room, and told him where the bathroom was. In return? I got to sit down and actually participate in a writing workshop again. It was wonderful.

I wrote two poems; the first one is posted below.

Contained (Garden Poem #3)

I am
the roots pulled up from the garden
dirt clinging to my thighs,
my fingertips.

What now? Plant me again,
perhaps,
in the orange pot by the window,
where glass separates me from the sun
that once kissed my open leaves.
Sometimes, my colors shone so bright
you couldn't bear to look.

The empty spot in the garden
sometimes furrows your brow with sadness--
with regret.
And yet

you do like keeping me
right there on your kitchen counter
or the table beside your bed.
And if you get tired of me one day,
you can pull me up again
and eat me for breakfast.

My second poem is still a bit too scattered for sharing, and maybe too personal. John seemed to like that one better. I was really afraid he would call on me to read, in which case I would have had to say something about professional boundaries (there were four teens I work with regularly at the workshop). But luckily, he did not call on me to read, and I’ve got another poem to mess around with.

(Oh, and if you happen to be in a library system that is visited by John, I definitely recommend the workshop. He’s very personable, and an engaging teacher. It was as if I got to go back to college for two hours of my day. :))

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2 Responses to On the Other Side of a Writers’ Workshop

  1. spoonbridge says:

    While I’m not so much a poet, I took a writer’s workshop at the Hennepin County Library a couple years ago that really inspired me. I think its great that libraries offer things like this. What started as common writing exercises really sparked several projects that became essays for the Save the Crumbs ‘zine and other ideas. Currently, I’m still a bit burned out from writing (and rewriting) my masters thesis, so I will definitely keep an eye out for another workshop- when you don’t really know what you want to write, a little nudging can go a long way I think. And I agree, it does bring back a bit of a collegial feeling! There is a Novel-Writing Conference at the Loft this November that looks interesting, have you heard about it?

    Nice poem, by the way. Very summery!

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