I’m not there

You might have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the teaching I was due to start this week in France.  That’s because it isn’t happening (waah!) – through no fault, I might add, of the organisers.  We’re going to try again next year.

I’d been reading a lot about creative writing workshops in the run-up to this month, and thinking about how to approach them. Although I have a lot of teaching experience, working with adults – and working as a fellow-writer with the participants – requires a very different stance.  In any case, as an “emerging writer” (I feel I have been emerging for a very long time now, but it’s true, I am still emerging…), it would be ridiculous to position myself as some sort of  “expert”.  

 Jason Schneiderman writes really interestingly on this topic  in the March/April  issue of American Poetry Review.  He values teaching for the way it can help him with his own writing processes:

…teaching requires me to make explicit the process of revision and evaluation…It keeps me honest.  p.42 *

And he has a clear idea about what he does not want to do:

It’s tempting to become the oracle.  To pronounce in paradox and breathe judgment like fire; but this is not how students learn, and while it might win me a handful of disciples, I would lose what I need.  ibid.

Later, he sets out his own  “pedagogical manifesto” – but you should read that yourself.  In APR – it’s such a good journal.

* Jason Schneiderman,  “The Phenomenological Workshop: Notes Toward a Theory of the Workshop”, The American Poetry Review, Mar/Apr 2010, 39:2, pp.41-47


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