MIXOLOGY: WRITING FROM RESEARCH (WITH A TWIST)

This weekend at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, I taught one of my favorites: Creative Writing from Research. If this sounds like a boring class to you, don't worry, I actually agree with your instincts -- the word research tends to evoke the image of stale library stacks and teachers tapping their hands with rulers. But no more! I think of writing from research as punk-rock, rule-bending, wild times.

Below is a class syllabus and some examples of student work from the weekend.

Erasure Poems from Newspapers

 

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Great work, right?

 

Class Syllabus

MIXOLOGY: WRITING FROM RESEARCH (WITH A TWIST)

Reusing information, Being guided by information, Making information new again

DAY ONE 

Class Schedule

10:00 -- Introductions

10:30 -- Discussion of research gathering techniques, creative writing hybrid forms (poetry/fiction/nonfictions) and stretching the bounds of each genre by using research.

Reading: Examples and discussion

Claudia Rankine, Citizen

Maggie Nelson, Bluets

11:00 -- First exercise: Found Poetry as Research. You will be given a random sheet of text from a library reference book (Origin of Phrases, 1,001 Facts, etc). From that sheet, gather phrases, ideas and inspiration and write a short poem or narrative from the text. Time: 45 min.

11:45 -- Sharing work. Share work from the writing exercise.

12:00 -- Lunch

2:00 -- Second Exercise: Field Research. We will take a short field trip to a nearby location (a museum or historical display) to gather images, text, audio and sensory experimentation.

3:00 -- In Class Writing: After returning from the field trip, you will have 30 minutes to write from your findings.

3:30 -- Sharing work. Share work from the writing exercise.

4:00 -- Dismissal

DAY TWO

Class Schedule

9:00 -- Reading: Erasure. We will look at the technique of erasure, including Mary Ruefle, Austin Kleon, and various other poets.

Austin Kleon:

http://austinkleon.com/2014/04/29/a-brief-history-of-my-newspaper-blackout-poems/

http://austinkleon.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ebook-screenshot.jpg

Mary Ruefle:

http://www.gwarlingo.com/the-debut-of-mary-ruefles-melody-the-story-of-a-child/

From Snow City:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2012/02/from-snow-city/

We will also look at the Erasure Machine from Wave Books and possibly use this tool to make an erasure together as a class. (http://erasures.wavepoetry.com/erasures.php?sourceid=9)

9:30 -- Third exercise: Erasures from Intentional Research. You will now use a local newspaper and make an erasure poem. Second round: You will use a piece of zeroxed text to create a poem or short-short story, using the technique of erasure. Time: 45 min.

10:15 -- Sharing work and Q/A

11:00 -- Lunch

1:00 -- Fourth Exercise: Choice. You choose from one of the first three exercises and create another in-class writing piece. Time: 45 min.

1:45 -- Finalizing Work: We will spend the rest of the class time finalizing the work that we have created.

3:00 -- Dismissal

 



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