Monday, June 8, 2009

Interesting article

An interesting article by Louis Menand about teaching creative writing - whether it is possible, what workshops accomplish (or don't), the ramifications of an "anti-system" like writing being part of a system like the university, etc. It's a pretty interesting read, although it focuses much more on fiction than on poetry, and I agree completely with his assessment of the value of CW workshops at the end of the article:

"Did I engage in self-observation and other acts of modernist reflexivity? Not much. Was I concerned about belonging to an outside contained on the inside? I don’t think it ever occurred to me. I just thought that this stuff mattered more than anything else, and being around other people who felt the same way, in a setting where all we were required to do was to talk about each other’s poems, seemed like a great place to be. I don’t think the workshops taught me too much about craft, but they did teach me about the importance of making things, not just reading things. You care about things that you make, and that makes it easier to care about things that other people make.

And if students, however inexperienced and ignorant they may be, care about the same things, they do learn from each other."

Those are my italics, but that is very much how I remember my undergraduate workshops.

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