17 November 2008

(Make It) New Tricks

Over the weekend I went to the Winter Wheat Literary Festival, where I had the great pleasure of reading with Anna Leahy. It was so nice seeing Karen, and many other folks. I also attended some sessions. It's been a while since I've done that. I'm such a book fair slug that usually I spend the whole time "exhibiting" and drinking coffee and doing nothing else.

I am so glad that I wasn't a slug this time. I went to M.J. Iuppa's panel on persona and was completely transported. I was a student again. I did the writing exercises, and liked what I wrote enough to read them out loud. I took notes. I learned new ways to articulate things that I've thought about, but never discussed with anyone.

In short, it was a transformative experience. I realized why people need continuing education. It wasn't like a refresher course on power point. The whole time I was thinking of how I'd use the ideas in my own teaching. I still feel invigorated. I want to do it again. It's so different from passively listening to a panel at AWP.

What do you think of "continuing education"? Should this be a greater part of the writing world? Where else can we continue to learn in this way? What would you like to talk about, or learn about? Can you ever stop needing new ideas?

7 comments:

Karen J. Weyant said...

It was great to see you too, Mary. I really liked M.J. Luppa's panel --- I love learning new things and trying new ideas and not having to be the "teacher" all the time. I also liked the intimacy of the Winter Wheat setting. Yay for continuing education!

Penultimatina said...

Karen, it was so awesome! I'd take that over a trip to the spa any day.

So nice to see you! I hope your drive back wasn't too snowy.

Collin Kelley said...

I think every poet...and I do mean every...should take a workshop at least once a year.

cornshake said...

i LOOOOOVE winter wheat and was so sad to miss it this year. every yr that i went i ALWAYS took classes, even if my students who also signed up thought it was weird to be in class with me...i always had fresh ideas for teaching and writing and come home with at least 2-3 drafts of new work. you're right--winter wheat is like a spa for writers! ;)

Carol Mac said...

I just can't get enough panels at conferences. I am the the curious one, taking notes, asking questions. It is always wonderful to hear what's new and what else is going on in the poetry/academic/composition world.

P. J. said...

I have to respond because the word verification is: SAINTROW. Even your blog word i.d.s have saints in them!

My best continuing education experience, of a sort, was when you just told me to write a poem for Court Green, and I did. Inspiration workshops are what I need, but I really wanted to go to Eric's seminar on research in fiction. Too bad I'm such a lazy slug or I'd've been there on time.

By the way...excellent reading. Seriously, the best I've been too. I left feeling really good; your poems are terrific and I can't wait for your next book.

Lyle Daggett said...

Through the 40 years I've been writing poems, I've gone to writers' conferences and taken writing classes now and then. I'm pretty selective at this point, and I don't do it extremely often, but I make an effort to keep an open mind.

I like teachers who will help me shake up my long-held assumptions, whether or not they change my mind. I like to put myself in situations that force me to feel things strongly.

I absolutely believe that learning never stops (if you remain even minimally open to it), and, really, teaching never stops either.

I don't teach for a living, or work in the academic world in any capacity. But my feeling is that if you share knowledge and experience with someone else, under whatever circumstances, then you're teaching, and (likely in some sense) learning.

Word verification is "exhhog." Not quite sure how to take that, but life's an adventure, so...