In this online class we will begin with a group discussion on what the word “place” and “placemaking” means, as well as its complexity in a global society prone to frequent moving and dislocation. Then, we will cover some group norms and set the tone for the day, as well as cover any specific needs people may have for the day. Participants will then be invited to their first place-based writing exercise and encouraged to find a quiet place to “clear their throat” so to speak. Often times, this “throat-clearing” is not our “finest writing,” but it is essential to getting to a deeper core of what we may be trying to express.
After this first exercise, we will come together as a group and discuss what worked, what was difficult, and any “ah-ha” moments folks may have had.
We will then discuss the craft of poetry, specifically how imagery and figurative language establish the mood of a piece. We will read a poem or two by Sherwin Bitsui, or perhaps Ada Limón, and share what speaks to us in each piece, then dive into specific places that have brought our life meaning, with prompts to explore what those meanings are. How do we communicate that meaning via poetry and in a way that “translates” to other readers who may not know the place?
I always aim for participants to leave with more questions than answers, and a revived hunger to read, write, and explore the powerful ways that poetry can give us meaning in a convoluted world. Participants do not need to focus on poetry in any of these prompts! Free responses and writing are always encouraged too.
Allie Rigby is a Bay Area poet and educator with roots in the chaparral of southern California. Her writing is published in Manzano Mountain Review, Cholla Needles, Living on Earth Radio, and more. Allie’s workshops are for all levels and range from poetry to the art of teaching creative writing.