UTWG and The Mill to co-host poetry reading

The UT Writer’s Guild and The Mill literary magazine will host a Banned Books Week poetry reading Wednesday, September 28 at 7 p.m. in Room 2240 of the Field House on the University of Toledo’s Main Campus.

The featured poet at the event is Zach Fishel, a graduate student at UT.

The reading, presented in open mic format, will also feature The Mill editor in chief Peter Faziani and UTWG president Michael Beers reading their own work.

Several other students will read at the event as well, including members of the UT Writer’s Guild.

Banned Books Week 2011Banned Books Week is an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association to raise awareness of books banned and challenged in schools and libraries. Banned Books Week encourages the sharing of literature and ideas between and among groups.

Contact UTWG vice president Feliza Casano (feliza [dot] casano [at] rockets [dot] utoledo [dot] edu) for more information or to sign up to read.  You may also contact Feliza for more information about the UT Writer’s Guild.

Links:

UTWG sponsoring Poetry in the Park

The University of Toledo Writer’s Guild is sponsoring a poetry reading and social event called Poetry in the Park Friday, September 23 at Wildwood Metropark.

The brown-bag event is free and open to all University students.

At the event, students are invited to bring at least one poem to read: either a poem they wrote or a poem by their favorite author.

Poetry in the Park will take place at 5 p.m.   Interested students can meet the group in the Student Union South Lounge between 4 and 4:30 p.m. to carpool over.  On-campus students who do not have cars are encouraged to meet UTWG officers there.

Attending students do not need to bring a poem, particularly students not registered as UTWG members, but are certainly encouraged to do so.

To learn more about the event, contact UTWG vice president Feliza Casano at feliza [dot] casano [at] rockets [dot] utoledo [dot] edu.

More information:

The University of Toledo Writer’s Guild is a student organization of the University of Toledo dedicated to helping students develop their writing, network with others with similar interests, and provide new opportunities for student writers.

End of August: Current Projects & Progress

It’s the end of the month again, so you know what that means: time to give you another update on the current progress I’m making with my large writing projects.  I’ve got several up on the table.

  • Please Be Mine: PBM now has a blog of sorts – it now has its own page on the West Bancroft Side Story blog.  Check it out to learn more about the project!  Currently, I have completed the first two episodes and some scenes in the final two episodes.
  • The Final Experiment: This project is in the editing stage, but I’ve been moving really slowly on it.  I think I’ll be putting on hold until January, since I’m going to be busy this semester with jobs and classes.
  • Unnamed novel: One of the ONLY unnamed projects I’m working on recently got a bit of a revival thanks to some conversations about steampunk with a close friend of mine…  You might expect to see a little bit about the novel (including a post begging for title ideas!) or about the steampunk movement in general in the upcoming months!

There’s a bit more going on at the moment, but since I’m starting a new job soon I can’t really do too much.  The following projects are on hold until further notice:

  • The Rules
  • WBSS Live!
  • Project Revolution (Project Archangel trilogy in general)

For now, I’ll probably focus on the three large projects mentioned above as well as poetry and short fiction because of my work with the UT Writer’s Guild.  Keep an eye out for more of my articles on workshopping!

Poem: “Toledo Skies”

The city falls asleep each night
as the gold-orange streetlamps light the sky
Purple swathes of cloud float
above treetop hills and tar-covered roofs

What is there to a city besides people?
When the people are not there at all
when the nightfall drives them to the cover of
front porch chairs and backyard patios

Each night when the sun falls
to let the purple darkness rise
over the asphalt streets and city forests
and the sounds of the people alive.

This poem was written as part of a writing prompt for the UT Writer’s Guild.

Workshopping: General Guidelines

First in a series about conducting writing workshops.  The second part will focus on short fiction, the third on poetry, the fourth on scriptwriting, and the fifth on workshopping or editing long fiction.

As a member of the executive board for an on-campus writing group called UT Writer’s Guild, I’m supervising weekly writing workshops for our in-town members this summer.  I’ve noticed a few things that might be helpful to those who want to conduct writing workshops of their own.

1. Establish rules and/or guidelines early on

For a peer review workshop, rules about how to treat the other writers as well as guidelines on what to bring are usually pretty important.  Usually, I set basic conduct rules at the beginning of each session:

  • Treat other writers with respect – you can be firm, you have the right to dislike the work or to criticize, but you do not have the right to be verbally abusive.
  • Read out loud if you like, but we won’t make you do anything you don’t want to – we’re all about comfort and peer support at Writer’s Guild.

However, some workshops – be it a general writing organization or a student writing organization – will likely also find it helpful to set guidelines about what to bring.  Here are a few possibilities:

  • Limit page or line count.  If you know that you’ll have 25 people at your workshop, it’s not practical to allow everyone to bring in a 10-page work.
  • Limit exactly what type of work.  Maybe your group is a NaNo prep or support group.  In that case, you don’t want scripts or poetry.  Or maybe you personally know nothing about fiction – then you should run a poetry workshop.  You don’t have to do everything, you know.
  • Limit who brings what.  I’ll go back to the 25-person example above: going through 25 short stories is never practical for a single workshop, even if it lasts for hours.  Assign weekly rotations and let everyone know who can bring in work on which week.  Added bonus: you can hand out the work the week before so people can read at home, leaving you more in-workshop time to discuss the piece.

Again, that’s just a sample, but seriously consider making a list of guidelines and rules for your group workshop.  As I write this, I’m beginning to seriously consider writing down my rules.

2. Establish a meeting place and stick to it

Everyone’s had it happen to them: attend a meeting, make friends, love the group, decide to come back next week – only to discover the day’s changed, the time has changed, or the place has changed.  Sucks, right?

When you’re deciding to do a weekly or bi-weekly workshop, choose a place, day, and time to go and make sure you stay there!  If you MUST change it up – for example, if you get a new job or your class schedule changes – make sure everyone knows about the change.

It’s also best if you choose a public location instead of someone’s home unless everyone in the group is very close and friendly with one another.  UTWG meets at a coffee shop near campus during the summer.

3. Recruit newcomers to the workshop

This is more or less a no-brainer for every organization, but don’t forget to recruit others to your workshop.  Figure out how many people your group can handle each week, then try to reach that goal.

For example, we can comfortably workshop with 4 to 6 people or, if we have more than that, split into two groups so we can have more personal discussions.  Usually, about 3 or 4 people attend, so we’re trying our hardest to let the other members know where and when we meet.

Incidentally, you can even use the workshops as a recruitment tool: letting others know that you’re having a workshop may entice them to come.  Which brings us to our final point…

4. Network, network, network!

Anyone who wants to succeed as a writer or editor knows that networking is incredibly important, so don’t pass this opportunity up!  Talk with other members of your group, get their phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and learn more about your local writing community.

Of course, you have to follow up on it.  Check out their blog – many writers have blogs about something or another – and post comments to it.  You may find interesting stuff you may want to recommend to your friends.

There are also other ways that networking can help you.

Social networking is an excellent tool for writers.  Facebook has a Groups application that makes it easy to create, organize, and contact your workshop group.  We post prompts, links, and meeting times in the group, which makes it easier to see who’s going and who’s not.

Conclusion

There are plenty of ways to create a writing workshop.  While it’s good to have freedom in the group, it’s also good to have a little structure.

The most important part, however, is to grow as a writer and to help others in the workshop grow as writers, too.  There are many ways to help your members do so, and the rest of the Workshopping series will help you help others.  Keep checking back here for the next four parts of the series.

Do you attend workshops?  What works best in your workshops?