Tag Archives: writing class

Hugo at the Henry: Senses in Reading and Writing

25 Nov

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On March 21, I’m teaching a special one-day Hugo House class at the Henry Art Gallery. As I mentioned in a recent Ploughshares blog post, I’ve been helping out with the literary component of Ann Hamilton: the common S E N S E, the exhibit that has taken over all of the Henry from October to April. The show explores the sense of touch and our relationship to nature as well as being touched–emotionally, intellectually–through the private act of reading.

The exhibit has filled the galleries with scanned images of taxidermy animals from the Burke Museum of Natural History, with children’s ABC primers and bestiaries from the University of Washington’s Libraries Special Collections, and with clothing made from animal products both from the Burke and from the Henry’s collections. Throughout the galleries, at different times, chorale singers sing to the objects. And, reader/scribes read aloud to objects of their choice, like a bedtime story, from a common text that will change over the course of the show–the first is J.A. Baker’s The Peregrine, a beautiful book. These reader/scribes, when particularly moved by a passage in the text, record that passage into a log book. These log books will accumulate over time, becoming a record of a collective reading experience.

There are a number of ways to participate in this rich exhibit:

  • Submit a fragment from your own reading that deals with the sense of touch (literally or intellectually) to this tumblr site; your submissions may be included in the exhibit!
  • Volunteer to be a reader/scribe. I’ve done it four times so far; it’s a powerful experience, and I’m writing about it now and hope to share it with you soon. Perks: free admission, a free pass to return to the exhibit, and an invitation to participate in a discussion of the experience with other reader/scribes and facilitated by a member of the literary community (including me!).
  • Take my Hugo House class Senses at the Henry on Saturday, March 21, 12-3 pm. We’ll do the reader/scribe activity, contributing to the exhibit itself (exciting!), discuss the experience, and then dive into creative writing in response to the show. Member registration begins on December 9 and general registration opens on December 16.

Hope to see you around the Henry in the coming months!

Looking & Seeing: Generating Prose with Paintings

22 Jan

I’m teaching a one-day class at the Hugo House on Saturday, February 11 from 1-5 pm. The class, Looking & Seeing: Generating Prose with Paintings, will use paintings as prompts for fresh writing.

Here’s the description from the Hugo House website: We’ll mine a range of paintings (representational, surreal, abstract, etc.) to unearth new prose projects or add depth and breadth to works in progress. Rather than focusing solely on ekphrastic writing, making the writing an interpretation of a specific work of art, we’ll use visual art as prompts. These prompts will approach pieces from different angles, focusing on character, story and landscape (both internal and external). We’ll also experiment with style. To help with the creative percolation, we’ll take a look at a range of short published works that have been inspired by visual art. Students will write fresh material (from one to four pieces) and leave class with the tools to keep going.

This is something I’ve been doing with my own writing for years now, both for short stories and for the novel I’m finishing up, so I’m excited to unpack the process for others and see how they use it.  When I taught fiction at the University of Washington, bringing visual art into the classroom (or the class to visual art) was always great fun.  More fun will be had on February 11 and you can sign up for the class right here. Hope to see you then!

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