Poetry About a Difficult Past: One Approach

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Note: The presenter's poetry memoir, because god loves the wasp, will be published by Unsolicited Press on August 30, 2022.

In this workshop I'll share the process I employed to write and revise a memoir in verse about the 2.5 years I experienced within the abusive, for-profit, cult-based "troubled teen" industry in the 1990s.

There's no single right way to write a memoir in verse, of course, but I found the method I developed to be helpful with tackling frightening, painful, confusing, and distant subject matter. In this workshop I'll share:

  • How I gently and systematically pulled myself through various stages of the writing and revision processes
  • How I utilized both conscious emotional distancing and emotional immersion at different times, always with the aim of (at least partially) sidestepping being re-harmed while facing these memories
  • The ways in which the form and aesthetics of the poems developed through freewriting, magnification, voice shifting, audience considerations, cooperation between my past & present selves, and more
  • How I learned to recognize the line between between what I had written for myself versus what I had written for the book
  • Advice on what I wish I had done differently, especially with regards to obtaining therapeutic support

You'll leave this workshop with helpful tools for writing your own memoirs in verse -- or for simply writing individual poems about trauma and/or a difficult past.

TRIGGERS: Since it will look at content from my book, this workshop will contain triggering subject matter; primarily the verbal, emotional, psychological, and physical abuse and neglect of minors, with brief mentions of other traumas including sexual assault.

This workshop will take place on Zoom. It is scheduled for 3 hours instead of the more commonly scheduled 2 hours in order to allow for the workshop to proceed safely and without rushing; to provide a lengthy, restful break; and to allow for as many questions as possible. The format will be:

12:30–1:45 - Presentation & Discussion 1:45–2:15 - Break 2:15–3:30 - Presentation & Discussion

The suggested payment is $20. Please pay what you can afford; all payments go directly to supporting my writing and teaching. If you do not have the financial resources to pay any amount, please select the "Solidarity" ticket option.