Tag Archives: the Workshop

What Poets and Writers passed up. . .

Here’s the skinny. . .

In the next to last issue of Poet’s and Writer’s magazine Dan Barden wrote an aptly titled “rant” against workshops. You can read it here.

I wrote the following in response. They elected not to publish it. Hence, here goes:

Dan Barden’s “Workshop: A Rant Against Creative Writing Courses,” (March/April 2008) once again calls attention to issues that have troubled writers for years about the workshop. In fact, Barden and others who despair enough to rant might find solace in the recently published crop of books that explore teaching creative writing both theoretically and practically. In Anna Leahy’s Power and Identity in the Creative Writing Classroom: The Authority Project, Graeme Harper’s Teaching Creative Writing, Steve Earnshaw’s The Creative Writing Handbook, and my own anthology with Kelly Ritter, Can It Really Be Taught?: Resisting Lore in Creative Writing Pedagogy, to name just a few, Barden will find essays by fellow writers who have also struggled mightily with the pedagogy of the workshop, who examine it closely and who often suggest concrete ways in which instructors can revise it so that actual learning he questions does take place. Supporting these writers’ effort’s by availing ourselves of the growing body of knowledge that explores creative writing pedagogy is critical and empowers all of us who teach the subject.

Stephanie Vanderslice
Conway, Arkansas

It had to get out somehow. Talk to you soon.
Bye y’all

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And it’s off. . .and more about Edith Wharton’s Home

Finally finished my essay, “Once More to the Workshop: A Myth Caught in Time,” and emailed it to Dianne Donnelly, who’s editing a collection on the current state of the workshop for Multilingual Matters.  I had fun with it, weaving in relevant quotes from E.B. White’s oft-anthologized “Once More the Lake” (read it here) in order to make the point that the “traditional” workshop has been mythologized to the point that it is a frozen icon–much like White’s lake, and his essay.  In it, I also got to give my two cents about Dan Barden’s essay (he call’s it a rant, and rightly so) in the most recent issue of Poet’s and Writers, in which he demonstrates a complete lack of awareness of recent research and writing on creative writing pedagogy (recent meaning of the last say, ten years).   Honestly folks, how many essays do we have to have re-inventing the wheel (the traditional workshop is problematic?  really?  what a concept!) before we move on!

In other news, apparently, the fight of save Edith Wharton’s The Mount has garnered quite a bit of attention and now, an official blog at helpsavethemount.blogspotcom. All the important donation  info is there, new photos, and, soon, stories from readers about the influence the Mount or Edith Wharton has had on them.  I duly contributed.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this historic site has had quite an influence on me.

Also baked bread this weekend, in order to make sure my husband and kids have a good stock while I am in Kalamazoo later this week for the Writing Project, and spent a delightful half day with my favorite almost-three-year old sprite, Lillian.  We blew bubbles, built with duplo blocks, drew with crayons and cut with scissors–or rather, I assisted with the latter and was formally dubbed a “good helper!”

At some point I’ll post a recipe for the bread; very simple, my husband’s family recipe, but there’s nothing like it.

That’s all for now.  Don’t forget about the giveaway.

Bye y’all,



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Snowdays and Giveaways

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It was touch and go for awhile there–they didn’t announce it until 7:30, but we got our longed for snow day this morning. When I woke up at around 2:30 am it was still raining, so I was quite suprised to see everything blanketed in white when the sun came up.
So, for all of you who went to work today, here is my “What I did On My Snow Day List”

1. Stood outside in a blanket and a bathrobe taking pictures of the house (below).
2. Watched my kids throw snowballs at each other.
3. Witnessed the birth of a snow midget (also below).
4. Made snow ice cream.
5. Drank twice as much coffee as usual. Mmmmm!
6. Appeased the kids by watching two episodes of ICarly with them.
7. Had a nice game of Scrabble, the non-sedentary, testosterone-laced version that results when you play with two elementary aged boys and their father, which means that it is impossible to come up with a word unless you’re hanging upside down from the top of the sofa or discovering new projectile uses for the tiles.
8. Worked on an essay, “Once More to the Workshop,” that is due to the editor on Monday. I’ll be driving hard on it between now and then, but I made significant progress today.
9. Had soup for lunch. Campbell’s Butternut Squash. Mmm.
10. Walked 30 minutes on the treadmill.
11. Emailed back and forth about several writing project issues, including our upcoming inservice in Sheridan and talked with people who want to start a site in Jonesboro.
12. And, drumroll please, decided on another giveaway. My generous mother gave me Naomi Epel’s The Observation Deck for my birthday not knowing I already had it (it was actually one of our summer institute books in the writing project several years ago). It’s a great kit for writers of all ages, with a journal, a notebook of inspirations and cards to extend them. I’ll give it away in a drawing from anyone who posts between now and March 31!

Unfortunately, it’s already started to melt.
Oh well.
Bye y’all
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