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Festival: Write Away

Saturday, November 15, 1-4 PM, the Mark Twain House (351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford). A variety of 50-minute poetry-writing workshops, ranging from “Reading Your Poems to an Audience” to “Death Riding Shotgun: How Mortality Shapes Writing.”  Workshops presented by poets Yvon Cormier, Donna Marie Merritt, Lisa Taylor, and Elizabeth Thomas, and followed by the opportunity to browse and buy at our Festival Bookstore. Free of charge.

Writing Workshops:

Yvon Cormier:  “The Poetry Experiment”  In this workshop, students will utilize surrealist and experimental writing techniques to create poetry.  Phrasing and unique phrasing will be the benefit and participants will walk away with new skills and completed poems.

Donna Marie Merritt:  “Reading Your Poems to an Audience”  This workshop seeks to offer practical advice to those preparing to read their work out load to an audience. It’s primarily aimed at those just beginning to share their work at open mics, but is also designed to provide tips to published poets who need a confidence boost when reading in front of an audience. We will discuss a variety of tips from posture to pronunciation to pacing. Participants should bring one or two poems of their own to practice in front of the group. This is not a performance poetry workshop for dramatic effect. lt is about reading with confidence with the added bonus of paying attention to how reading your work out loud helps with the revision process.

Lisa C. Taylor:  “Death Riding Shotgun:  How Mortality Shapes Writing”  How does your own mortality inform your work? In this workshop, participants will read and discuss poems that deal with mortality while understanding that, for a writer, morality is always present – looking in the window or darting across the road in front of us. Can the awareness of death offer the possibility of making our work more alive?  Are there ways to write about death that aren’t poems of loss and grief? We will be reading some unconventional poems and also writing our own poems. Poems of death are, in a sense, poems of life in its more visceral, acutely aware state. They can also be poems of celebration.

Elizabeth Thomas:  “Emerging Voices:  Personal and Public Persona”  The art of poetry and creative writing offers a rich variety of opportunities for personal and public discovery.  This workshop is ‘hearts open and pencils down’.  Participants will write and share in a supportive environment that promotes playfulness and collaboration.  Appropriate for all ages and experience.

About the Workshop Presenters:

Yvon J. Cormier has been writing poetry for over 18 years. His work is characterized by an influence of Jazz & Blues. He also makes wirework & beaded jewelry, teaches writing and jewelry workshops.  He writes from an insatiable nomadic intelligence which obsesses over what is unsaid and the seemingly invisible aspects of daily life. His work is rooted in drawing life pictures where words owe a greater debt to what they represent rather than the reverse. He has been published in the premier surrealist international Maintenant Journal, Polarity e-Magazine, Exuberant Ashtray, and Nibble a poetry magazine, to name a few. Life Sketches in Blue, his first poetry collection was published through D/E/A/D/B/E/A/T/ Press, in 2008.

Donna Marie Merritt is the author of Her House and Other Poems (Stairwell Books) and three books for the Poetry for Tough Times series (Avalon Press). Donna’s work has appeared in magazines, school reading programs, and American Library Association’s Book Links. Her poems have also been included in several anthologies: Caduceus (volumes 9 and 10) by the Yale Medical Group; Olives, Now and Then: poems in honor of Donald Hall by the Connecticut Poetry Society; Dear One: A Tribute to Lee Bennett Hopkins by the National Council of Teachers of English; and an upcoming National Geographic poetry anthology. She works days as a communications director and spends the rest of her time writing, reading, giving poetry readings, leading workshops, and visiting schools. In addition, Donna is the author of 15 math and science books for children. Learn more at www.DonnaMarieBooks.com or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_Marie_Merritt.

Lisa C. Taylor is a published poet and writer with four collections, mostly recently Necessary Silence (Arlen House/Syracuse University Press, 2013).  Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and her poetry and short stories have been published in numerous journals including Worcester Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Map Literary, and Healing Muse.  Her collaborative collection with Irish writer, Geraldine Mills, was taught at University of Connecticut and both writers were chosen for the Elizabeth Shanley Gerson Lecture in 2011.  Lisa teaches part-time at Eastern Connecticut State University and Nichols College. She has also conducted writing workshops in Ireland and the U.S., most recently at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem and in Portumna, Ireland.  A debut collection of short fiction is forthcoming in 2015.

Elizabeth Thomas is a published poet, performer, and educator. The author of two poetry collections and a book on writing, she has read her work throughout the United States and in 2009 taught “Poetry as Theater” in the United Arab Emirates. Much of her energy and time is devoted to designing and teaching writing programs for all ages. These programs promote literacy and the power of written and spoken word. As an outstanding advocate of youth in the arts, Elizabeth Thomas is a coach and organizer with Brave New Voices: International Youth Poetry Slam and Festival. She believes poetry is meant to be heard out loud and in person. She hosts a blog at www.stillwriting2.wordpress.com.