Workshops embody the heart of the Juniper Institute. In these small workshops, writers focus on new work and work-in-progress. Workshops meet daily to actively interrogate larger issues of form, style, content, language, and process; and participants benefit from having their writing read by these thoughtful, careful audiences.
Every workshop has its own climate and conventions. While details are subject to revision, here’s how the 2019 faculty describe their approach to their Juniper workshops.
Our time here is short and happily intense. I think you will use it best and hardest by producing new work while you are here, by internalizing—through the act of writing—the varied lessons that arise among us. My idea is to approach the work in units. We might spend a whole workshop, for instance, looking at adjectives and adverbs; another workshop looking at dialogue; another at the angle of perception; another at rhythm and syntax. After each workshop, I ask that you embrace what you’ve discovered by producing work that responds to those discoveries—in direct and meaningful and immediate ways.
Participants’ new, raw material will provide the basis for this workshop. We will be working on three to four stories per session; the last session will be devoted to individual manuscript consultation (number of participants permitting). In addition to working with participant’s manuscripts, we’ll also be discussing some (more or less, classic or strange) stories to explore the techniques to make them effective.
A short survey of occult poets and practitioners of the past as well as those of us practicing currently around the world. We will also work with (Soma)tic poetry rituals, investigating moon cycles, tarot, crystal work, and ways to heal through poetry and ritual. We will also discuss the importance of keeping our creative skills sharpened and how to collaborate with artists from other disciplines beyond the idea and practice of ekphrastic poetry. We will also collectively create personalized (Soma)tic poetry rituals for each participant. We will focus on writing in our lives just as they are, not so much making space for art but seeing how poetry is waiting inside what we already do to be able to live in this world. Seeing the creative viability in everything around us in the every day, wherever we are, that is where the real magic lives!
In this generative workshop, we will stoke our imaginations by (often collaboratively) writing and performing mini operas, puppet plays, poem-type-things, making books, studying flowers, and making a way together.
In our workshop you’ll be invited to bring us your most questionable poems, your almost there poems, your inklings of poems, your most difficult (especially to you) poems, your poems in progress, your poems done and finished, complete and mysterious. (whether this be in poem or in prose) And with them your concerns, risk-taking questions, gut feelings, risks, and instincts, your experience as a writer and as a reader, and your understanding of why poems matter, to you, and anyone. You’ll be invited to bring us poems by poets you admire so we can gain a collective reading experience we can talk about, refer to, and enjoy. You’ll be given a chance if you chose it, to tell us how you happen to come to be writing poetry and what you hope your poetry will be up to. You’ll be invited to ask questions, tell us things, direct our conversation toward subjects you feel significant to poets gathering over poetry, in order to love it, to question it and to further its life in the future. Your work is the heart and soul and brain of our meetings and it will be our main focus.
We will workshop your creative nonfiction with an eye towards improving your understanding of and skills in the areas of characterization, setting, dialogue, structure, point of view, as well as idea, etc. But since memorable nonfiction is more than a facility with craft, we also will spend considerable time exploring the characteristics of voice and style, focusing on attributes such as diction, syntax, sound, sentence length, sentence rhythm, and repetition – or in other words, further means by which one might, to paraphrase Susan Sontag, preserve the work of the mind against oblivion. In addition, we will read exemplary nonfiction, and if time permits, discuss those readings in class. The workshop will also include generative writing exercises.
Words & Pictures, Images & Text, Poetry & Prose
In our workshop we’ll be exploring what words and images can do together; if you write or draw, if you photograph, if you collage or otherwise make pictures and words, images and texts, poetry or prose, your work will have a welcoming audience with adventuring, investigating intentions; if your notebook is full of scraps of words, scribbles and sketches, if you think some things have to be made in words and others in pictures, and some in a combination of the two, from Illuminated Manuscripts to graffiti, from shaped verse to poetry comics to genre-breaking, genre-combining new as yet unnamed outcomes, we’ll make a place for discovery and depth, play and inspiration to thrive; some of the artists we’ll recall are Anne Carson, Claudia Rankine, Art Spiegelman and Matthea Harvey, Glen Baxter, Joseph Cornell, Cy Twombly and others; we’ll be treated to a private behind the scenes visit and conversation in the archives of the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum (just down the road in South Amherst); your new work and your concerns about new directions constitute the center and clear focus of our time together.