Writing workshop/ residency with Molly Prentiss
Author of Tuesday Nights in 1980
MARCH 12-19, 2017
A proposition: Let’s sit in an outdoor courtyard under a canopy of papery bouganvilla with our notebooks. Let’s see if we can get their particular wild pink onto the page. How can we render this color so it’s palpable? How can we catch the shadows of the flowers, make them shift and slide through our notebook, through our work? How can we capture the colors, shapes, sounds, moods and energies of a place, and how can those deepen and drive our writing, strengthen our stories?
This intensive week-long program will combine traditional workshop methods with site-specific studies to deepen students’ relationship with both their work and their surroundings. We will use Oaxaca City as our inspiration and our palette, always working to infuse our writing and our writing practice with the special texture of the place.
Mornings will be spent in the writing workshop, where students will have the opportunity to give and receive feedback on original work, participate in experimental writing exercises in the classroom and around the city, and engage in round table discussions prompted daily by the teacher. Afternoons will be open for exploration and personal work time. We will meet in the evenings for scheduled cultural events and a communal dinner and discussion.
From Molly: Each of our six days together will be comprised of a MORNING WRITING RITUAL, “CLASS” (which includes a mix of lessons, writing activities, readings, and dynamic discussions), INDEPENDENT EXPLORATION, an EVENING ACTIVITY and a GROUP DINNER
Each morning we will meet in the classroom for one hour of writing alongside each other. By beginning each morning with a free, uninhibited hour of expression, we will open and access the creative energy and mental space that we will utilize and inhabit for the rest of our day. By ritualizing this morning session, making it consistent and mandatory, it will become a foundational daily practice—one that we will begin to depend on and look forward to, and that we can take with us into our lives beyond Oaxaca.
Notes: Think about bringing your own private rituals into this group ritual. Do you drink coffee while you write? Do you play music? Do you write longhand in a specific notebook? Do you read what you write out loud? There is room not only to utilize your own trusty rituals but also to share them with the group. How can new rituals help you deepen or sustain your practice?
I've put class in quotes because our two-hour group sessions will not operate like a traditional academic course. I will not act as a traditional teacher, and you will not be expected to perform as students. Instead of “lessons”, each class will have a theme, or jumping off point for our discussions and our work. (See each class’s theme in the class breakdown, below.) These sessions will take place in various locations around the city, often informing that class’s theme. During these sessions, the only requirement is openness and engagement. Think of yourself of a teacher as well as a student, and come to class ready to share what you know and how you think with the group.
The “workshop” component of the class will be slightly different from workshops you may have participated in in the past. Because the timeline of the class is short, our critiques will be oral rather than written. Each student will have the opportunity to read from a piece (1-2 pages), and we will discuss the reading as a group, providing thoughtful praise and constructive feedback. This oral workshop will take place in the classroom after our morning ritual, before we head out into the field.
Your afternoons are all for you. You can go on an excursion out of the city, you can lay in the sun and read, or you can dive into your writing at the studio or at one of Oaxaca’s many libraries or cafes. We will provide a list of interesting/inspiring places and spaces in and outside of the city for you if you do choose to spend this time exploring.
Each student will also have the opportunity for a one-on-one discussion with Molly and/or Jess to discuss their projects, creative process, or any issues they are having in their work. We will sign up for these sessions at the beginning of the week; they will take place at 4pm at the studio.
Evening activities provide a deeper insight into the culture, history and vibrant creative community of Oaxaca, creating inspiration and context for your own writing through artistic exchange and discussion. Lectures will be followed by ample time for (highly-encouraged) questions and conversation.
After our evening activity, we will all congregate for dinner at a local restaurant or will be cooked for at the hotel. This is a space to share stories, commune, eat and laugh. Dinners are optional, but are a wonderful space to connect on a personal and social level with fellow residents.
The total cost of this workshop residency is $2200 and it is limited to 8 participants. Enrollment is on a first come first serve basis. Residency fees cover housing, morning and evening meals, all scheduled events, workshops, and workshop-specific materials. Residents are responsible for their own travel costs.
*Residents will be housed in a spacious B&B with considerable outdoor space to write or lounge in hammocks. Oaxacan breakfast will be provided each morning.
Molly Prentiss is the author of the highly acclaimed novel Tuesday Nights in 1980 and the founder of THE BLUE SCHOOL. She was born in Santa Cruz, California in 1984. She has been a Writer in Residence at The Blue Mountain Center, Vermont Studio Center and at the Workspace program the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and received the Emerging Writer Fellowship from the Aspen Institute. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of the Arts. She currently lives, writes and walks around in Brooklyn, New York.
The Blue School is an intimate creative writing program in North Brooklyn. The program focuses on the development of each students’ individual creative practice and the integration of this practice within the structure of their life. Deriving inspiration from the particular mood of the seasons, each six-week session focuses on bringing a different aspect of the writing process to life. Class is held in non-traditional artist spaces with the intention of deriving inspiration from other creative mediums, environments and individuals
photos: Saipua, Pocoapoco