Wider Than The Sky Poetry Festival | Workshops 2018
A Young People's Poetry Festival
Festival, Poetry, California, Youth, Young, High School, Teens, Writing
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Student Workshops

Mining the Poetic Unconscious

Transcendent American poet Max Ritvo wrote that if the world outside a poet’s head is more interesting than the world inside their head, they might as well become a journalist. His point: it’s what’s inside the poet’s mind, what (or who) is hooting or singing or moaning or gagging inside the poet’s own totally unique psychic ecosystem that allows the poet access to a singular voice. In this workshop we’ll try various methods of popping under our own hoods and exploring our cognitive machinery (using things like meditation and bibliomancy and Rorschach tests), mining our discoveries for poetic language and imagery and more. Leaving the workshop, we’ll have generated drafts, jumping off points for new poems, and hopefully, if all goes well, better relationships with the little voices in our heads.

The Art of Storytelling Through Emceeing and Spoken Word

This workshop is designed to help participants facilitate finding their own voices through the art of spoken word poetry, emceeing, rhyming, reasoning, and descriptive narratives, order for them to tell their own stories. No experience is needed. All levels are welcomed. using writing prompts, acting techniques, and imagination and creativity, every participant will walk away with the tools to create their own pieces of spoken word poetry.

Sound Explosions: Caribbean Poetry

This workshop offers a broad introduction to Caribbean poetry, with a focus on the ways sound, rhythm, and language expand our possibilities for expression. We’ll look at creoles/nation languages, dub poetry, music, and poems that push beyond the confines of the stanza. Participants will craft their own sound experiments through writing prompts based on our discussion. All skill levels are welcome.

Writing Ritual Poetry Portals through Citrine

This poetry workshop will be centered around the Citrine stone, which is used in ritual and energetic practices for attunement, manifestation, imagination, and healing. We’ll look to the Somatic Ritual work of poet CA Conrad as a generative opening, and focal point, students will work with their own Citrine crystals (provided by AD, which they can keep!) to construct their own poems and Somatic-manifestation rituals. Together, through poetry and ritual, we’ll develop a sense of attunement, to create a set of poems-as-incantations to help us move through the world, and to help manifest the futures we both want and need.

I Just Want to Feel Everything

In this workshop we will explore the relationship that exists between music, poetry, and feelings. Think about your favorite song lyrics—what kind of work are they doing to create an emotional experience for the listener? How does this relate to the ways in which poems evoke feelings in the reader? Finally, how can we use the emotions songs bring to the surface to sharpen our own creative practices? We will discuss and compare those songs and poems that inspire and move us, and we will take some time to write from this place of inspiration while simultaneously considering the emotional impact of our words, hopefully forming a more self-aware and intentional approach to our craft (and our feelings!) in the process.

Cardio: Mental Workouts to Generate New Work

In a writing slump? CARDIO is a workshop of mental exercises to help writers generate new work quickly and without the hindrance of finding the right word. The workshop will begin with two energetic, slightly competitive and quick-paced group activities designed for participants to crowd-source words and concepts that can be used in poetry. Participants will receive guidance on how to identify overwrought language and replace this with fresh, meaningful terms. There will be some pushing [of thoughts] and hustle [in writing] and stretching [of limits]. Participants will leave the workshop with one poem generated from group activities and solutions for how to jump start their writing process when alone. Come work out!

When Media Intersect: Visualizing Your Poetics

Ever feel like your poems could be a movie? Is there a difference between a line break and a cut between frames? Sometimes wish that incredibly clever reference you made with words had a visual accompaniment to make it *that* much more vivid? In this workshop we will look at the work of a variety of poets who have ventured into hybrid forms: combining their poems with visuals or sonic landscapes. Then, we will turn to your work, and consider ways to incorporate other media into your poetic practice. You will emerge with something new.

Poetry Comics!

This workshop will focus on, you guessed it, poetry comics. We’ll explore this emerging art form in a few different ways. First, we’ll take a look at examples of poetry comics by poet-artists like Bianca Stone, Oliver Bendorf, and Eroyn Franklin. Next, we’ll stretch our poetry comics muscles by adding our own words to existing comics and by drawing comics to accompany existing lines of poetry. Finally, we’ll be ready to create our own original poetry comics. No previous experience or fancy art materials required! All you need is a pen/pencil, some paper, and the desire to try something new!

Don’t Explain a Single Thing: Utilizing Your Own Language in Your Writing

What is proper English? What is accessible language? For many, language has always been a border. Whether it’s the mundane mechanics of your day job, the way you and your family communicate, or the made up words between you and your best friend, we all have access to our own unique worlds of languages. This generative writing workshop aims to help poets expand their poetic lexicon by reevaluating what can be considered language.

The Apocryphilia Poem: Re-inventing the Myth, the Narrative, the Pop Culture Icon

Our cultural mythos—whether religion, racial or ethnic narratives, or an iconic event or person in history—defines who we are as a country and reflects our reality. However, rarely do we get to pen those myths or that history. They are given to us. Sometimes, it feels like the larger cultural mythos doesn’t represent our people, or us as individuals. This workshop will give young poets a chance to reinvent the narrative, update the fairy tale, or turn the pop culture icon on its head in order to make a comment on relevant social or political issues. We will read some poems together and talk about some poets who have employed this form before we leap into our own poems.

A Home For Our Ghosts

The question “Where are you from?” is often more complicated than it seems. I am inspired by one of James Baldwin’s lectures where he retold a story about a time when he was asked this very question. Also, I want us to consider that our favorite artists, poets, singers, and rappers often write about where they are from. I want us to ask ourselves this question and consider that home can be one of our own making on the page. Our stories, histories, voices, and even ancestors or ghosts can find rest in our works.

Future Tense: Poetry as Blueprint

In this workshop, we will explore ways in which we can use poetry to imagine realistic utopias in the not so distant future, and how those futures can allow us to reverse engineer the steps we would need to materialize them. Looking at speculative worlds built inside tiny poems, this workshop’s goal is to inspire us towards change, possibility, action, dreaming, and building the worlds we deserve.

Note To Self: Poetry, Body Image and Self Love

In this guided workshop, participants will write poems that celebrate self-love. Exercises deconstruct media representations of beauty and promotes self-confidence and positive body image. Participants will write both collaboratively and individually. Open to all levels, come prepared to grow.

Slam That Poetry: Turning Written Word Into Spoken Word (Sesson 2 only)

If you want to turn your poems into amazing performance pieces and are interested in performing at the open mic at the end of the festival, come join us. We’ll review basic mic etiquette, rhythm in performance, and the classic-response format used in Get Lit! poetry slam competitions. We’re so looking forward to meeting you and hearing your work!

Teacher Workshops

So You Wanna Coach a Slam Team?

Sara Cohen with Eric Olson
Our workshop will be a team led collaborative brainstorming session for teachers looking to coach their own slam teams. We’ll present some techniques for coaching poets, using videos of our Harvard-Westlake poets and others as examples, and then brainstorm collaboratively with all of the other teachers in the room. The workshop will focus equally on the writing side and the performing side of coaching young slam poets.

Toward Teaching Poetry with Quietude & Wonder

In an age where educators are increasingly concerned about distracted attention spans, poetry can serve as a great salve against the overwhelm. Mindfully engaging poems together affords an opportunity for a shared experience of quietude & wonder, where students (and teachers!) can slow down, visualize, and enter text in transformative ways. From this space of attention, students can analyze and respond to the poem with deepened concentration, vulnerability, and awareness. In this teacher to teacher workshop, we will share and revivify our own joy of poetry, an ancient and innovative practice, and hope to reaffirm its capacity for acceptance, insight, and compassion.