Posts Tagged 'teaching'

Summer Scenes: 2013 Edition

People don’t actually fall off the face of the earth.

For one thing, there’s gravity. For another, we’re always somewhere, doing something (until we’re not).

But you’re forgiven for wondering just where the heck I went. (Thanks for caring!)

Did I end up in some strange desert?

IMG_9205

Or get lost in the woods?

Montjuic graffiti

Am I in a land where art is larger than humans?

Fundació Joan Miró

Or houses look like they’re made of bone?

Casa Batlló

Well friends, I’m still in Barcelona – and all those photos above are from Barca, too. Which is just one more reason in a list of many that I can’t tire of this place. I’m constantly discovering something new.

This is not a love song

Well, actually this *is* a love song to the city

I’ve been here nearly 5 weeks now, and those photos were all taken in just the last few days. I’ve wandered through a cactus garden, past Miró’s constellations, across the mountain Montjuic, and inside (and around, and on top of) Gaudi’s amazing Casa Batlló all within the few days since the program where I taught ended.

And, oh the program!

I had incredible students this summer. I cannot even begin to tell you what a pleasure and a privilege it was to get to know them. Again I learned far more from them than they did me, but I’m pretty sure they had some fun along the way.

Creative Writing Minor Class 2013

My goofy expressions sometimes come in handy

Pedralbes Park with Major Class 2013

My incredible major class. 6 days a week and always interested, curious, and in good humor.

We visited ballrooms and Roman amphitheaters

Casa Castellarnau in Tarragona

Casa Castellarnau in Tarragona

Tarragona

Did Poetry Machine workshops and wrote about stunning photographs

The Poetry Machine

Sarah at Chema Madoz exhibit (I was thrilled to discover this photographer this summer - incredible work!)

Sarah at Chema Madoz exhibit (I was thrilled to discover this photographer this summer – incredible work!)

Both classes produced a literary journal and I couldn’t be more proud of them.

Literary journals, 2013

On the last day my major class surprised me with a gift. Delicious chocolate, and even more precious, a poem:

“Ode to Sion”

Eyes bright -
vivid and deep -
sparkling with youth and adventure

Smile wide and welcoming;
make her laugh and you’ll feel the warmth of summer

Kindness comes with her words,
poetry follows her pen:

delve into the depths of her notebook,
unfurl the web of ink
and lose yourself….

My amazing major class on the rooftop of La Pedrera

My amazing major class on the rooftop of La Pedrera

Yes, indeed. I cried. (Maya, Alexis, Sophia, Kiarra – THANK YOU! I will never forget you all!)

Now, I’m taking some time to rest and recuperate, though you can’t stop the brain from churning when inspired, either.

Sitges

Sitges

And I’ve found the perfect cafe, which I will now visit daily, Spice Cafe in Poble Sec.

Spice Cafe in Poble Sec

Spice Cafe in Poble Sec

In other news, I’ve made my first film appearance.

ScreenshotHeartOfBrunoWizardCameo

You may remember back in September I visited London to see a dear friend and be interviewed for a documentary about him. Well, The Heart of Bruno Wizard premiered at The East End Film Festival in July to a sold-out crowd. I couldn’t be at the premiere because it was the first day of classes, but it was quite the event! I hope the film will be picked up for distribution everywhere…and soon.

HeartOfBrunoWizardScreenshot2

And so that’s the quick summary. There’s more, of course – there always is! But for now, you know I have not fallen off the face of the earth. No, I am living rich, rewarding days – just off the screen.

How is your summer going? What’s the sunshine in your life?

Teaching Writing at WICE!

WICE classDecember! How is it the last month of the year already?

While I’m pondering just what the heck happened to 2012, exciting things are already brewing for the new year.

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be teaching a fun 4-week class at WICE starting in mid-January.

“Getting Unstuck: Conquering Fear of the Blank Page” will offer tips and techniques to encourage writing. Fear of the blank page is normal – but it can be overcome! Emphasis will be on generating new material and is appropriate for all genres as we’ll be using a variety of prompts and exercises for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Basically, I want to put the play back into writing. Workshops and critique groups have their place, but this isn’t that. I’m interested in exploring – and pushing past – the resistance we sometimes feel in even sitting down to write. How do I start? Or…I’m stuck. What can I do? We’ll try to answer those questions!

You know how classes are usually more interesting when the subject obviously touches the instructor, too? Well, I can tell you I proposed this class because it’s a topic very much alive for me. I’m fascinated by the feeling of wanting to write, but then finding every which way not to do it! I hope to create a space where participants can reconnect with the joy of creativity and get their pens flowing again. Perfect for that new year’s writing resolution!

4 Mondays (January 21, 28; February 4, 11) from 2 PM-4 PM. All the details and registration information over on the WICE website.

Come join me in the adventure!

Creative Writing Class Wrap-Up

Remember the last time you were really angry with someone. Now write about the incident from his or her point of view.

Parc Cervantes

Imagine you’re driving along an unfamiliar road. You hear the engine running, feel the strap of the seatbelt holding you in. Is it light or dark outside? The car stops. You step out. What do you see?

Write a poem of questions. No answers. Just questions.

Write about one of your scars.

Our bohemian writers’ day in 4 Gats Cafe

These are some of the prompts I used this summer in my creative writing class.

We usually began the day in this way, the first 20 minutes of our daily 3-hour class spent freewriting.

I’ve always loved what appears on the page during these exercises, seeing the material our subconscious alights upon when we turn off the internal censor. It was a privilege to hear what my students came up with. No matter what I threw at them – pick 3 words from this hat and use them in a scene! Look at this random object; now put it in your writing! “Translate” this Zapotec poem even though you don’t know the language! – they set right to writing and astounded with their imagination.

Writing in the garden: University of Barcelona

So it’s kind of ironic that after a month spent urging others to write (write! write for your life!) I am having trouble myself.

I keep feeling like I need to tell you all about my summer in Spain, all these new experiences, all of this stuff…but I don’t know where to begin. I don’t yet know what it actually means.

So I’ll start with what I know so far. In some ways I did a better job this summer than I thought I would. In other ways, I just scraped by by the skin of my teeth. That pretty much sums up what a first teaching experience would be like, right?

The great thing about the program is that it emphasized “experiential learning.” As in, these students didn’t fly across the ocean to sit inside every day. Each teacher was charged with getting them out and about, to use the city as the classroom.

For a subject like creative writing that’s both straightforward and something of a stretch. We can write anywhere! Everything is material!

Of course, on certain days the link wasn’t always so obvious. Why did we go to that garden to talk about story structure? What does this museum have to do with plot?

Continue reading ‘Creative Writing Class Wrap-Up’

Summerflings, We Were Evergreen

Yesterday was the summer solstice and Fete de la Musique, the popular music festival that takes over the streets of Paris. The sky rained, then shined, then opened up and unleashed a humongous helping of hail.

By evening, the freak storm had passed and people paraded through the streets taking in the tunes.

I’m not sure why it is, but I always have something big I’m preparing for that precludes me from fully engaging in the festivities. They are always good things, though, so I’ve come to associate the day with opportunity. Last year I was about to jet back to the States and pick up my MFA degree. This year I am preparing for an entire month in Spain.

You read that right – Espana!

Continue reading ‘Summerflings, We Were Evergreen’


paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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