After a too-long hiatus, Writing in the Margins is back! Today marked the return of Patchwork Poetics, with a new approach for this round.

Rather than following our usual formula of three prompts within the session, with each prompt generating a discrete piece of writing, this round will be much more focused on generating a cohesive body of work which we will then turn into chapbooks or a performance. It’s ambitious, and exciting! (And there are still a couple spots left, if you would like to sign up!)

Our structure for this round will be one facilitator-provided prompt (that’s me, the facilitator!), time to review and offer feedback on each other’s revised work (which we will be emailing to the group during the week and then discussing at the group), and one writer-generated prompt related to their specific project. Today we sketched out our projects, talked about how they might work together (amazingly well, it turns out), and wrote on two prompts.

First, I want to brag about these projects. They will range from the self-consciously falsely individualistic (that’s mine! Set up false walls and explore within them, pretend this island isn’t connected to the ocean floor and see what comes of it, explore the me that stops at my skin), to the gloriously communal (exploring the collectivity and contagiousness of pain, each of us in a shared ocean of pain), to navigating the boundaries of individual and communal, self and society (looking particularly at destabilizing the comfortable upward trajectory of ambition and career, and exploring vulnerable creative space). It’s going to be amazing.

The first prompt we wrote on is an Annie Dillard quote, taken from Sage Cohen’s book¬†Writing the Life Poetic, in the section titled “Spending More Than You Save.”

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now… Something more will arise later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes. – Annie Dillard

We wrote about, and talked about, the risks we associate with “spending” our creativity and our emotional energy. Turns out, it’s pretty frickin’ scary to actually put our words and our hearts out into the world. That’s why we’re doing it together!

Our second prompt was Andrea Gibson’s beautiful, generous poem “A Letter To The Playground Bully, From Andrea (age 8).”

As always, the safety of the space within these workshops allowed for some beautiful, cathartic, generous (and sometimes ranting!) poems to be written and shared. I feel honoured to be working with a Patchwork group again, and excited about where this new format will take us. Keep your eyes on this space for weekly updates, and watch for a performance to be announced sometime in the next couple months!

Are there any workshops that you’re particularly interested in attending? Comment or send me an email at and let me know! I’m scheduling the summer programming now and am excited to get back into it.


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