Writing in the New Year
As humans beings, we’ve made at least this one big agreement with one another: time exists. We use it to mark segments of our collective existence, give those segments a beginning and an end, and note each time one comes around again. Across cultures and calendars, the ritual acknowledgement of the new year invites us to cast our gaze back into the past and look forward into the future from the threshold of this moment, where we stand. Of the month leading up to the Jewish New Year, Marge Piercy writes, “Now is the time to let the mind / search backwards like the raven / loosed to see what can feed us. / Now, the time to cast the mind forward / to chart an aerial map of the months.” In this generative, single-session workshop, we’ll recommit ourselves to our writing practice in 2020 by engaging with poems that reflect upon time and change, and by using exercises designed to help us reflect on the past and look ahead to the unknown. Students can expect to leave the class with new work generated during our time together and with a few small tokens to remind them of their commitments to themselves in the year ahead. Though the focus of the workshop will be on creating new work, there will be many opportunities for sharing along the way.
Laura Eve Engel is the author of Things That Go (Octopus Books, 2019). A recipient of fellowships from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, her work can be found in the Nation, Best American Poetry, Boston Review, PEN America, Tin House and elsewhere. She has taught courses in creative writing, literature and composition at the University of Houston, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Fordham University, among other places, and for ten years she worked with high-school-age writers and new teachers at the University of Virginia’s Young Writers Workshop, where she served as residential program director from 2012 to 2017. A musician in the off-hours, she’s one half of a band called The Old Year.