Those Who Can, Teach

I’ll admit that I never really nailed all of the grammar
rules until I became a high school English teacher.  I firmly believe that the best way to learn
something deeply is to teach it to someone else. Good teachers spend time
considering their subject from all angles, pulling it apart, and putting it
back together in a way that allows their students to follow them.
Last summer, I taught a workshop in lineation at the
Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference. Before I’d begun to prepare for the workshop,
if you’d asked me how I decided where to break a line of poetry, I might have
answered by feel or I don’t know or it’s instinct. Some of that is true; I learned how to use line
breaks by reading thousands of poems and paying attention to the way other
poets used the line to create something more than what prose would yield. But
as I began to read books written about lineation (oh yes, there are such
things), I realized that I could pull apart the different purposes behind a
poet’s choice of where to break the line. I could explain that process in a way
that another person could employ.
Then I went back and looked at my own poetry. I looked at
each line break and tried to decide if I could apply what I was teaching to my
own work. The process led to stronger poems. I’ll hope that what I taught
helped the workshop participants. I know it helped me.
Even though the 2016 workshop season seems very far away, it
isn’t. Have you ever considered teaching what you know to other writers? We’re
looking for instructors for next year for workshops that would be taught
between late January and May. Our course offerings typically fit into one of
three categories: 1) Elements courses (6-8 hours); 2) Genre-based workshops
(12-15 hours); and 3) Special topics (single session of 2-3 hours). Our
students prefer evenings and weekends and courses that last fewer than five
weeks. Loosely, Elements courses include cross-genre topics like
character, voice, narrative structure, point of view, descriptive language, and
revision. Workshops are by genre, including fundamentals classes for emerging
writers and workshops exploring advanced techniques. In workshops, students
draft and revise within their genres. The shorter special topics courses, with their
exploratory bent, are intended to be fun. We strive to balance course offerings
each term with regard to length, type, and genre.
If you want to teach, simply fill out our Course Proposal form on this page by November 15 and I’ll be in touch. And while
you’re at the website, check out some classes that still have room for a few
more folks:
  • Burning with Love: How to Write About Love Without Blushing
    with Alyse Knorr (Anchorage)
  • The Spiritual in Writing: Across Faiths, Genres, and Time
    with Kathleen Tarr (Anchorage)
  • No Blogging Required! How To Match Your Online Presence With
    Who You Really Are
    with Cindy Dyson (online)
  • First Person Complicated – The Dual-Voice Narrator with
    Andromeda Romano-Lax (online)
  • And a new class: List and Litany with visiting poet Caroline
    Goodwin (in Anchorage AND Juneau AND Sitka). This class is designed to help you walk
    confidently into the metaphorical “blank page”.  As writers, we must do
    this again and again, regardless of whether we are seasoned artists or just
    getting started. Our minds contain many doors, our imaginations many openings
    and opportunities. In List and Litany we will spend the first hour responding
    to a series of specific prompts. These will take us through several imaginative
    doors. Next, we will read and begin to shape our writings, looking for any
    patterns that present themselves. We will listen to
    Christopher Dewdney perform a section of A Natural History of
    Southwestern Ontario
     and we will read a few poems that use listing
    effectively. The workshop will conclude with a reading and discussion of next
    steps in developing the writing. Every student will have the opportunity to
    send a piece of writing to the instructor via snail mail for a brief written

You can register here!
Have a great week, folks. Make sure you make time for your
take care,


1 thought on “Those Who Can, Teach”

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top