Tag Archives: AWA

2015 Festival of Writing on July 11!

psrAWA West presents
our second annual
Festival of Writing!

Saturday, July 11
9:30am – 6:00pm
Pacific School of Religion
1798 Scenic Avenue, Berkeley
$65 for PSR/GTU students and $90 for the general public. (A limited number of seats are available at a discounted rate for low income writers. If you would like to request a discount, contact summer@psr.edu.)

Join us for the second annual Festival of Writing, hosted by Pacific School of Religion and AWA West! Don’t miss this day of powerful writing and supportive, kind community in an absolutely beautiful setting. There’s no better way to celebrate both your writing and the gifts of the Amherst Writers & Artists workshop method. Register now!

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She held out the song of the long view

Good morning! How is the sun peeling through the night’s succor where you are? Did you celebrate the Summer Solstice this weekend? Have you noticed that the days are shorter now?

This weekend I had the great pleasure of participating in A Festival of Writing, sponsored by AWA West and the Pacific School of Religion (Pat and Peter Schneider’s alma mater). I facilitated two writing sessions (one focused on writing about sex, and the other a general topic writing session, like Writing the Flood). What a gift it was to spend a day connecting with new writers and my AWA community here in the greater Bay Area. At the end of the day, we got to gather with Pat (via the wonders of technology), who shared with us about the seasons of a writer’s life and read from her new book How the Light Gets In: Writing As A Spiritual Practice.

In the second writing session, I started us off with a collection of images that I scattered over the table; we each chose an image or two, and wrote from those. The image that spoke to me was one that showed a bird flying over barbed wire, and this was the writing that came from the prompt:

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Open letter to a newly-trained Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) Affiliate

Hello, my friend! Welcome to the first day back in the real world. Maybe you won’t read this until this afternoon, or tomorrow. I hope that’s the case. I hope today you are sleeping late, taking care of your body, spending time with friends. I hope you haven’t had to push right back into the world of work, smartphones, data points, or commuting schedules.

It’s late morning and I, as one of your trainers, am still outside my usual routine. I am drained, overly full of human interaction, and missing you. After five days sequestered together, today we begin to drop back into our real worlds — we begin the process of integrating what and who we found and became during the training into our other life. I use “we” deliberately here — this is true for the trainers, too; we are changed through our interactions with you, the conversations and questions, the opportunities and invitations to examine our certainties, our points of view, and open just a little bit more deeply into this AWA method that threads itself through our hearts.

We spent five days — four of them nearly morning til after dark — discussing this writing group method that Pat Schneider developed, the one that each of us had already fallen in love with, that had already held most of us as writers, and opened a space for our own new and risky writing. You wanted to learn about holding that sort of space as a facilitator. This weekend we talked history and philosophy, craft and oppression, trauma and voice, poetry and creation. We experienced what is still a revolutionary idea: that it’s possible to invite and even teach writing outside of that traditional MFA/Iowa Workshop model, that good and powerful writing can emerge outside the mindset of competition and ruthless criticism. We talked about and then practice this method that has such a simple structure: Continue reading

When the light gets in (celebrating Pat Scheider with AWA West)

The list of "first times" we generated for our writing prompt during my writing group this weekend

The list of “first times” we generated for our writing prompt during my writing group this weekend — maybe use an item from this list as your prompt for this morning’s write!

Good Monday morning to you! The birds were a raucousness back there in the live oak tree about a  half hour or so ago, but they’ve all slipped off now to some other breakfasting place, and so my morning song is the distant rise in commuter traffic and a garbage truck doing its work a few blocks away. What music is finding you already this morning?

On Saturday this weekend I got to spend the afternoon and evening celebrating the release of Pat Schneider‘s new book, How the Light Gets In: Writing as Spiritual Practice. Pat is the founder and foremother of the Amherst Writers and Artists writing workshop method. She wrote, in another of her books (Writing Alone and With Others): “Everyone is a writer. You are a writer. All over the world, in every culture, human beings have carved into stone, written on parchment, birch bark, or scraps of paper, and sealed into letters–their words. Those who do not write stories and poems on solid surfaces tell them, sing them, and in so doing, write them on the air. Creating with words is our continuing passion.” She reminds us that William Stafford said, “A writer is someone who writes!” Pat envisioned writing workshops as a place where people could support one another’s new writing efforts, rather than tearing at each other’s writing out of some misguided competitive spirit (the sort that was often nurtured and encouraged in the sorts of writing workshops she encountered during her MFA program). And the model she developed is now in use all over the US, Canada, Ireland, and in Africa (in Malawai).

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taking care of all of our creative self

It’s a bird party outside my window this morning. The house finches have taken over the live oak and are demanding to be heard, demanding to be taken seriously. The are tangling with their small constituencies, assuring themselves of their song. They flit back and forth between bird feeder and branch, establishing intimacies and hierarchies, listening to belly and instinct. They bring some bright into the grey out there.

Good Friday morning to you. How has this week been treating you?

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If you’re in the Bay Area, don’t forget to come over to Berkeley tomorrow and join AWA West and PSR as we celebrate the launch of Pat Schneider‘s new book, How The Light Gets In: Writing As A Spiritual Practice. The event is free, and meets at the PSR campus at 1798 Scenic Ave. in Berkeley. The afternoon writing groups are full (though you can probably get your name on a waiting list if you hurry), but you can certainly join us for the reception and reading tomorrow evening. Pat will read from the book, and then she’ll have a conversation with Cary Tennis about Amherst Writers and Artists, writing practice, and so much more. Writing Ourselves Whole will have a table at the event — come on over and say hi if you’re able to make it! There are a few more copies of the Fierce Hunger chapbook left and I’ll have those available for sale, as well as information about the Summer workshop schedule. I hope to see you!

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This morning I got back into my notebook for the first time in about a week. I’d been feeling especially gross, all the inside voices telling me that it didn’t matter if I wrote, that my work doesn’t mean anything, that my time would be better spent with a bowl of chocolate frosting and some terrible television. Do you get the inside voices taking up all the space between your ears and around your heart? How do you take care of yourself  when they get especially loud and demanding? Continue reading

Coming up on April 27 — Meet Pat Schneider and write with AWA West!


(Jen’s note: I’ll be facilitating one of the workshops during the 2:30-4:30 workshop session; come on up and join us!)

Light Book CoverHow the Light Gets In – Writing Workshops and a Reading with Pat Schneider
Saturday, April 27

Celebrate!  A full day of celebration of the contributions of PSR alums Pat Schneider and her husband Peter – writers, teachers, theologians, and founders of Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA).

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recognizing what’s already helping

graffiti of a fat purple Italian eggplant

(ask someone from the first Declaring Our Erotic workshop about the importance of the eggplant picture…)

Good morning and good morning. Here in the southern part of northern California it’s bright this morning, if not clear, and sunny if not exactly warm. The puppy is enjoying the sunshine, and the puppy-mama is, too. How is it where you are? How is it with your heart?

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This Saturday is the 10th anniversary benefit and celebration for Writing Ourselves Whole! There are so many folks helping to bring this event together — donors and volunteers and writers offering their words for the sharing — though by far the one who deserves the most thanks is Renee Garcia, our program assistant and organizer extraordinaire. She is gathering together one hell of an event, and I am tremendously grateful to have her on our team.

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Winter 2012 Workshops — Here’s what’s coming up!

The new year is the time for a new dedication to your writing practice — and we’ve got a whole host of offerings, beginning in January and February, one of which might be just right for you or someone you love!

Please pass the word, and let me know if you’d like to join us! I’m looking forward to writing with you —

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Fall 2011 workshop schedule!

graffiti of a pink-purple pencil standing up next to a doorwayHello writers & writers-to-be!

We’ve got a few workshops coming up this month and next around Writing Ourselves Whole, and I’d love to write with you!

  • September 17: Writing the Flood
  • September 28: Erotic Reading Circle
  • Beginning October 3: Write Whole: Survivors Write: 8 Monday evenings, 6-8:30. Open to all women who are survivors of sexual trauma
    Registration is open — Please sign up early, and avoid that late-registration fee!
  • October 15: LitQuake’s LitCrawl! I get to participate in Carol Queen’s Good Vibrations reading again this year, during Phase 2 of the LitCrawl (7:15-8:15)
  • November 12: Reclaiming our Erotic Story (Sacramento)a daylong writing workshop (10am-5pm); open to writers of all genders and all sexual orientations!
  • November 13: Write Whole: Survivors Write (Sacramento)a daylong writing workshop (10am-5pm); open to survivors of all genders

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pay attention to what worked

Good morning! What does Wednesday look like where you are? Here it’s a walked puppy, sprawled on the floor, gnawing on a rope bone. Also: dandelion-tulsi-cardamom-and-anise tea and grey-but-blueing skies.

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It went ok, the test, the GRE. I think it went ok. Overall, I think actually went well. I think all the preparation was worth it. Those 3.5-4 hours flew by. There were answers I know I could have gotten that I didn’t manage to figure out, problems that I knew how to do that I choked on. I hate that feeling, and am frustrated, too, that I’m perseverance about what went wrong.

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