Both of the Chautauqua Writers’ Center writers-in-residence for Week Eight were similarly inspired by the overarching theme: “The Forgotten: History and Memory in the 21st Century.”
Poet-in- residence Lillian-Yvonne Bertram will lead a workshop titled “Invoking What’s Forgotten in Our Poems,” and prose writer-in-residence, Toni Jensen, will teach a class called “The Forgotten Art: Revising Imagery and Language in Our Fiction.” Both authors will give public readings of their work at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, August 12, in the Hall of Philosophy.
Additionally, Paisley Rekdal will teach a master class, “Memorial Time: Poetry, Elegy and the War Memorial,” at 3:30 p.m. Monday, August 13, in the ballroom of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. Rekdal is the poet laureate of Utah and author of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection for Week Eight, Broken Country: On Trauma, a Crime and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam.
Bertram is the author of the poetry collections But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise, a slice from the cake made of air and Personal Science. She teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and is director of the pre-season Chautauqua Writers’ Festival, for which the 2018 theme was “Writing in Times of Crisis.”
Her workshop will be generative and incorporate strategies for accessing topics and modes of writing that may be forgotten.
“I like to think about memory and the sensory details of memory, and what might come to the surface if we immerse ourselves in, say, the realm of sound or the sensation of taste,” she said. “I hope that students carry away some poems that they are proud of, but also some strategies for accessing their various writing powers.”
In addition to being inspired by the weekly theme, Bertram said she sometimes forgets about past poems, and this workshop encourages her, and her students, to write outside of their “comfort zones.”
“Have you ever had the experience of realizing that you forgot you knew something about language?” she said. “This happens to me sometimes, and I am interested in how those moments can be fruitful and generative and how they remind me of what really interests me about language.”
Jensen is the author of a story collection, From the Hilltop. She teaches at the University of Arkansas and Institute of American Indian Arts, and was previously a writer-in-residence in 2011.
Jensen said that in the drafting and editing process, most writers focus on developing and revising plot and character.
“(But) how plot and character come to life on the page is through language choices and images,” she said.
With that in mind, her workshop will start with images and diction, or the “micro level,” she said.
According to Jensen, oftentimes, writers have an overall idea of their work, but forget to savor the moment.
“To fully embody a character (and) have that experience when you’re reading, and you just feel like the whole world falls away,” she said, “(you must be) able to fully inhabit the scenes and the characters moment to moment to moment when you’re writing.”
Both writers will give Brown Bags this week. Bertram will deliver hers at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday,August 14, and Jensen will give her lecture at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, August 17, both at the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. Rekdal will deliver her CLSC Roundtable at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 14, in the Hall of Philosophy.