April 5, 2016
$360 | 10 Weeks
Open only to writers who have previously taken a class with Marc Olmsted. The class is meant to help refine the skills that separate beginners from the people publishing their work regularly and is thus best for those with writing experience.
We will bring together poem, memoir, journal and prose into a record of one’s experience, whether during the 10 weeks of the class, or using memories of one’s whole life.
I love writers.com. Marc's lectures were very detailed and informative and I enjoyed them. His assignments were very specific and detail oriented. I learned to pay attention to detail in my writing and also grounding my writing, which is really what the class was all about I think. I learned to be patient when writing and also how to revise, especially when to stop. Marc's lessons and mentoring have translated to my other writing as well. I'm not sure how he did it (maybe it was magic), but I have produced so many quality poems during those 10 weeks that I have material to send off for quite a while. I have also been published twice already, and was published within three weeks from my very first submission. That was the other thing I liked about Marc's class, we sent our work out. He showed us how to do it, and that was the push that I needed. I took my first class in September and then Marc's, it has made all the difference in my life. So Thank You to all of you. I feel that writers.com really does care about their students. Thanks... Susan Furst
I wanted to let you know that I just wrapped "The Poet's Path" class with Marc Olmstead. It was an amazing experience! I had no idea to expect from a poetry class, but it was a truly rich experience. Marc provided us with simple tools and deep reflections along the way; it was almost like following a trail of breadcrumbs and before we knew it, we arrived at a place where we were creating/recognizing poetry. I hope to take a follow up class with Marc in the near future. Even though I do not fancy myself a poet, I think the experience of the class has added a great dimension to my every day writing. Marc is an inspiration...Arnie Doyle
I thought the class content/ lessons and assignments were great. They were educational, fun to do, and easy to manage each week. The lectures were excellent. I keep going back to them for insight. ...Marc was just great. He replied to everyone's assignment- and even followed up regarding questions. He knows his stuff! I recommend Marc's class to friends. Every time I talk about the class I light up with a smile. Writers.com is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to practice the art of writing. Top notch educators, lectures, assignments, and top notch class mates. I will continue to take these university level writing classes Writers.com offers... Laura Barrick
Marc is an amazing teacher. I loved the way he would edit our work to just those few necessary words. He encouraged everyone to keep writing even when we didn't have time or thought we didn't have much to say... I'm actually going to re-take this class because there was so much there and I want to keep the momentum going. It's not just about the writing either. I'm feeling a little shy about this but the class actually changed me...opened up something in me that wasn't open before... Getting stuff published on the poetry superhighway was a neat thing... Cyndry Krey
Prior to Marc's class I had never written any type of poetry and did not know what to expect. Because of my inexperience, the first few poems that I submitted were awful because I was trying to be profound and write like I thought poetry should be written. However, Marc was very patient and did an excellent job of encouraging me to just write about everyday life experiences in the moment. Once I started writing about the moment and stopped trying to be profound, I started looking forward to the writing assignments. By the end of the class I was able to take some of my writing and form them into poems that were meaningful to me. This growth felt huge. This growth was due to Marc's patience and guidance. I would encourage others to take his class. Bruce Pickens
Marc takes an objectivist approach to his lectures which are delicately draped in poetic lineage, finally picked quotes and excerpts, and wild the out-of-the-box assignments. After finishing both Writing Kerouac/Sitting Buddha and Mind Breaths, I can candidly say that the experience has transformed my love and play for poetry but also has reprogrammed (in a good way) the way I look at literature and life. My mind was stretched in different ways by Marc's clear comments [and] also through lively in-class discussions. It is the perfect class for any poet or student looking to refine their knowledge... I could not be more pleased. It was just an added bonus to have a few poems published at the end of the course. Chaz Southard
I just wanted to write an email to express my appreciation to writers.com. I just completed Marc Olmsted's "Write like Kerouac, Sit like Buddha"- it was an inspiring and productive 10 weeks. Olmsted served as a well of information and insight, sharing his personal experiences as a friend and student of Ginsberg, a student of buddhism and a practtitioner of spontaneous poetics! The weekly lectures and lessons were lucid, instructive and often, fun! His feedback on work submitted by the class always focused on finding the poem- sometimes through major editing suggestions- he seemed to nail it every time! Thanks! Genevieve Legacy
I think most of us were pretty clear on this with Marc - Stunningly good. In partcular, the lectures gave me content I could never have gotten elsewhere. I told everybody here about it. The assignments ... allowed us to have wide ranging discussions and get great feedback from Marc. ... Marc is a great poet and a great instructor. I have taken writing courses (though not online) and have gven them up because the one really good teacher I ever found passed away. The rest however never even came close to Marc. Very VERY good. I will definitly sign up for the January course with Marc...I appreciate what you have done here. Quality at a decent price. Thanks. David Tilley
I LOVED this class. I found my voice and the best way to express it. Marc's lectures were inspiring, thought provoking, and sometimes a kick in the rear. His direction and guidance fabulous. I can't wait to take his next class!! I've actually submitted work - and am now awaiting the responses! Peggy Bell
I took the course with the intention of bettering my understanding of the Beat generation, their aesthetic, the way in which they practiced writing. The class did exactly this. Marc has an intimate understanding of the Beats and practices their principles in his own writing. In addition, his last lecture made the daunting task of sending off material to likely publishers easy--a nice bonus for me! Lisa McCool-Grime
Marc is a very supportive instructor. I particularly liked that he responded to our writing regularly and promptly. It helped keep me connected. I very much liked the readings and the lessons that came from them. They helped me see a new way of looking at writing poetry in general and at my work in particular. The class helped free me of some of the roadblocks I had built up unawares. I plan to take Marc's other poetry class some time in the near future. Cheri Ause
The class content was fantastic and the teacher rocks. One of the best I have ever had. Again five stars for Marc, Word Flashes, Writers.com etc.!!!!!! Jana Mackin
Marc was funny, engaging, and very positive! I really enjoyed the content . The exercises got me to focus more, sketch more, loosen my grasp.... I already have told others about your classes and have taken other classes! I love writers.com..... So supportive, so interesting, such great teachers. Thanks! Katherine Arnup
In the beginning I was a bit overwhelmed but I thought [Marc's] attentiveness and willingness to understand and really go the extra mile with each student was quite extraordinary. I felt he took an interest in each student in a very profound way and made an effort to come to grips with the strengths and weaknesses of each one in a way that was encouraging, supportive, and honest. I think Marc Olmstead is an excellent mentor with a rare ability to create a space for building on and expanding individual consciousness and expression. Melody Emmett
I am happily going back to Marc's class from time to ime as long as he offers them - even if the assingment material is the same. Marc is my muse. Miho KinnasI'd like to say that Marc really made me feel like I could write poetry, something I never would have imagined I had the talent to do. And because of this realization I feel like I found the 'right' form of writing, genre?, that I am comfortable in and it makes me want to keep writing. That's a great thing for a teacher to do, I think! Jeannie Pasch
In Marc Olmsted's, Beginner Poetry, the lessons and assignments were direct, fun and open ended, providing both structure and freedom. As a beginner I felt safe(enough) to take chances, to express myself and to be playful! I have never been able to express myself comfortably in writing so this is new and I don't think another teacher or course would put me where I am right now. I plan to take your next course, Marc. You have been specific, inspiring, kind and generous in your lectures and feedback. My DEEPEST gratitude. Denise Sklar
I LOVED being in class with Marc Olmsted again! In fact the week class ended, I submitted three poems to Rick Lupert's Poetry Superhighway and two of them were published! I'm the Poet of Week for the week of January 17-23, 2011! This is my 6th or 7th class with Writers.com - and yes, I'll be taking another class soon. Peggy Nolan
I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the class content, progression through assignments and Marc's comments. He did a fantastic job with the lectures and the final lecture, "send it out" was as good of an argument for the purpose of art eg writing as I've ever heard. Great teacher. Very accessible. Very talented. Beautiful writing. I'd like to take another of Marc's courses. Tim Wiegand
I think Marc is an excellent teacher. [He] always provided prompt and pointed feedback. The swiftness of his replies encouraged many students to revise and improve their work.I found the content, lessons, and assignments most satisfactory. By the end of the course, I felt equipped to continue writing in a variety of genres and styles. I would certainly recommend Marc's courses to a friend or peer. Angela Eward-Mangione
Week One: First Thought/Best Thought (Again)
Ginsberg’s teacher Trungpa Rinpoche suggested this phrase as a writing approach. Mindfulness separates art from mediocrity. The Divine Madman and the Void as Great Mother. Excerpts by H.H. Dudjom Lingpa, Robert Bly, Anne Waldman, Lenore Kandel, Aleister Crowley, Ramakrishna and Chogyam Trungpa with discussion. Assignment: Describe a vivid experience or dream in straightforward language anyone can understand. All references, whether personal or even TV shows, need to be described to a stranger as if they were reading it 100 years in the future.
Week Two: Genius All the Time
Kerouac said “You’re a Genius all the time.” True or not, what might such an outrageous sacred view do for writer’s block and insecurity? Excerpts by Kerouac and Tibetan poet-masters Milarepa and Longchenpa with discussion. Assignment: Have you ever tried to draw without looking at the page? Try writing in the same manner. As Dylan said, “Don’t look back.”
Week Three: Breath
How the oral tradition of poetry continues on the written page. Excerpts from Ginsberg, Whitman, Melville, Thomas Wolfe, Neal Cassady and Shelly with discussion. Assignment: Take a piece of literature you admire and try reading it out loud. Read your own poetry out loud. Did your sense of the material change? Sit for five minutes. Afterward, sit comfortably, eyes open and intone the sound AHHHHH as a single note. After you get a little tired of “chanting,” sit quietly for a short time, then write about what you experienced and what you are experiencing now.
Week Four: Love
The manifestation of wisdom Bodhisattva Chenrezig. His visualization and mantra. The Green Automobile, Contest of Bards. Assignment: Write a love poem, whether past, present or anticipated future. Same instructions as above, grounded in simple physical experience of body and phenomena. No flowery Hallmark card language.
Week Five: Sex
Just the Facts: The Great Passion: Discussion of Buddhist Tantra. The Blues. Howl, Please Master. Assignment: Rhymed Blues. Take one sentence more or less 10 syllables, rhyme the end word two times more, compose two or three stanzas (see examples in lecture). EXTRA CREDIT: Write a sex poem no one has to see, either experience or fantasy. No editorial language. Submit this only if you want.
Week Six: Candor
The merit of confession. Howl, Ego Confession. Assignment: 3-Line Poem – 1) What’s your neurotic confusion? 2) What do you really want, desire? 3) What do you notice right where you are now? EXTRA CREDIT: Write your worst secret that no one has to see. Make friends with it, forgive yourself and hope to do better if necessary. Submit this only if you want.
Week Seven: Politics
The practice of Tong-Len (breathing in other’s suffering, exhaling compassion), the Bodhisattva Vow. Shelley’s “Mask of Anarchy” and Williams’ “Impromptu, the Suckers” reprinted in Loka II with Ginsberg’s commentary. Wichita Vortex Sutra, Plutonian Ode. Assignment: Write a political poem without preaching to the choir, grounded in your experience and observation. No editorial (non-image) language.
Week Eight: Space
Sacred view. Ginsberg’s early Blake vision. Creator God vs. Clear Empty Space. The Lion For Real, Why I Meditate. Assignment: Consider your most sacred moment. Write a poem about it without any traditional spiritual language. No words like “ineffable.”
Week Nine: On the Page
Final draft. From the notebook to the page. What arrangements of line might be considered or determined by original notation? Samples of my own work and others with discussion. Assignment: Make decisions about arrangement on the page according to what has been discussed: length of “breath”, mental pause or division of mental ideas, and in particular, conditions of original notation, i.e. what it looked like when you first wrote it.
Week Ten: Sending It Out
The manuscript, the chapbook, the webzine. Assignment: Send it out to the various places listed, including one “impossibility” of your choice. (American Poetry Review, etc.)