January 24, 2018
$315 | 8 Weeks
For poets, novelists, flash writers, essayists and memoirists. For any writer who wants to root their writing in vision and their vision in the body.
Allen Ginsberg taught Marc Olmsted how to write poetry and Marc is passing on what he learned, contributing to a lineage that stretches back through Ginsberg to Walt Whitman.
Sketching is Jack Kerouac’s term for recording images seen and the associations and memories they invoke with a snapshot-like technique of minute particulars and attention to the words that convey them precisely rather than with “editorial” language (generalities of object and emotion).
Sketching can be done in fiction, journal or poetry. Its form is primarily prose, but is easily adapted to poetry by breaking the line if one chooses. Sketching has a strong, vital application in modern “flash” (brief) fiction and non-fiction. The class aims more toward process than form. So you can use verse, prose poems, flash – maybe also journal entries, letters, scribbles on napkins, letters? Welcome – poets, fiction writers and journal keepers – Word people all!
What winds up happening in paying attention to the “haiku moments” of our existence is a rediscovery of our world with a sense of wonder. By this appreciation without grasping, we come awake in the sacred, present already in the details and images of our lives but generally lost through inattention. We develop a stronger presence and grow new eyes and ears. And, like all great poets and writers, we root of our words in our bodies and senses as well as our spirits.
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: Snapshots
Some selections of Ginsberg’s American Sentences and haiku.
Assignment: take some eyeball snapshots, either in haiku or word “sketch” of inner and outer “scenery.”
Week Two: Eye & the Haiku
Kerouac said, “Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better.” Snapshot poetics. Excerpts from Williams, Whalen, Basho, Richard Wright, Kerouac, Pound, di Prima, Ginsberg, the 6th Dalai Lama and Ikkyu, with discussion.
Assignment: Here’s a Ginsberg exercise: “Stop in tracks once a day, take account of sky, ground & self, write three verses haiku.”
Week Three: Transforming into Sketching
Excerpts from Pound, Snyder, Kerouac and Burroughs with discussion.
Assignment: Try using “sketching” in capturing day-to-day life and/or nightworld dreams. Really think of it like literally sketching – you are trying to work primarily with images, sounds, smells, and sensations of skin and taste. Avoid “editorial language” or judgment of any kind. No need to comment or be clever or literary.
Week Four: Books of Sketches, Haiku Bones, Books of Dreams
Kerouac’s Book of Sketches and Book of Haikus were both published after his death, although many of his scattered haiku appeared in other publications. Sketches is exactly that, “Written On the Little Pages in the Notebooks I Carried in My Breast Pocket 1952 Summer to 1954 December.” The haiku speak for themselves.
Assignment: Given these new influences, continue sketching in whatever direction best suits you.
Week Five: Re-vision
What is the place of revision in a poetics that celebrates “first thought” and spontaneity? How did a master like Ginsberg go about it? Samples of my own work before and after Ginsberg’s critique. Discussion.
Assignment: Editing your poems based on samples and suggestions.
Week Six: Flashes of Ecology
Interdependence. All sentient beings have been your kitten. Ginsberg’s Wales Visitation.
Assignment: Write the most panoramic inclusive poem you can; include as many details of your immediate experience. What is living in front of your eyes? In your body? What’s there you can’t see?
Week Seven: Flashing on Death
What happens? One of the greatest itches and subjects of literature. Ginsberg’s Kaddish, On Neal’s Ashes, Death and Fame, On Cremation of Chogyam Trungpa, Vidyadhara, “What would you do if you lost it?”
Assignment: Write a poem like you’re on your deathbed. Who and what do you want to tell?
Week Eight: 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.)