Plumbing the Past: Turning Life Experience into Poetry, Flash and Creative Non-Fiction
with Tina Barry
In this 4-week workshop, we’ll dig deep into the rituals that are imprinted on our personal histories, while studying narrative poets, short fiction and creative non-fiction writers, and even food writers. We’ll write with an ear toward rhythm, encouraging humor, and paying careful attention to image as it influences, colors and serves as an emotional placeholder in your work.
In this class, students will:
- Write and workshop four pieces.
- Use prompts to transform experiences and memories into fresh, new writing.
- Write with no pre-conceived idea of genre. In this workshop, you’ll let the language lead you to the final form.
- Find new ways to source language that will enrich and freshen your work.
- Note: All levels are welcome.
Tina is by far one of the best poetry teachers I’ve had—online or elsewhere.
Plumbing the Past: Turning Life Experience into Poetry, Flash and Creative Non-Fiction: Syllabus
Week 1: Obsession
How do you turn your obsession for azure blue sweaters or bittersweet chocolate into poetry and short fiction? Maybe you want to stop scrolling your old lover’s Facebook page and turn the wasted time into a poem?
For our first week together, we’ll study writers who have used whatever drives them to distraction, and turned it into compelling poetry, prose poems and short fiction.
Week 2: Oh, Mother. Oh, Father
Relationships with our parents can be beautiful. Or not. It isn’t easy being a mother or a father, and it isn’t easy deciding not to become a parent.
Dig out your old journals, photo albums, or just fire up those wincing moments at the shopping mall. In week two, we’ll read the work of writers who have wrestled those touching, confounding, damning experiences onto the page. You’ll do it too.
Week 3: A Flash in the Pan
Food = memory, intention and emotion. All of the ingredients that make our writing distinctly your own.
In week three, you’ll read work that will not only help you access your memories around the table, at the food truck, and on the picnic blanket, but acknowledge and give voice to the emotions tied to those experiences and how they’ve come to define who you are.
Week 4: I’m in Love with the Shape of Me
Our bodies. They’ve been idolized, politicized and demonized. Unadorned and inked. They’ve been skinny, fat, and everything in between.
In our final week, we’ll “Sing to the Body Electric,” writing poems that, as Whitman said, “these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul.”
Bonus Unit: On Publishing
Sourcing publications to help you find a good fit for your work, what to include and not include in your cover letter, and how to write a bio (no, it’s not a resume) will be discussed.
Student Feedback for Tina Barry:
Tina Barry is an outstanding teacher who is always responsive and supportive. Throughout the course she helped us grow as writers through suggestions and comments that conveyed respect and care. Kathleen Thomas
Tina is wonderful at giving very detailed feedback to us as soon as we posted our work. Her input on my writing was very helpful. Lori McDonald
I've taken several online courses with Tina Barry, and she is by far one of the best poetry teachers I've had—online or elsewhere. The assigned readings for each lesson were stimulating and varied, and her prompts inspired some of my best poems. She was quick to respond with insightful, clarifying and concise edits and comments - her ability to read the poems on many levels deepened my understanding of my own work. She has an exquisite ear for language and the musicality of a line, and craft-wise, her thoughtful feedback not only helped me to improve the poems I submitted to the workshop but also carried over to the way I continue to write and re-write my poems. Elizabeth Burk
A+ Again! Tina's classes always inspire poems for me... she's one of my favorite all-time teachers. Susan Vespoli
Tina did an excellent job of both helping us generate ideas and providing feedback. The feedback by the teacher and students helped me improve my poems in surprising and interesting ways. I found it helpful to hear what was striking or moving in the poem, or what was confusing. The prompts were helpful in generating new ideas for poems as well! Pat LaDouceur
Tina was great—her feedback was thorough, thoughtful, and enthusiastic. She did a wonderful job of highlighting strengths and identifying weaknesses in a useful way. Tina Siegel
I had an enriching experience these past four weeks. The other participants were excellent writers, willing to comment, and share ideas. Tina, of course, had excellent suggestions all of which I've already incorporated into the pieces written during the course. I was able to overcome a months-long dry spell, suddenly writing about minutia I might otherwise have overlooked. It certainly feels great to break through my writer's block. My fingers are flying over the keyboard and scribbling with pen in my journal. Thanks again to Tina and Writer's.com for making this hot, COVID-filled summer productive and enjoyable. Sharon Thompson
Tina Barry excels to the highest level. Her lessons and assignments are always engaging and thought-provoking. Tina creates an atmosphere that inspires and encourages all of us to be both daring and focused. I have been in several of Tina’s workshops; in each one my writing and commitment to writing has deepened from her guidance, support and respect for me and all participants. Kathleen Thomas
My experience was great! The group was very engaging. Tina was exceptional. Crystal Manboard
Tina's suggestions to all the participants was respectful and helpful. I feel like I know her now! The alternate prompts she offered for each lesson helped me find the inspiration to begin that writing assignment. Charlotte Randolph
Too many workshops are led by poets who know how to publish, but cannot teach or lead. Tina Barry does all of the above brilliantly, giving lesser beings hope that their words matter, because they matter so much to her. She refuses to be boring, and presses you—no, dares you—not to be either. Pamela Brown
A workshop with Tina Barry has always been a memorable and valuable investment in my writing life. The depth of Tina's preparation is evident from the start. Throughout the workshops, Tina stays in contact with every participant with excellent and challenging critiques and comments. I have never been disappointed. CR Green
What makes Tina stands out as a teacher, my teacher last year, is her capacity to combine deep knowledge of form, craft, and an eye for pointing to what may make your poems better. During the class I took with her, I benefited as much by the keen comments she offered to the other students, as her comments on my poems. It was an education in itself. Her commitment to her students is as deep as her commitment to teaching excellence. Tina is an avid listener to your words, respecting and pushing you to your best work. Juan Mobili
I have taken several classes from Tina Barry and found them stimulating and exciting. They are of the highest caliber, for she encourages us to look at new ways of writing, examining ourselves and translating thoughts into poetry. I have saved her lessons, which have encouraged me to continue my quest for becoming a better poet and writer. Her comments have always been thorough, considerate, encouraging and complete. I continue to seek her out because of her expertise. Elizabeth Kirkpatrick-Vrenios, Professor Emerita, American University
I enjoyed Tina's classes and found that her excellent insights and group leadership skills combined to give me new themes and knowledge for writing. She is always available for an immediate response to students' questions and observations. I really like her flexibility in encouraging independent, differing writing styles. Karen Waldron