An announcement I just got regarding an upcoming Writers’ Workshop to be held in Boston in June 2010 jostled me into sending in this blog entry. I have known about this workshop for many years, but it was only last June (2009) that I was able to take it for the first time, and the experience blew me away. This turned out to be an invaluable experience for me as teacher, writer, and editor as well as personally and politically. Though I knew that another Radical Teacher editor, UMass—Boston teacher, friend, colleague, and a poet, has been attending it enthusiastically for years, my experience last summer went way beyond my expectations.
Offered by the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and its Social Consequences (at UMass—Boston), this workshop brings in writers from across the country and all walks and experiences of life, including Vietnam and now Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as well as civilian writers, filmmakers, and others from the U.S., Vietnam, and other war-torn regions. This two week program centers on specific workshops but also includes readings, performances, and panel discussions. Taken together, this two-weeks immersion is powerful, affirming ways the private and the public spheres are inextricable and have powerful social implications that include but also go beyond war and peace.
Founded initially in the wake of the Vietnam War, the Joiner Center provides educational opportunities and support for Veterans, archival and research resources, and many cultural activities. The Center’s commitment to critiquing war but supporting veterans, and doing so in relation to other social issues (e.g. ethnicity and gender), gives it a uniquely radical perspective and urgency.
Since I am working on a memoir about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, I took the memoir workshop offered jointly by Lady Borton and Demetria Martinez. Other friends took Bruce Weigel’s poetry workshop, Fred Marchand’s poetry workshop, and/or workshops focused on translation, the Bread and Puppet Theater (article forthcoming in RT # 89), digital text configurations, and more. People participating in the memoir workshop were of all ages, genders, and backgrounds, some experienced writers and some new, some grappling with personal writing but most writing from a more explicitly political place. The support and insights I got from this workshop were hugely important as they helped me deal with a difficult internal resistance and see how my work reaches others. The group as a whole came together powerfully during our mere two weeks together. Several of us continued meeting into the fall.
I do not mean this blog to be an advertisement; the Joiner Center gets more applicants than they can accommodate as is. But RT readers should know about this resource. Maybe I’ll meet one or another of you at the workshop?
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