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201 W. Mifflin Street
Madison, WI

April 2016

creative process and play / lauren russell

The poet Harryette Mullen says, “From childhood on, I’ve associated poetry with games and puzzles, with singing and dancing, with codes and ciphers, with riddles and rhymes. I’ve never lost that sense of play and pleasure in making poetry.” How can writers’ work change if they shift from a product-oriented lens to a process-oriented one? What happens if you abandon your original intention for a poem or move beyond that vision? In the spirit of “play and pleasure,” we will focus more attention on how we write than on what write—and begin to think about the relationship between content and form. Through individual and collaborative writing activities, play with found texts, and ekphrastic exercises using the library gallery, participants will have the opportunity to try a variety of approaches to poem making. As readers, we will engage with a few published poems each week, considering how a poem does what it does, not just what it means or says, and what we can “steal” from the authors to inform our own creative practices. Intended for both experienced poets and people who do not think of themselves as writers at all, the only requirements are a willingness to have fun, take risks, and sometimes “fail” as you explore new modes of making.

Class consists of instruction and writing exercises. 3 sessions, 1.5 hours each.

Instructor: Lauren Russell has taught writing courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at the University of Pittsburgh, where she received a Distinguished Teaching Award in the English Department. Russell’s first full-length book, What’s Hanging on the Hush, will be out from Ahsahta Press in 2017. She is the author of the chapbook Dream-Clung, Gone (Brooklyn Arts Press), and her poems have appeared in Better, boundary 2, jubilat, Ping•Pong, and Tarpaulin Sky, among others. Her reviews may be found in Aster(ix), The Volta, Jacket2, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and has received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, Cave Canem, and VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.

Saturdays April 9, 16 & 23 from 3:00-4:30pm

Central Library

Free with advance registration

For ages 15+

Maximum enrollment: 15

Registration for this class is open and remain open throughout the duration of the class

Each workshop is free with advance registration. We encourage you to attend all consecutive sessions with the instructor, but it is not mandatory. Registration will open one month before the first session. Once each class fills, there will be a short wait list. If you have any questions about signing up for classes, please contact volunteer workshop coordinator, Aaron Fai at

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.