“Don’t Be Afraid of Its Plenty: Writing About Joy ”
A One-Day Workshop with Edwina Trentham
This workshop will be offered in two different locations:
Saturday, October 20, 2012, in Moodus, Connecticut: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Saturday, November 10, 2012, in Madison, Connecticut: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Some say it is easier to write about sorrow, about loss, than it is to write about joy, delight, fulfillment. Perhaps this is because we need to explore the “why” of suffering, while we are content to simply be in the moment of joy. There are many different ways to write about joy, however. In “Don’t Hesitate,” a prose poem included in her book Swan, Mary Oliver advises us: “If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it,” and adds that we should not be “afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.” Jane Hirshfield, in “The Dead Do Not Want Us Dead,” written four days after 9/11, focuses on the simple joys of being alive, when she writes: “Return one of them, any one of them, to the earth, / and look: such foolish skipping, such telling of bad jokes, such feasting!” And Gerard Manley Hopkins writes ecstatically of spring’s “juice and joy,” while Li Young Lee’s quiet and beautiful rumination on love “The Gift” captures a deep sense of joy, as he watches his father’s “lovely face” and kisses him in gratitude at the end. In this workshop, we will take on the challenge of writing about joy in ways that capture the complexities of that intense emotion, exploring different ways of giving in to joy, as Mary Oliver suggests, and working toward capturing the “plenty” of joy as powerfully as many of us have learned to bring loss and sorrow to vivid life in our work. I will be sending an exercise ahead of time to participants, as well as providing a handout of poems, and hopefully participants will send suggestions for poems to add to that handout.
Participants will bring a potluck dish to share. Coffee, tea, and cookies will be provided. Each workshop is limited to twelve participants, and the cost per workshop is $100.00.
Edwina Trentham is a Professor Emeritus of English at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Connecticut, where she still teaches creative writing, various poetry courses, and also edits the poetry journal, Freshwater, which she founded and which is in its fourteenth year of publication. She was also a Visiting Instructor in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at Wesleyan University from 1988 through 2005. She has been a fellow at Yaddo and has published her work in a number of periodicals and anthologies. Her poetry has won many awards, including honorable mention in the 2004 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival National Competition, and she has given readings and workshops throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. A collection of her poetry, Stumbling into the Light, was published by Antrim House in 2004, and she was a featured reader at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival in June 2005. She won a 2010 Solo Writers Fellowship awarded by the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and her chapbook, written with the Solo Fellowship’s support, won honorable mention in the 2011 Comstock Review Chapbook Contest.