Creation Nation: A Week in the Advanced Poetry Classroom

Poetry and LEGOs, Weigel Library, College of Architecture, Planning, and Design

In the ENGL 663 “Advanced Creative Writing: Poetry” class this semester, we have focused on developing a reading practice, a writing practice, and a strong sense of community. We’ve written fan letters to the poets we’ve read; students have taught great books to each other through a variety of exercises; and we have written and workshopped large groups of poems as a class.

One of the amazing authors we read in class, Danez Smith, said in a podcast that writing programs often make you choose between writing and living, so when I thought of my course design for advanced poetry, I wanted to see how my class could offer both experiences and the creative rigor that often leads to good writing.

To close out the semester, the class practiced the art of collaborative exercises so that we could celebrate the community we have become over the course of the semester. Last week, through the “Collaboration Jubilation” assignment, students completed the following “Collaboration Stations” as a class before they got to design their own.


On Monday we met in Hale Library and wandered the stacks with our writing partner, looking at random books to come up with a vocabulary list. We then synced our music playing devices and danced in the stacks…really. We were then asked to sit in silence for a few minutes before following the assigned writing prompt.





On Wednesday, we met at the Chapman Gallery in Willard Hall to write portraits of our new writing partner. Unfortunately, it was closed. Most of us chose to go to Waters to look at the entomology displays and follow our writing prompts, but instead of writing portraits of our partners as works of art, we wrote their portraits as hissing cockroaches and morpho butterflies.





On Friday, we met in the library of Regnier Hall to play with their abundance of Legos. We built structurally unsound but very creative buildings and then selected Lego figures and followed the assigned writing prompt (love letters from one Lego person to another that utilize instructions since Legos come with instructions). And those cool creations are now on display in the Weigel Library at Regnier!




This week, while I’m traveling to give readings of my work, students are creating the rules of their own collaborations, going out to other places on campus and in to the community to have experiences and write from them.

I’m excited to see where they go and what they write, to discover the ways in which they’ve created experiences and art, unifying those two important aspects of a writing life together.

Traci Brimhall, Assistant Professor


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