Saturday, February 07, 2009

To Be of Use: Writing as Crafty Work

A Sustainable Writing Lab Workshop with moi ;-)

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 12:30 - 2:00 pm, room HNES 142 at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University.

Hegemonic common sense trains people to believe that writing somehow exists apart from reading - that these are two separate acts. And yet one cannot exist without the other. Light needs dark, work needs play, meat needs salt (or so says an old folktale), a speaker needs a listener, and writing needs reading. These phenomena are co-creations. So, a writer needs a reader. But as Eduardo Galeano writes in "In Defense of the Word",

One writes out of a need to communicate and to commune with others, to denounce that which gives pain and to share that which gives happiness. One writes against one's solitude and against the solitude of others. One assumes that literature transmits knowledge and affects the behavior and language of those who read, thus helping us to know ourselves better and to save ourselves collectively.

The "usefulness" of our writing is always multivalent, directed inwardly and outwardly. To whom do we write? And who do we think we are, we who dare write? Are we worker? Craftsperson? Technician? Clown?

I propose that we all wish "to be of use" as Marge Piercy suggests in her poem named thus. In this session we will explore the constellation of forces that influence/govern our identity as writer and the effect we wish to have (or think we have) on the world. Using a few playful exercises we will generate texts that speak to this dynamic, tricky, necessary, imbricated ('cause i've always just want to use that in a sentence) inter-relation of self and other, writer and reader, performer and audience.

About the Sustainable Writing Lab:
Located in HNES Rm. 250, the Sustainable Writing Lab is a computer and information resource centre for those interested in environmental literature, ecocriticism, and other topics related to writing and the environment, and environmental studies. There are a number of SWL laptops Ph.D. students can access individually, or use for larger group projects.

(just catching up on blogging while my head is afflicted with a cold that has me blowing my nose every 90 seconds - oy! I appreciate this invitation from the SWL to lead a session on writing. I've been a participant of a few sessions and enjoyed every single one. The above-image is from - a wonderful source of copyright-free artwork bequeathed to social movements by Rini Templeton.)


Anonymous said...

Hope your cold is better soon!

Chris cavanagh said...

Thank-you, Lilian.

My head feels stuffed with soggy cotton. Ick! Hard, even, to rest. Though i did manage to take the wee miss to see Inkheart - a real book-lovers movie - i was quite taken with it. And my nose and sinuses must have been in solidarity for they relented, for a while at least, on their incessant dripping. Though my eyes burn, it is yet more comfortable to sit up in front of a computer than to lie prone and feel like a giant, over-stuffed circus float. Double ick!