2013 Writing Workshop with Dr. Anita Skeen
In Kevin Powers’ haunting novel, "The Yellow Birds," we encounter John Bartle and Daniel Murphy, two young soldiers caught up in a war that seems to proceed endlessly, and senselessly, no matter what they think or do. Physical survival is literally a matter of dodging bullets and avoiding bombs. Psychological survival becomes even harder when trying to piece the war into a pattern that becomes impossible, and the soldiers are painfully aware of how little control they have over their own lives.Promises are made that can’t be kept; individual choices are illusions as one choice is always contending with another.
When John Bartle is confined to a military prison, he returns to his memories to keep him company. “My first few months inside, I spent a lot of time trying to piece the war into a pattern. I developed the habit of making a mark on my cell wall when I remembered a particular event, thinking that at some later date I could refer to it and assemble all the marks into a story that made sense.” Like Bartle, who is unsuccessful at finding meaning in his fragmented and violent world, we, too, try to devise our own methods for bringing order from the chaos around us, for finding some pattern to our lives. Writing is one of the strategies we use to do this.
In this writing workshop, we will make some of those marks on the wall, looking back on memories, some puzzling, some portentous, that we must take into account if we are to understand the pattern of our lives. We’ll make those marks (lists of experiences), explore those marks (in poetry, fiction, memoir, or essay), and assemble those marks (the pattern we discover) in ways that will, hopefully, tell a story that makes sense.
Workshop Leader: Dr. Anita Skeen
Dates: September 11, 18, 25 (Wednesdays)
Time: Workshop #1: 4 to 6 p.m. or Workshop #2: 7 to 9 p.m.
Place: East Lansing Public Library, 950 Abbot Road
Workshop Reading Date: Wednesday, September 30, RCAH Theater, 7 p.m.
Call the East Lansing Public Library at (517) 351-2420 to register beginning Aug. 1. Space is limited.
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