Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Therapy, Instruction, or Sadism?

Creative-writing programs are designed on the theory that students who have never published a poem can teach other students who have never published a poem how to write a publishable poem. The fruit of the theory is the writing workshop, a combination of ritual scarring and twelve-on-one group therapy where aspiring writers offer their views of the efforts of other aspiring writers.

Read the rest of Louis Menand in The New Yorker.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

You left masochism out of the description... :)

I know I'm jumping in late but wanted to take some time to read thru the article. And the points th author makes are good ones. Although never pursued an MFA program, I have attended workshops locally. More often than not, it was simply an opportunity for writers to read their work out loud. Whether any helpful criticism to be had was questionable - and in the competitive arena that a workshop turns into, it can be quite biting.

The point made, as the author states,is that you can't truly teach "writing". The talent, abilities, and insights are built into the DNA of the artist - whether writer, photographer, painter, woodworker, etc.

But what a participant can get is a sense of community and craft. A sense of caring about what you're creating and what others create.

And being exposed to some incredible talent that you can learn from...

- Jeff