Instant Book Workshop (using writing and drawing)




Instant Book/Poem Workshop

I saw a presentation at AWP last year in which the presenter discussed a workshop activity that I’m somewhat basing this on. The presenter’s activity wasn’t quite like this, but it involved using many steps, writing, drawing, and folding the 8-page book. The photographs here show a book written/drawn by Kelly McQuain.

When trying this out with friends, I introduced the idea that the writing would involve writing and drawing and involve writing about place.

Before the first drawing step, we discussed “outside/inside” places we remembered from childhood

The writing/drawing process went roughly like this:

1. Draw an outside/inside place (using half the paper).
(Using nice paper is fun; and providing colored pencils, markers, etc. is good, too)
2. Draw things in boxes (using other half of paper).
3. On a different piece of paper, write. Consider these quotations from Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space:

“The tick tock of our watches is so mechanically jerky that we no longer have ears subtle enough to hear the passage of time.”

“From being imagined, calm becomes an emergence of being.”

4. Fold the paper with drawing into an eight-page book.
Here are the best/easiest directions I have found for this folding process–

5. Going back to the drawing, write a poem (thinking about as story is okay too) about how we inhabit and interpret space. Use the drawing, writing, and quotation.

Writing Prompt: Spirit of Place

Writing Prompt–Spirit of Place (by Valerie Fox)

Here’s an exercise for writing about a place. Choose a place that’s important to you (emotionally resonant) or simply very memorable.

Step 1
Make a list of questions (10 plus) about each of the following:

Your town or hometown
One or more houses you have lived in
One room in the house (or each of the houses) you have lived in)

Answer these questions in detail.

Step 2
Locate one or more artifacts relating to your writing.
Include words and descriptions based on this in your next draft of your poem.

Step 3
After some time has passed, return to your writing. Try to convey the sense of the place through the language and syntax of your poem. Try to reorganize the ideas, stanzas, or images. (Try something completely different from the original order.)

For discussion–
How is the spirit of place being hinted at or pictured?
Are you using place names and other proper nouns? If so, how and why?

Here’s a phenomenal resource, the Poetry Atlas, for writers and teachers: