• 2018 Dates: Session 1, June 24 - July 6; Session 2, July 8-27

  • Look here for the 2018 Student Application after January 1.

Introducing Sara Brickman, Poetry Faculty

In what ways does the concept of convergence play a role in your writing life &/or writing process?

As writers, we spend so much time waiting for the right idea to show up. We sit down at the blank page or computer screen and hope the muse will arrive. We have to work to invite her in of course, by writing even when we don’t have anything to say, even when we know what we’re writing sucks, even when we know it’s close, but not right. We also have to believe that we can make the ideas ourselves, that so-called inspiration, while it’s out there, is not the only way to get to an interesting piece of writing.

But in order to create, we also have to consume. Author Julia Cameron calls this “filling the well.” We draw on our own resources and energies in creating art, and we have to replenish those energies. We can do this through reading, going for a walk in nature, or to a museum. We can do it by cooking a meal or talking with a friend. Her point—and mine—is that art and its creation isn’t only something we do when we sit down to create.

Think of your writing brain as a radio you can tune in, and try fiddling with it a couple of times each day. As it becomes more finely tuned, moments, images, and snippets of language will begin to appear to you more readily. For example, many of my recent poems have grown out of newspaper articles or weird facts I come across online. I don’t consider it my job to tell the same story the article might tell, instead, I let that headline and the language (or even the form of the newspaper article) lead me in new and unexpected directions. Often, these news stories or facts end up being a framework for me to write about my own life, but they give me a refreshing way to do that. When the mess of ordinary things converges with our aesthetically tuned minds, glorious things can happen. Try fiddling with your radio and see where it leads you, and be willing to follow the idea, even if it seems weird or out of your comfort zone. With practice, you’ll start finding new ideas everywhere you look.

SARA BRICKMAN, author, performer, and community organizer from Ann Arbor, MI, was named the winner of the Split This Rock Poetry Contest by Natalie Diaz. She is a 4Culture grant recipient and has attended Bread Loaf, Tent, and TILL Writers Convergence. Her work appears in Indiana Review, Muzzle, Shift, The New, and the anthology Courage: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls. Sara has been featured on Button Poetry and collaborated with musicians Mary Lambert and Hollis Wong-Wear. She has taught at universities, high schools, and community organizing projects nationwide. She is currently a Henry Hoyns Fellow and MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Virginia.