In this series of practice-oriented writing classes, we will investigate the nature of a writer’s experience at the interface of language and consciousness. Each class will include creative and contemplative components. This class will start with the practices of the Modernists and move through a brief tour of select spiritual writing methods and schools to arrive at the possibility and practice of post-postmodern, integral writing.
FEB 21: Ways of Looking – We will enter the conversation at the point where Wallace Stevens starts an argument with the Modernists like Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, exploring the questions and critiques that suffuse his most famous work. During this first class meeting, we will engage experiments as practices guided by Stevens and others.
Reading to complete before the live session: “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Blackboard,” “The Snowman,” and “The Idea of Order at Key West” by Wallace Stevens
MAR 7: Basho and Haiku – On the second call, we will take a trip back Edo period Japan where we’ll meet Matsuo Basho, who wrote ““Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo. And in doing so, you must leave your subjective preoccupation with yourself. Otherwise you impose yourself on the object and do not learn. Your poetry issues of its own accord when you and the object have become one – when you have plunged deep enough into the object to see something like a hidden glimmering there. However well-phrased your poetry may be, if your feeling is not natural – if the object and yourself are separate – then your poetry is not true poetry but merely your subjective counterfeit.”
Reading to complete before the live session: “On Reading Basho with My Ten Year Old” by Marie Matsuki Mockett
MAR 21: Mind Writing Slogans – For the third call, we will fast forward in the tradition of contemplative poetics to the Beats. Allen Ginsberg has gifted us with the Mind Writing Slogans,
which act as a path for the practicing writer. He invites us to “notice what you notice” and to “observe what’s vivid.” We will also practice with a few dharma art practices. Reading to complete before the live session: Mind Writing Slogans
APR 4: Aperspetivity and Art – Finally, we’ll orient to the early foundations of integral theory by exploring Jean Gebser’s understanding of integral consciousness as it appears in the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. For Gebser, different periods of art corresponded to different dimensions of perspective, such as the transition at the end of the medieval period from flat, two-dimensional representation to three-dimensional perspective which created the illusion of depth in paintings. Gebser helps us explore the fourth-dimensional perspective that first becomes possible in integral art and consciousness. We will read examples of this type of writing and try some exercises.
Reading to complete before the live session: Aaron Cheak, “From Poetry to Kulturphilosophie” and Gebser’s space/time/perspective charts: Chart 1 and Chart 2.
Heather loves the intersection of language, writing, creativity, and consciousness. She currently lives in Golden, CO, where she teaches rhetoric, composition, creative writing, and ethics at the Colorado School of Mines and coordinates the Nature and Human Values program. She is also a certified coach and offers executive, writing, and personal development coaching. She is an essayist and poet and is currently working on a collection of essays for Untimely Books. Her interest in writing has led her to explore various contemplative and mystical traditions and the relationship between language and the divine in those traditions, introducing her to Sufi, Christian, Buddhist, and Jewish contemplative writings. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from Naropa University in 2015 where she was an Allen Ginsberg Fellow, and she completed her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing from Bowling Green State University in 2009. She has directed the Center for Writing and Scholarship at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and she has taught writing on the college level for over 20 years. Her current areas of writing interest include creative nonfiction and documentary poetics.