Play with Pattern: Crafting the Braided and Collage EssaysView Course
Often, experimenting with a new form is the best way to get unstuck and gain a fresh perspective on your writing. Perhaps you’re wondering how to become more experimental or looser in your writing, or you may be at an impasse with material you’ve been working with. In this generative course, we will examine the creative potential of juxtaposing themes through collage or a braided technique. Using writing prompts, readings, and discussion questions, you will explore how to breathe life into a subject through weaving of material and use of space. This class will provide tips and practice in using these forms as a way to make your writing fresh and engaging, both for your reader and for yourself.
Week 1 – Space and Juxtaposition
In this first week, you will examine models of collage essays, thinking about how they ask the reader to participate in the construction of meaning. What does this look like from the writer’s side? Through directed prompts, you will investigate how collage can be a tool of creative investigation.
Week 2 – Creating Resonance in Collage Pieces
You will further explore collage, pacing, and revision. How can collaged pieces draw a reader along? What is that engine? You will look for repetitions (of motifs/images/language) in pieces by others and analyze how that is working in your own responses to writing exercises.
Week 3 – Braided Pieces and How the Weaving Works
This week will address models of braided pieces and how they work. You’ll look at your own interests and begin mining your life for threads of language or subject matter, unlocking their creative potential.
Week 4 – Following the Threads
You will build on your thinking about collage and braiding, investigating how these techniques can enliven old drafts or help you find your way into new work. Whether or not the final piece is strictly in the form of collage or braided essay, how can you bring these techniques into your writing practice? End the course with a better understanding of how loose connections, juxtapositions, and the joining of disparate ideas are central to the creative life.
“Play with Pattern,” was developed by Joanna Cooper. Joanna Penn Cooper writes and teaches flash memoir, lyric essays, and poetry, and she is the author of The Itinerant Girl’s Guide to Self-Hypnosis (Brooklyn Arts Press) and What Is a Domicile (Noctuary Press). Her work has appeared in The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day feature, as well as South Dakota Review, Vinyl, On the Seawall, Poetry International, and other journals. Joanna holds a Ph.D. in English from Temple University and an MFA from New England College, and in her teaching career, she has held full-time visiting positions at Marquette University and Fordham University. Joanna is a frequent contributor to Good Letters, the online component of Image Journal. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.