ASU’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing has teamed up with Phoenix College and Changing Hands Bookstore to create a series of workshops hosted by professional writers, which will take place on the fourth Monday of every month.
The workshop series, titled “Write Here, Write Now,” begins this month with "At the Intersection of Personal and Cultural Memory" hosted by Piper J. Daniels on September 23 at the Changing Hands location in downtown Phoenix.
Daniels is the award-winning author of “Ladies Lazarus” as well as an upcoming instructor at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. She will be teaching this workshop with a focus on pushing the boundaries of creative writing.
"If anyone ever told you that your work was too wild, too dark, too queer, too experimental or chaotic, this class is for you," Daniels wrote in the class description.
Daniels said that her upcoming workshop focuses on taking personal narrative writing and making it meaningful to a larger audience. She said that those who are vulnerable enough to open up and communicate from a sacred place can create a lasting experience for all.
Daniels said that when she taught a similar workshop in the past, the goal was to help writers take their diary-like memoir writing and turn it into a “lens to examine a larger cultural spirit or attitude.”
She said that as the political and social climate of the world has changed, she began to view writing and other art forms as a way people can create and connect with one another other during dark times.
“The world seems to be incredibly difficult and divisive, and it’s hard for us to hear one another,” Daniels said. “As gratifying as it might be to log onto Facebook and write some rant about a post you saw, or even to express at these times how difficult the world is to live in, I think that it’s our duty to move beyond that starting point. Otherwise there’s really no point in being a writer who desires readers.”
Daniels said she hopes that people who attend her workshop learn the importance of writing and feel inspired to spend more of their daily lives being creative, as writing often starts as a hobby and can become a “way of life.”
“The most incredible, and borderline spiritual thing about writing is that everything in the universe connects,” Daniels said. “It seems like it can’t, but if you approach things in a certain way it’s amazing how one thing links to another.”
Jake Friedman, a marketing and outreach specialist at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, helped organize the “Write Here, Write Now” workshops.
He said it is in the Piper Center's mission to create educational spaces for aspiring writers that are welcoming and attainable, especially for people who cannot easily commit to a year-long masters program in creative writing.
The workshops at Changing Hands fulfill this goal by offering a low commitment, educational space where those who are just starting out as writers can make connections with professional authors and institutions in the Phoenix area.
“I think with the humanities and the arts specifically, it really means working with the communities to use art as a way to address social issues or as a way to create power in individuals,” Friedman said.
Friedman said he hopes people who attend the workshops leave with a restored sense of purpose and belonging within the writing community.
“I think with any writing workshop, you’re hoping that people have the start of a piece,” he said. “You really just want to give them the seed of something. You want them to be able to go home and continue working on something. You want them to feel motivated and determined.”
Cindy Dach, co-owner of Changing Hands, said workshops like “Write Here, Write Now” are helpful in building a close writing and literature community in Phoenix which is one of the bookstore's primary goals.
“The idea behind this particular event was to kickstart creativity and to just have a moment where you’re inspired and sitting down and actually writing,” Dach said. “The second part is to have this moment where people see each other and recognize each other, and that is a foundation to building (a) community.”