At the heart of the Institute are daily multigenre workshops. Working with faculty alongside a core group of peers, participants generate new work, revise work in progress, and form a supportive community of young writers who are committed to sharing and receiving feedback on their writing. Enrollment is limited so that each writer has ample opportunity to present his or her work.
Before Juniper, I was worried what others would think of my writing and now I have gained a more open-minded perspective and willingness to experiment with different styles and levels of complexity within my writing.
In addition to Workshops, all participants are offered craft sessions with JIYW faculty. Craft sessions address a specific aspect of process, technique, form, or inspiration of particular interest to beginning writers. Participants may engage in writing exercises or guided readings, and can expect to approach writing (their own and others’) from a different perspective. Recent topics have included:
• “OOPS: The Aesthetics of Mistakes, Misunderstandings, and Chance”
• “Can I Get a Story Out of That?: Using Truth to Create Fiction”
• “How’s It Lookin’? Playing with Perspective and Taking a Second Look”
"Field" craft sessions, which occur mid-week, are paired with museum tours. These sessions illustrate how writers integrate inspiration from “out in the field” into their work. The museum experience acts as field research, which is brought back to the classroom. Recent topics and locations have included:
• “I Feel Weird: Language in Unexpected Places” at The Amherst College Natural History Museum
• “Ready, Setting, Go!” at Flying Object
• “Mastering the Art of the Poem-Letter” at The Emily Dickinson Museum
The craft session was my absolute favorite. When we started off, I thought it was weird, but we’re writers, everything we do is weird. I actually wrote some of my favorite pieces during the week in my craft session.
I went to the Amherst Museum of Natural History, which went really well with Ted's class afterwards. He pushed us to think WAY outside the box and gave us tricky, mind-bending, fun assignments to try out. I especially liked how it connected to everything I saw and took notes on at the museum.
Studio Courses are meant to get participants active. Through hands-on courses in bookmaking and performance, participants explore avenues of creativity and experiment with new ways to share their writing.
I was in the bookmaking course and I was especially proud of the accordion book I made in it. The course informed me about a more experimental, physical way of combining words and images. I will, in the future, think of my writing in more ways than simply text on a page.
I was in the “Performance Matters!” studio course. I liked listening to other group members read their work and seeing how pieces improved with each performance. I think I understand more about performing now, and how best to communicate with an audience (visual and auditory).
Readings and Q&As
Each evening, participants experience the transformative power of literature read aloud by the acclaimed faculty and writers in residence of the concurrent adult Institute—including James Tate, Joy Williams, Dara Wier, and Ron Hansen. Follow-up Q&A sessions allow participants to explore the creative process and writer's life with these world-renowned authors.
The readings were INCREDIBLE!! Mark Doty shocked me, frightened me, amazed me. All readings were fantastic.
I loved the readings. They’re like bedtime stories that you can’t fall asleep to but still dream about.
Our pod was really a tribe, with each person contributing something wonderful that we didn’t even know we needed.
Participants have the option to receive academic credit for the work they do at Juniper (taking daily courses and attending evening readings & salons) in addition to writing two short response papers on books written by faculty or writers in residence from the adult program. Three academic credits cost an additional $400 and are completely optional. Information on how to register is sent upon acceptance to the JIYW.
I never knew writing could be so unconventional until Juniper, so over the course of the week I’ve written prose and even dabbled in some poetry. Changing my writing style gave me a new love for writing because my old style had gotten boring and stale. I’m so thankful for this experience!
I feel this year has helped bridge the gap between my prose and my poetry. I’ve written several pieces that dwell in both worlds and I think I want to explore how poetry can inform prose in my writing and vice versa.