“Rediscover the joy of creating” with the “I Can’t Write Poetry” workshop

On June 19, the Center for Poets & Writers, in partnership with Thomas K. McKeon Center for Creativity, presented the “I Can’t Write Poetry” workshop to get adults to reinvigorate their creativity.

At the Zoom meeting for Tulsa Community College (TCC) students, in addition to the public, Crystal Patrick began the workshop by going over ekphrastic poetry. She explained, “the poem can tell the story of the scene in a painting and express the feelings of the poet.”

Participants watched a poem about “The Starry Night” and many noted how each of their previous poetry histories largely had to do with teenage angst or political messages. Poetry connected to a painting was something new. Attendees were prompted to create ekphrastic poetry from two Black Moon Collective paintings. Black Moon Collective is comprised of Black artists in the Tulsa area with the aim of breaking standards, pushing innovation, and cultivating creativity among the local community. The two chosen paintings were “Veg Out” (2020) by Neil Hello and “Molecular” (2019) by Molly Watta.

Patrick leading the workshop in writing ekphrastic poetry about Black Moon Collective paintings. (Photo provided)

Imperfection and getting back to the inherent creativity of children were goals built into the program. With the “Prettiest Star” by David Bowie playing in the background, Patrick said, “One of the things I used to tell my students when we were brainstorming…[was] to turn their papers backwards or upside down or flip them over, because it just starts tricking the mind out of the normal routine…Why do we write across? Because someone told us to write across.”

Patrick explained her struggles of stifling poetry with control instead of letting it flow, and the participants responded with diverse poetry, from free verse to rhyming every line.

Annina Collier, dean of the McKeon Center for Creativity and George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) Endowed Chair at TCC, explained the concept for the workshops, “This series is designed to help adults step outside of their comfort zone and try something new. Workshops are hands-on and help people to rethink creativity as merely the act of creating. The goal is not to discover a latent talent or create something totally new or ‘perfect,’ but just to rediscover the joy of creating.”

Collier detailed the beginning of the program over eight years ago, “The ‘I Can’t’ series was the first workshop series I developed when I began working at TCC… I had been thinking about how kids are inherently creative, but as we age, most of us not only stop doing most of our creative endeavors, but we actually think we can’t do them.” The name for the series, “I Can’t Workshops” popped into Collier’s head when walking the stairs of the Center for Creativity. Collier attributes much success to the name  – “it makes people curious and implies the sessions will be more fun.”

The series takes place in the fall, spring, and summer. Workshops cover a diverse range of topics including watercolor, Latin dance, and identifying invasive species. Collier expressed, “When students participate in Center for Creativity programs, whether that is during the school year or the summer, we hope the workshops will enhance their connection to TCC and [with] each other. I hope it will also develop a culture of lifelong learning and exploration.”

Register for more I Can’t workshops in the fall at the TCC Events website or you can send an email to cindy.barton@tulsacc.edu. Recordings of the past workshops can be found at The Center for Creativity Facebook page.

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