12 September

Teaching At Pompanuck Farm

by Jon Katz

It is wonderful to have a space like the big table by the fireplace at Pompanuck Farm to teach my short story class. Red and Fate come and Fate is settling down, other than still jumping up on people to say hello. I may have to kick her in the stomach again before that stops.

Pompanuck is a beautiful, even mystical, environment in which to teach, my class has nearly a dozen students. Each one is working on a short story that will be published in paper or e-book form next Spring. The group is varied – a minister, professor, teacher, tech support counselor and writer, a poet, illustrator, a doctor and a nurse practitioner, a retired bishop, an academic communications director, a Mayflower descendant.

The stories are rich and deep and we are working through them one by one. There is honest and direct feedback, always positive, always easy to grasp, always generous. Outside our windows, nature – gardens, ponds, trails, fountains. How lucky we are to have this space, how much is transforms and accentuates our work.

Today, we talked about the new interactive writer, how writing is changing, how all of us are challenged to face our fears and phobias and old ideas and evolve creatively and be relevant in the new world. The class has an amazing chemistry, it is enhanced in our beautiful space.

We meet every Saturday morning from 10 a.m to noon, this is never a chore, is never  sleepy. Brain food for the open-minded, for those who wish to grow. We talk about ideas, story structures, the things each of us brings to writing. Good writing classes help people feel strong about their work, not anxious or confused. Most people talk about writing classes as if they just had an enema. My goal is that each of these students leaves the class strong and confident in their voice, unafraid to come out into the open with their work.

Many people have asked if I will teach this class online, and I’m afraid the answer is no. This class is why I only teach face to face – we look at one another, get to know one another, trust one another, talk and listen to each other. I am at ease writing online obviously, but I do not care for it as a teaching environment. In Pompanuck, I think I have found my teaching home. This class will go on a long while, next time up I’ll teach a blogging class again, or I might do a blogging workshop over a weekend in November. We’ll see how things go.

I love teaching, I love teaching this class. There is a magic to it, and on October 9, we will  host the first Bedlam Farm Creativity Conference at Pompanuck, hosted by the Creative Group At Bedlam Farm. It’s already full, but hopefully the first of many to come.

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