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Writing like a Witch: Experimental Procedures in Trance (Workshop)

I will be giving a workshop as part of the CUNY Graduate Center English Student Association‘s conference on Trance at 3:20 p.m. on March 6, 2015, in Room C203 of the GC.

This workshop will begin with a bit of entrancement under which participants will write prompts. In a continued trance state, participants will then trance-write brief pieces in response to one another’s prompts. At the close of this session, participants will share their trance-writing and the trance prompts that inspired them. Because this workshop will be following many panels and  performances both creatively and critically interpreting trance, participants will be preprepared with impetuses communally entrancing them.

This workshop will ask and seek to answer the question, how can we instigate, provoke, coerce, or manipulate writing in or from others in a nonbullshitty way? That is, how does one extract trance writing from others? Can trance writing yield more trance, or does trance ever reach a deadend? When is it actually dangerous to fuck up through language? What are the tipping points or points of diminishing returns in trance, in writing, in language? To what extent do these overlap? Is trance always embedded in words? Can trance, can creativity, can purposeful loss of control, be rendered political without losing integrity? That is, to what extent is trance purely aesthetic? Can all disciplines trance out equally? (One hopes! But one dares to doubt.) When is trance utopic? When is trance dystopic? When does trance refuse modes of social organization?

The above is rambly, but trance knows no bounds. Then again, even and especially Alice Notley, writer of trance manifestoes, edits her own writing. This workshop will seek to intertwine–to remix, to tape over–methods of digression and concision, expansion and condensation, creative outburst and (quasi?)critical review to better ask and answer the question, how do we produce interesting and unexpected writing? Is trance most efficaciously channeled in writing à la writing, or orally, perhaps through talk poetry such as that of David Antin? How can we manipulate a group’s intersubjective consciousness to produce surprising writing in communal situation? What’s Gertrude Stein got to do with it? What is trance? Can it involve bananagrams? Can it redeem mad libs? (Yes and maybe to those last two, respectively, but it leans too closely on tarot cards to ever involve magnetic poetry.) Can we write with our eyes closed and read it in the morning?

Posted in abstract, Alice Notley, automatic writing, Bananagrams, CAConrad, event, literature, poetry, trance, workshop.

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