Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor Kim Dower! Kim is teaching a new class, Waking Up Your Prose, in Westwood — near UCLA (Reg# 369670) this Fall, and sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and her upcoming course.
What sparks your creativity?
Anything and everything from an irresistible news headline: “They’re Taking Chocolate Milk Off the Menu!” to a dream I can’t shake, to a memory that connects with the present, seeing something beautiful – the ocean, the moon, or not beautiful – a dead bird in the gutter – to hearing a funny or upsetting conversation between two people.
What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
Automatic writing! Some call it “wild writing,” some call it “fever writing,” but it’s sitting down using your fastest ballpoint pen (ok to use the computer) to write — even for just five minutes — without thinking, stopping, correcting, crossing out, second guessing. Just write to a prompt or not, for 5 to 7 minutes, never lifting your pen. It’s amazing what will come from that. At the very least you’ll get a great title or word coupling you’ve not seen before. My “go to” prompt is to begin each sentence with “I Remember,” a la Joe Brainard’s evocative book.
What’s your favorite quote about writing?
“Words are physical: words are nature and matter, order of place, changing place and force. Words exert pressure. They go straight ahead of meaning, pressing at its sides: they sway themselves. The poem is a swaying of words.” – Jean-Luc Nancy
And: “Poetry is a way of looking at the world for the first time.” – W.S. Merwin
What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
What I will learn from my students! The Writers’ Program gave me the opportunity to create a course and as I was designing the curriculum it occurred to me how much my own writing will be enriched by the interaction with the class. I’m excited to offer students a “safe” place to explore the challenges, depths, and possibilities of their work and look forward to the many surprises that will inevitably come along the way. What also excites me is the chance to watch prose writers and screenwriters fall in love with poetry!
What do you hope your students get from your course?
A brand new arsenal of tools, ideas, ways of seeing the power of their words. I hope they get how the craft of poetry and the various lenses poets employ can be used by prose and screenwriters as well to build, tighten and enhance their work. I hope they have fun and enjoy reading and discussing a wide variety of poetry. I hope they have that pivotal “aha” moment that changes the way they revise their work. I hope I can broaden their “writer toolbox” with the suggestions I will offer for how to jumpstart their work and come up with fresh, surprising ideas. I hope they learn how to put music in their prose. If they fall in love with poetry, that would be the bonus of what I hope they get from my course.
Thank you to Kim for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!