FreeWriters Reply

  • Do you consider yourself a writer, why or why not? If so, when did you realize you were a writer? If not, what about writing interests you?
  • What kind of things do you write about?
  • What interests you most about writing?
  • What are your expectations of this workshop/project? What are you excited, nervous, confused, and or in the dark about?
  • What would you most like to learn about poetry?
  • What do you hope to learn about yourself?
  • What do you think you will learn about others?
  • How old are you? What is your ethnicity? What “Campus” are you participating in the JustWrite Program from?

LM- Questionnaire Responses – Free Writer

  • I do consider myself a writer. I also consider myself a storyteller. I came out of participating in a conference honoring John Mohawk, http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Indian-John-Mohawk-Reader/dp/1555917380, reminding myself that I am a storyteller. I realized I was awriter probably about the time I started performing in public in 1994 in North Buffalo. I had been writing for 8 years but, at that  time, it hit me. Writing interests me because I can play with the language I feel resistant to. I know I can move people and heal myself. I can crate a solution. I feel I can give thanks this way.
  • I like to write about autobiographical things. I like to write about race, religion, Jewishness, Italian-American-ness, borders, autonomy, space, mystic formulas, language, how I feel not speaking Italian. I like to write about transcience, connectivity, life, death, the earth, the future, power, rape, memories, how I imagine San Francisco, my memories of Buffalo/WHY/El Salvador/BC/Oregon/Northern Cali.
  • I feel that writing is threatening, pwerful, stationary, static. I feel that it is an artery to the ether, it is a conversation with my elders and my future children better yet, the future of the planet, with or without humans.
  • I’m not really understanding all of it but my intuition says GO and so I go. I have mixed feelings about my privacy and what will happen to my words but I’ve resolved to let my ego let go. I’m happy to go with the flow and learn as it comes. Will we work with particular individuals on a writer-to-writer basis?  I am excited because I have family membes and friends who are in/have been in jail or who will be in jail for the rest of their lives. There is a program in my hometown called “Prisoners are People Too” run by Karima Amin. She is a friend and a good poet. The name of her organization works agains the purpose of prison in the purest form. I’m excited to get to know the peole and be one of them. I feel prison, jail, and the lock-down, solitary confinement etc. are of course worse in reality but they exist for many in metaphor too. I hope that doesn’t sound too pretentious. It is what it is. I’m like this: I’m OK with making mistakes I’m showing up because I want to learn.
  • I’d like to learn if others fight agains their identity as a poet. I’ve been wiring for a long time and I keep entertaining the notion that I should be doing something else. I just wrote an article about Idle No More so I’m moving to journalism. I’d like to learn if the poets who write poetry feel connected to that identity and what does it do to their identities. I’d like to learn about voice from other’s examples.
  • I’d liek to learn to be more gracious, more grateful, and let go of some control over my words. I think it’s good for me to learn to listen.
  • I’m not sure but I’m sure I will learn. It’s hard to be vulnerable. I know this from experience. I suppose I will learn this again and again.
  • I’m in my late 30’s – I’ll give you that. I identify as Italian-American who is also from Jewish heritage. Free-Writer.

EG – Questionnaire Responses – Free Writer

  • Yes, I consider myself a poet and began taking poetry seriously after attending Carlos Contreras’ poetry class at the downtown campus.
  • Issues and personal experiences that are very specific to women, such as abortion, domestic violence, having my daughter while incarcerated, family relationships, etc.
  • I love the honesty and being able to put everything out there, I have a hard time expressing my emotions verbally but when I write poetry I’m able to break through those walls.
  • I’m excited about getting my voice via poetry heard.  Through the program I’d also love to have my work critiqued, its great to be praised as a poet but I’d also love to know what I need to work on so I can continue to grow as an artist.
  • I’m now interested in the performance aspect of poetry so I can compete in slam poetry and spoken word contests.
  • To find my own unique voice, to explore as a poet, to master my nervousness so I can get on a stage to perform my poetry, to push myself to turn out high quality work on a consistent basis, long term goal of getting published not for money but to be heard
  • I hope people on the outside will learn we are real poets and writers, not just inmates who happen to write
  • I’m 26 years old, white and located at the MDC.

MB – Questionnaire Responses – Free Writer

  • Born and raised. I wrote my first journal entry when I was 7. Fast forward a few years later and I was writing avidly, everyday. Keeping a journal has been a natural part of my life for the majority of it, and I find that when weeks or even months pass without writing, I struggle a lot more in most aspects of my life. Writing is my way of processing life and what’s happening to and around me.I am a fierce believer in story-telling, both fact and fiction, and so I’m drawn to what people write about when they are given the opportunity to write anything. I facilitate writing workshops in high schools and juvenile detention centers, and I’m aware of how often students’ initial responses to writing prompts is that they don’t know what to write. I think that a lot of mainstream culture has taught us that what we have to say doesn’t count, doesn’t matter and won’t make a difference, and so a lot of us grow up learning to stay silent. It’s a deeply empowering thing to realize that there is validity in our words, no matter how raw, how heated or how misguided they may seem at first.
  • Everything. My journaling is generally a personal debriefing of my day and I use it as a chance to de-clutter my thoughts and emotions. My poetry and stories are all, up until this point, based on personal experience and things that I have witnessed. I tend to start writing when I am feeling weighted by heavy emotions. I write often about conversations I’ve had with people, my reactions to current events, and my own questioning of myself and who I am.
  • I surprise myself a lot when I write. There are so many times that I start a piece thinking “I have no clue what in the world to say” and then pages later I’m in a flow. I love when a poem starts to take a solid shape on the page.  I’m also intrigued by how much more attentive I have become to my surroundings as my writing practice has become a more constant part of my life.
  • None, other than that I expect to be constantly surprised by pieces that I will be reading from other writers. And hopefully pleasantly surprised by pieces I write to contribute to this workshop. I’m still in the process of getting a clear sense of what the project entails and its mission, but I am excited!
  • Everything. How to break all the rules. I want to see how other people do poetry, what it brings to their lives.
  • Oh geez, anything would be nice. Writing and especially sharing my poetry is a constant practice in self-acceptance.
  • Wonderful, painful, powerful things.
  • I am 24. Almost 25. I’m of Mexican and Irish descent, born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I’m a freewriter.

SVT – Questionnaire Responses – Free Writer

  • I am a writer, a poet. I started writing short stories in my composition book when I was about 8 years old. When I was 13, I began to write poetry. My auntie and mentor, Andrea Serrano, has been here with me on my journey to finding my own voice. Now, as a young woman, writing is not just something I do, it is a part of who I am.
  • I write what I know. I was raised by storytellers and that is usually strongly felt in everything I write. Inspiration is everywhere.
  • It is the voice I never knew I had.
  • I am excited to be a part of this. Hearing/reading other works of art is always so inspiring that I know it will help me grow.  I hope in some way to inspire others also.
  • I have been performing spoken word since I was 16, so it is not so much learning about poetry. I would like to cultivate my craft to continue to create and grow.
  • There is never a stopping point for growth for those that continue seeking it; I hope to just keep learning.
  • Many, many things! We can learn from one another.
  • I just turned 23. I am a Chicana, born and raised in ‘Burque. I am a “Free Writer” currently residing in Dallas, Tx, but New Mexico will always be my home.

TW – Questionnaire Responses – Free Writer

  • Yes, I consider myself a writer because I look at the world with a unique perspective that is all my own and I want to paint the picture I see with words for others to view through my eyes. I first realized I was a writer when I found nothing comforted me in my existence the way words did. Whether I was happy, sad, angry, confused – writing was the only outlet I felt truly encapsulated what I was feeling. My ‘being’ in the world feels most prevalent and powerful when I write and share those words with others who may relate. Writing interests me because sometimes you read something that makes you feel less along in this world; I want to write something that creates a similar effect for others.
  • I write about love, loss, grief, joy, and all of the above. I write about my life and experiences I’ve had where I’ve learned lessons that were so difficult to learn I feel I can’t help but share them with outs. I write about where I come from and my identity. I write about the past experiences I’ve endured and how these experiences are a part of who I am and who I am becoming. I write about the hurts and traumas of both my individual self and those that arise from a community and shared experience.I write about sad things because I think, someone has to not be afraid to get their hands dirty in grief, loss, struggles, all the things society avoids talking about. Part of the artist’s call is to turn past traumas on their heads, upside down, inside out, then put it back down as something changed, transformed, so that everyone else can see something beautiful or hopeful in it. But in order for that beauty or hope to come about someone had to dive head first into the muck, ugliness, stark darkness of the wreck. That is what we writers do – we recast wounds in unending light. We make re-membering revolutionary.
  • I’m interested in bringing people together through words and shared experiences. I’m interested in helping myself and others make sense of our lives by seeing similarities and parallels across experiences. Seeing a life rendered on the page through that simple act of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard somehow allows me to make sense of things.
  • I have no other expectation than for people to “just write” and share his/her stories/words with each other in a nonjudgmental space. I’m excited to be able to participate and hopefully help others find the courage to be unafraid to write about subjects that may make some feel uncomfortable.
  • I suppose I’m always trying to learn how to challenge myself more with my poetry and poetics, to push the boundaries between form and genre. I’m always hoping to learn more ways to be innovative.
  • I hope to learn that I always have something to learn and that each new experience and sharing of experiences with others always leads to more self learning and awareness.
  • I hope to learn that no matter how different the background, I can always find common ground with others.
  • 27, Native American – FreeWriter

PY – Questionnaire Responses – Free Writer

  • I consider myself a writer because I like to write. I realized I like to write when my mom was dying in 2005. I had a job in a cubicle as a medical transcriptionist with nothing to do and so I started writing stories to myself in Word, and I wrote a couple of poems.  All this happened when my mom was really sick in the hospital with heart problems and diabetic complications. I took a creative writing class at a community college in San Mateo, CA.  I liked it so much I am still going to college majoring in education. I also journal obsessively.
  • I have a short story about a bunny that goes to die in the woods. Another is about rocks. There is one about a boy who goes to a haunted house and comes out branded by hillbilly monsters.  My most recent is about a dominatrix.  I like to write poems about fitting in, infidelity, seeds, water, disappointment, nature.
  • I like the ability to see what I am thinking in front of me. When I like what I read I get happy. I feel accomplished, even if it’s just for myself.
  • My expectations for this is having a good time seeing what everyone writes and that I contributed something too. I am excited about the writing prompts and sharing our different takes on them. I am curious to see how it all comes together on video.
  • How to keep going with a thought.
  • I hope to learn how my differences are a part of fitting in.
  • I have no idea.
  • I am a 47 half Mexican, half white (English & German) male What “Campus” participating in the JustWrite Program from UNM.

AS – Questionnaire Responses – Free Writer

  • Yes, I am a writer. Like parenting and yoga, it is a regular practice for me that I do on a daily basis. I realized I was a writer in fourth grade when my teacher began giving us writing prompts to create short stories, and I absolutely loved doing them. In fifth grade, I wrote my first “book,” a sci-fi story about a girl who enters a fun-house and goes back in time to the age of dinosaurs. Since then, I’ve done writing of all sorts–journalism, criticism, poetry, short stories, a (bad) novel, press releases, advertisements, web features, status updates, pitch letters, persuasive emails, research papers, a masters thesis, and on and on. What I love most about writing is being able to be expressive and persuade with the word. And editing is fun, too!
  • My poetry is mainly personal, covering relationships with family, friends, lovers, and my immediate world. For work, I mostly write about books and publishing, presenting authors and their work to a larger readership.
  • What interests me most about writing is finding an outlet for figuring out the world that is healthy, creative, and reflective and might just have insights that can help others do the same.
  • I’m not really sure what the workshop is at all.
  • I would like to learn how to write poetry that speaks to a universal mentality; poetry can sometimes be vague or esoteric, and I think that is hard to get around because it is so personal.
  • I hope to learn how I can be a more dedicated, practiced writer within a community of writers.
  • I would like to learn how other writers stage their practice, what works for them and what doesn’t vis a vis the regular, mundane necessity to make a living and take care of the usual business of the grind.
  • I am 34, an Anglo “mutt” with German, English, and Scots-Irish heritage, writing from Albuquerque.

EG – Questionnaire Response – Free Writer

  • I do consider myself a writer, mainly because before as a hobby, I’d only take maybe a few minutes to compose a poem and such. Now, I take hours on hours on a single piece that might be finished in about a month depending on it’s feel of it. I realized I was a writer when I was praised for my structure in my Sophomore English teacher who really pushed my creativity out.
  • I generally write about things that matter to me: racial issues, break ups, social commentary, and of course: inner-problems.  I started writing those cheesy love poems EVERYONE starts with, and now it’s what I find interesting, or things I need to dismantle to understand. A piece of advice I was given was: “you’re taught to write what you know in school, a good writer writes about what he or she does not know”.
  • How you can twist images in plain format, and take readers–and yourself, on voyages to the past or future. Writing is a powerful tool for love, understanding, anger and even hate. But I think, writing, like any other super power, should be used for the greater good.
  • Expectation 1: boosting my experience points up. Expectation 2: improve on the tenfold.
  • I’d like to learn more techniques on rhythms.
  • I’d like to learn to attribute myself in advice.
  • I’ll learn new techniques of writing, mainly
  • I am 17 years of age, I am a young afro-chicano and in High School.  Pueblo High School.

MS – Questionnaire Response – Free Writer

  • I do consider myself a writer; it’s been a process. I slowly started to accept that I loved writing and that it was something that I needed to do during my first poetry writing workshop when I was 18.
  • I write mostly about things that I’ve experienced or things people close to me have gone through (although I also fictionalize some things). I tend to focus on my relationships with      others or about how other people interact.
  • The possibility for stories in all shapes and sizes is what interests me about writing.
  • I’m looking forward to working with a diverse group of people, and seeing what everyone brings to the table—how people are influenced and what blossoms.
  • I’d like to learn how to read/use meter, I struggle with it—I’d like to be able to master it.
  • I hope to learn that I’m more capable than I think I am.
  • I think I’ll learn different writing styles and processes. I’ll learn about how universal some experiences are, and on flip side, how unique others experiences can be.
  • I’m 27 years old Hispanic. I believe I was referred to as one of the “free folks,” so a poet just floating out in the inter webs.

SG – Questionnaire Response – Free Writer

  • I’m a writer.  When I was 8 I wrote a book about a bicycle ride with Animal from the Muppets.
  • What my dreams look like when wrapped around everyday life.
  • The ability to re-define reality or conversely be static as the world whirls around you.
  • Always grateful to see how others mold words in their own experiences.
  • What the boundaries of poetry look like…if they exist.
  • Nothing.  surprises are good.
  • How amazing the people in this world are.
  • 30 something. Chicana. Arizona

LP – Questionnaire Response – Free Writer

  • I am a writer and have been one for as long as I can remember. I never considered myself a writer, though, until I started making a living–paying the bills–as a journalist. When I look back on my childhood, adolescence, and my 20s, however, I realize that I’d actually been a writer since I learned to read and became captivated by words.
  • As a journalist and essayist, I write about the environment. Everyday, I write about what I love–rivers, wild places, landscapes, animals–and the things I don’t love–corruption, mismanagement, and the destruction of natural resources. I weave all of those things into stories that I hope will inspire and engage the public.
  • I think the written word is an incredibly powerful way for people to connect with one another. I also love the intimacy of writing and reading.  As an environmental journalist, I can experience something, sequester myself away and work through that experience, then share it with readers I’ve never met. On the other side of things, as a reader, I adore bringing along my favorite writers and books wherever I might be–in a coffee shop, on the back patio, on a camping trip, lying in bed–and learning something entirely new to me.
  • Most of all, I’m excited to encourage young and emerging writers.
  • Anything! I’m not a poet at all. But I love trying to incorporate a certain cadence into my essays–and even my reporting.
  • I’m always looking for new ways to reach people who think they aren’t interested in environmental issues. I’m always hoping that if I can tell more nuanced and more interesting stories about the world, more people will become engaged in these issues that are really important.
  • I love learning about people who have experiences that are different from my own–and finding out how well we all can relate to one another when we listen, share, write, and create.
  •  I’m 38, white, and single mom to a six year old.

SR – Questionnaire Response – Free Writer

  • Yes, I consider myself a writer, although the way my writing has manifested has taken many turns over the years, from poetry, to songs, to stories, to actual published articles and back and forth again.  I think I first realized I was a writer at around age 10 — I think I was in fifth grade, learning about Phyllis Wheatley and this epic rhyming poem just came out of me.  I remember my teacher was really impressed and almost unbelieving.  Words are one of the few things that have come easy to me, and that give me fairly consistent joy.
  • It’s always evolving, but when it comes to creative writing like poetry, it’s typically either about romantic love or the dark, painful side of life.  Lately, however, I’ve been writing some angry political pieces.  I rarely am writing both songs and poems at the same time, so when I’m writing music it’s usually about love or some other facet of human relationships or the journey of life.
  • What interests me most about writing as a human phenomenon is the incredible creativity, depth and rawness that can come out of it.  It’s really a spiritual endeavor to be vulnerable and honest, but in a way others can relate to.  It fascinates me that after thousands of years of words and language, humans can still create something new with words, and inspire new insights and feelings in others.  What interests me most about my own writing is that spiritual endeavor side of things, and the challenge to be vulnerable and emotionally honest which is not always easy for me.  What interests me is the way poems and songs can have their own lives and just come out in a way that doesn’t even feel like it’s entirely me writing them.  I know I’m not the first artist or writer to comment on this experience, but it is truly awe-some and humbling when it happens.  I also love the way I can say things in an artistic piece of writing that would require all kinds of rational acrobatics and a lot of footnotes and citations to say in a scholarly article or piece of journalism.  While I still do some of the latter, and it has its place, there’s something about the personal nature of creative writing that’s hard to argue with, and people can sort of just resonate and “get it” or not, and move on.
  • No expectations, not sure what is being asked of me yet!  I guess I’m in the dark about what those are, please enlighten?  I suppose what I’m both excited and nervous about is sharing what have been intensely private and personal sides of myself with strangers.
  • What it is that makes a really powerful, excellent poem.
  • Oh man, there isn’t enough space to answer that.  My entire existence on this planet is an expedition into the human condition and my own soul.  I am here to grow and learn, and try to accept the lessons gracefully as they come.
  • No clue, but I hope to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for Earthlings, since I oftentimes struggle with understanding us as a species.
  • I am 42 chronologically — older in soul and spirit, younger in body ;-) … and my mind? That depends on the day.  The Cliff Notes version of the ethnicity question is “mixed” but culturally a mix of White European American and Mexican/Latina.  I speak both English and Spanish fluently (and write in both) and pass as either.  No campus for me, I am happily an un-student (in the formal sense) at the moment!

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