Poets & Writers

We Need New Metaphors

I’VE taught creative writing at the college and university level for seven years. I’ve taught all-ages poetry, creative writing, and performance workshops with nonprofits and community centers for the past thirteen years. I’ve experienced trauma during my undergrad and graduate writing workshops, when I was asked to translate myself and cultural backgrounds as a Filipinx woman and first-generation college student, and to clarify my experiences with sexual abuse and more. I was asked to perform whiteness through “imitating” white poets. I was also asked to perform my brownness and “foreign exoticness” to a white audience. I’ve been in “dead author” workshops (also known as the traditional workshop) for my entire education. Through this model, the writer is silent while the professor, or a classmate, clumsy or emboldened by the professor’s lack of guidance, begins to eviscerate the work. Everyone else then joins in.

Today I teach my classes and workshops with a very different approach. We begin with creating community guidelines (notice how I wrote “we”—I offer but don’t dictate) on how to interact with one another, the

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