I appreciate Amy Brady for this interview:
Thanks to Denise Low-Weso for what she does for community! Here is an interview on her blog:
I am also thankful for Miranda Ericsson to interview me:
A big thanks to Laura Madeline Wiseman for this interview:
I loved being a part of this! I didn't realize it was a DREAM come TRUE, talking about writing alongside other AMAZING writers in Kansas City, overlooking Main, thinking about how a small-town guy like me was in the big city discussing [HE]ART. Really, don't tell anyone how I was blown away by these amazing guests: : Sara Nicole Glass aka MissConception, Annie Raab, & Godfrey Riddle. With a BIG THANKS to Maria Vasquez Boyd:
An amazing article from The Kansas City Star:
at the 2016 Kansas Authors Club Convention
photo by Roy Beckemeyer
Writing as Therapy Interview by Talitha Martin
Dennis Etzel Jr. is a Professor of English at Washburn University. He has a personal and professional investment in utilizing poetry as path towards survival and healing. Prof. Etzel leads a variety of community poetry classes and readings as well as teaching Beginning /Advanced Composition, Beginning Fiction and Mythologies in Literature at Washburn.
I had a fortunate meeting with him to discuss “writing as therapy”.
On writing as therapy - The first thing to know is, we are not therapists. When you are working with kids to write about traumatic events, we are not therapists, we cannot come at them expecting them to be able to put all this down on paper. One thing we can do, we should do a lot of is praise and applaud. “Thank you for your courage and bravery in sharing”, no matter how minute the sharing is. Vulnerability is a strength and we need to stress that to our students. Poetry and personal writing is the best time to be vulnerable, be vulnerable on a page.
On poetry as survival – No one can take from you what you create, you own that. Putting it down on paper makes you a double survivor. You survived it and wrote about it, now you are a survivor to your reader as well. Your experience makes that real to someone else.
On journaling - My own journey involved self-awareness through journaling which led to poetry. Dr. Nobo here at Washburn said to me, as an undergrad, that I should become a better writer. To do that, I should keep a journal and carry around a thesaurus. So I did. I loved the thesaurus and pass them on now, because it opens up such an appreciation for the meaning behind words. Journaling is effective because repetition becomes a habit. I journaled because I wanted to be a better writer.
On connecting to students– Every class I am in, I know that there are people there who have gone through something. So, I mention it and take a firm stance on it, letting them know up front that I care about these issues (abuse, neglect etc) and their stories.
On grammar and conventions - This is the last step, and I find rubrics very important when approaching it. They are a good visual representation of the process. I put things on the rubric in the order of importance to me and grammar is at the very bottom. I allow many revisions, until a student feels they finally “got” it. I use “minimal marking” to grade and allow them to make “cheat sheets” of common grammar errors until they don’t struggle with those errors anymore.
Ideas for Writing as Therapy
Another interview that appeared in Flint Hills Review, on my blog here: