“In an unexpected way, this sense, so thick on the island, of the continuity of life allowed me to reaffirm why I am a writer. Oftentimes, I feel anxiety when I think about the competitive and shrinking literary marketplace. Even in a program as generous as ASU's, I feel pressure and a sense of urgency to publish, to be recognized by the world as a writer. But on this island where people have been living and eating and telling stories, where I and my cohort lived and ate together and told each other stories, was incredibly reaffirming for me. I write because I want to tell stories, and because I want to attune myself to the stories of other people. All of these aspects of life on the island – the restorative physicality of it, the landscape's sense of continuity, the friendships I made – made a very fruitful mindset for me to write in."
“I am sitting at a taverna on Psili Ammos, one of the many beaches on the Greek island of Serifos. I am surrounded by nine new friends, all extremely talented poets from diverse backgrounds. At the head of the table is Carolyn Forché, award winning poet and leader of the poetry workshop. We have gathered here for lunch to celebrate our last class on the island, to toast the work we have accomplished while here, and, of course, to swim. Our table looks out on the beach, the water as clear as the cloudless sky. This is how I will remember Greece. When I look back on my trip, I appreciate the things I learned, the connections I made, and every new experience, but above all I will remember how working hard just seems that much easier in such a beautiful place."
“As a published writer, I plan on using my experience as creative material to write poems. I look for inspiration in people, places, and events. I record notes in a journal and usually refer to those notes when I write. I consistently gather background information that I can incorporate into poems. As a writer, my job is to pay close attention to details. Spending time in Greece enriched all aspects of my life and work by exposing me to a new landscape, broadening my sense of community, introducing me to Greece’s famously hospitable population, shedding light on Greece’s national identity and often turbulent history, and allowing me to form friendships that will last for years to come."
“What I found to be really important is that we did not workshop our poems in the traditional sense, although we shared constructive feedback and comments. This decision, along with the informal outdoor setting, alleviated some of the pressures a traditional workshop can bring. Essentially, the act of not giving our comments on hardcopy, and the fact that poems were discussed as a group and not just deconstructed, allowed us to really enjoy the aesthetic act of reading and commenting on each other’s poems, and to give each other feedback from within the voice of the poem itself."