Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Canvas Writing Circle and some thoughts on art and community

So every Wednesday (EDIT: Mondays now), I facilitate a writing circle at the Canvas Teen Arts Center from 4:30-6.  It's just an open space where poets, spoken-word artists, rappers, songwriters and writers of all kinds can come together, share their work and get constructive feedback.  It's very informal and fun.  Even though we're a teen center, the circle is open to anyone.  I have a very broad definition of youth.  And I'm there every week, so yeah.

I really like doing this, and this is why:

1. Good artists exist in communities, not as individuals.  I don't believe that art is some magical, mystical force that lives in heads of a select handful of geniuses.  I believe that art is communication, and to effectively communicate, it helps to have people critique your work.  Anyone can be an artist, but your own thoughts can only take you so far.

2. Teaching is the best way to learn.  While it's helpful to hear others' thoughts on your work, it's doubly helpful to express your thoughts about theirs.  Giving feedback forces us to think critically about why we like the things we like, which is a vital step on the road to becoming a good artist.

3. It's a valuable educational model.  While the opportunity to get free writing and performance feedback from a two-time National Poetry Slam champion, critically-acclaimed rapper and all-around lovely human being like myself might be part of the allure of this workshop, the power is really in the democratization of the learning process.  We are all teachers.  We are all learners.  We sit in a circle.  There are no lectures, just conversations.  It's a pretty liberating feeling, and it gets results too.

So writers, I hope to see you there sometime.  And if you know anyone who might be interested in this, please spread the word.  The Canvas is located right across Snelling Ave. from Hamline University, inside the Hancock Rec Center.  There's a parking lot.  The exact address is 1610 Hubbard Ave. W in St. Paul.  We have a ton of cool stuff planned for the summer and beyond, but the writing circle remains a constant.  Swing by and check it out.

And don't forget, we're having a free outdoor rap show on May 12:

1 comment:

Guante said...


We're switching to MONDAYS for the summer, and possibly into the coming year.

So the writing circle will be every Monday from 4:30-6 at the Canvas.