BY SAMUEL STEVENS
Salisbury University’s Center for Extended and Lifelong Learning (CELL) started creative writing classes this month through their Lighthouse Literary Guild program. The courses run for three weeks this month.
CELL offers three classes taught by SU faculty and area residents, each with a different theme and focus, a press release from SU reported.
Mindie Burgoyne, a travel writer and photographer featured in The Washington Post and CBS News, teaches “Travel Writing: Sharing Your Journey.” The class shows students how to find subjects and hone them for compelling travel narratives. Burgoyne is also a past president of the Eastern Shore Writer Association.
The class entitled “Using Journaling as a Springboard to Creative Writing” gives aspiring writers a way of starting the creative process, taught by long time creative writing instructor Shannon Hinman.
“Getting Real, Close to Home” helps participants use life experiences to guide their writing. Nancy Mitchell, a professor in SU’s environmental studies department and a poet, teaches the course. “Close to Home” has a poetry concentration, but is open to any genre.
CELL classes are open to all ages, but they typically draw senior citizens. Mitchell liked this about the courses, since the participants offer a different perspective from college creative writing students. “They have a very rich experience to draw from,” Mitchell said.
Typically, the CELL students work on an assignment, email it to their instructor and then workshop it with their peers at the next class. After the writers revise their work, they have a portfolio at the end of the six-week course.
In addition to classroom activity, the writers do different exercises to guide their creative process, such as sitting alone and finding their place to write. “People are afraid of that silence,” Mitchell said.
In Mitchell’s course, she likes to break down preconceived notions about writing in her class. She said that students sometimes bring the idea that writing is “an elitist activity,” but through the course, she tells students to embrace their own voice.
While the courses are more open-ended and the structure is designed to fit the needs of the class, some of the CELL participants prefer a stricter, syllabus driven course.
The Lighthouse Literary Guild courses provide a community for the writers. Mitchell said, “Writing is a real solitary practice. You really need a community of writers so you don’t feel like…‘am I talking to myself?’”
The goal of Lighthouse Literary Guild is “to be the destination on the Eastern Shore for both local and vacationing writers,” their website says. They also plan to promote the works of writers in Salisbury and the region through readings.
The CELL programs try to create a link between SU and the city of Salisbury. “Our overall goal is to build community,” Mitchell said. “To even get students involved—that would be good.”