Supported by the AMT Leadership, longtime staff member and graduate of the The New School’s MFA Creative Writing program, Leslie Fierro, spent this past summer training to be an Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) Affiliate, certified to lead writing workshops in the AWA method.
In addition to creating Cast Off! Writers’ Workshops in Brooklyn, NY, the training has inspired her to begin leading art-based mini-workshops that are free and open to The New School Community.
On Tuesday, September 5th, she’ll begin her inaugural “Art/Write” workshops. This first workshop will lead participants in creating new writing prompted by one or two works by Parsons MFA Photo students in their thesis show, “Post-Truth,”closing on Sept 6th. Subsequent workshops will occur at various galleries and art sites on campus.
“I’m adapting exercises from the book, Third Mind: Creative Writing Through Visual Art, filtering them through the AWA workshop method, and bringing them into a one-hour workshop that aims to connect (or reconnect) participants to the art that surrounds them on campus, and to their own unique writing voice.”
The Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) method is based on a very simple belief system:
- Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
- Everyone is born with creative genius.
- Writing is an art form that belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level.
- A writer is someone who writes.
- The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem.
These beliefs are upheld by following the core AWA practices:
- Everyone’s writing, including the group leader’s, is treated with equal respect and value.
- Writing is kept confidential and is treated as fiction or story to instill freedom and trust in the group.
- Writers can refrain from reading their work aloud.
- Responses to just-written work reflect only what is strong. lasting and successful.
- Responses and exercises support the development of literary craft.
Of the AWA training experience, she says:
“It felt pretty life-changing, writing every day, learning about the AWA practices and methodology, and then getting the chance to lead my fellow trainees through their writing, developing my own creative prompts and leadership style, and monitoring the responses to each writer’s work in ways that maintained a safe space and supported the writer’s strengths and freedom to write without the kind of fear that’s often instilled at various levels of one’s formal education.
I’d wanted to host writing workshops since graduating the MFA program, but I didn’t have the confidence or experience to just jump right into it. I’m really grateful to have discovered AWA, as its philosophy aligns with my own convictions about art and writing being for everybody. I’m also grateful for the support of Parsons AMT, and for the Parsons Staff Development Fund, which has supported my writing practice for the past three years. I plan to request support from the fund to further my workshop practice, as well. I really encourage any staff member who has a particular artistic practice or career aspiration to reach out to their school leadership to ask what kind of support is feasible, and especially to apply for the Parsons Staff Development Fund!”
About Leslie Fierro’s off-campus writing workshops: