The Inlandia Institute will once again host free writing workshops in Redlands.
Romaine Washington, in partnership with the University of Redlands, will be offering one – poetry for beginner and intermediate writers – every second Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. starting Jan. 11 on Zoom.
Washington is the author of two collections of poetry, one of which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has appeared in local and national publications. She led workshops for Inlandia for two years.
Washington hopes attendees leave with inspiration and “new ways of looking at what they write.” She wants writers to see themselves as writers, stretch, and learn ways to improve.
At each meeting, the writers read their poetry. Other participants listen, comment, and then ask the author what kind of feedback they want, as well as what they hope to get with their work. Always, said Washington, “the writer has power over his work.”
Listening is an important part of the experience, Washington said. Often times, writing workshops focus primarily on the writing itself. “But as an audience, we learn to listen. “
It also offers optional prompts, guest speakers, and introductions to new forms and poets.
If a newbie is hesitant to join us, Washington said, “You don’t have to share what you’ve written. You can sit back and enjoy, and when you feel comfortable, you can share. There is no judgment. It is a place where we can enjoy the creative process.
It is also the building of a community.
“It’s really nice when we get to know the writer too,” she said.
Participants are eligible to submit their work for publication in an Inlandia anthology, and once Washington knows the styles of the writers, it sometimes suggests other suitable venues as well. Writers, she said, “learn a lot when they submit to other places.”
Mae Wagner Marinello, who has written for Inland Newspapers for many years, has been leading an ongoing workshop in partnership with the Joslyn Senior Center since 2014. Participants write everything from poetry to science fiction to memoir. She agrees that community is the highlight.
“People come because of the camaraderie,” she said.
Many participants have been present for years. Jerry Ellingson, who joined five years ago, said the group was “like family. What she (Wagner Marinello) has done is create that space where we’re totally comfortable writing down the things that are deepest in our hearts and sharing them.
Unfortunately, a member recently passed away. The group are so close, said Wagner Marinello, that they will be attending his funeral. The man’s wife was also a participant and came to the group two weeks after her husband died, Ellingson said because she needed to be with them.
The Joslyn Joy Writers met exclusively on Zoom in 2020 and wrote a poem about the experience that featured in that year’s Inlandia anthology. Ellingson said the Zoom meetings were something to look forward to during a tough time for everyone.
When the center reopened, the workshop began to run in person and on Zoom simultaneously, as some regular members were immunocompromised.
Wagner Marinello insisted that the Joy Writers are not a group of critics. She started it, she said, because “everyone has that same sadness that they didn’t ask questions when they had the chance.”
She wanted people to write stories for their children. Participants are not required to share their work, although they almost always choose to do so. “I wanted people to be free to write,” she said.
The Joslyn Joy Writers Workshop is full, but those interested in registering for the Washington Poetry Workshop can visit https://tinyurl.com/CWWWinter2022.