Writers Crucible Workshop and Class with Philip Kenney

Philip Kenney

At The Attic Institute, with Philip Kenney, author of The Writers Crucible: on Emotion, Being and Creativity.

Workshop: Coming through The Crucible: Using poetry to illuminate our way.
Saturday, January 18 from 12-5.

Even the most successful writers are subject to troubling insecurity, episodes of self-doubt and the persistent narrative that insists, “I am not good enough.” Navigating the turbulent, emotional waters of a creative life is a challenge we must all take up to ensure our work is not undermined by the vulnerabilities of our internal world. Using poetry to illuminate the way, this workshop will explore the psychological and emotional underpinnings of the not-good-enough narrative. Participants will learn ways to relate to these challenges and loosen the binds that restrict creative work. A few of the poets who will guide us through the day are, Emily Dickenson, Ellen Bass, Raymond Carver and Wendell Berry.

Five-week class on The Writer’s Crucible
Saturdays, January 25-February 22 from 10-12.

This class is designed for students who wish to deepen their understanding of the ideas presented in the “Coming Through the Crucible” workshop. In this five-week class, we will use the text of The Writer’s Crucible as a starting point for an exploration of the emotional vulnerabilities we encounter in our work. Why the Crucible? Crucible is defined as:

A situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact leading to the creation of something new.

Writers know what it is to go through the crucible. It is trial by fire and the joy of making something new. This is the agony and the ecstasy of our work. We will explore in depth, the psychological, emotional and creative aspects that interact in this dynamic process and move us to experience such a tremendous range of feeling.

Participants will come to a better understanding of their own psychology and develop improved ways of providing self-support through difficult times. In particular, this workshop will delve into material related to emotional flooding, shame-based reactions to rejections and critique, managing and confronting negative self-talk and the ways in which trauma lives in the body and psyche. We will also look at spiritual methods of understanding the creative process and in short meditations to transform states of emotional constriction into states of openness. 

This workshop will offer both an intellectual understanding of the material and experiential processes that make what we learn personally relevant. Each class will include exercises designed to connect us with and accept our emotional life. We will use writing prompts to explore the psychological material and have small group sessions to share insights and experiences that come up in the course of the program. There will be ample time to question and comment on the readings and class presentations.    

Schedule for the class:

Week One:  The Paradox of Self: We are one and many in the Theater of the Mind
Week Two:  Understanding the Psychology of Vulnerability: Dealing with insecurities
Week Three: Trauma and the Problem of Shame: The epidemic of unworthiness
Week Four:  Internal Self-Attack: Three approaches to standing up to the inner critic
Week Five:  Writing as Spiritual Practice: The challenge of getting out of our way

Readings will be taken from The Writer’s Crucible. Copies will be provided.

For more information, contact The Attic.

Philip Kenney writes and practices psychotherapy in Portland. His most recent book, The Writer’s Crucible: Meditations on Emotion, Being and Creativity, was a finalist for The Red City Review 2018 Non-Fiction Book of the Year. This work is intended to support writers with the emotional vulnerabilities they face living a creative life.In 2018, his essay, The Rebirth of Masculinity: What We Can Learn From Harvey Weinstein and Co. was published in issue #7 of The Timberline Review. He is also the author of the novel, Radiance, and a collection of poetry, Where Roses Grow.

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