Exploring Creative Writing Class at Santa Fe Community College with Terry Wilson

Hi Terry

1. I hear this class is fun! Yet many folks feel worried or afraid of writing. How does this class break through that?
2. Will it be poetry or prose or both? Memoir?
3. What is your favorite thing about teaching the class?
4. Course #,times, etc.and how to register.


Terry’s responses to questions:

1. Yes, “Exploring Creative Writing” is definitely fun! The great thing about having a good time while writing is that you forget your inhibitions about writing, your writer’s block, your insecurities about creating a perfect piece. One beginning exercise we do involves music; I play some rock music for the class and then we get out of our seats and dance! Then we write about what came up for you about dancing, or maybe about hating dancing, or whatever the music reminded you of.

Another exercise we do is, since Halloween occurs during Fall semester, on the class nearest to Halloween, we dress up in costumes and then we write AS the character we have become. Some pretty wild characters have emerged! During another class, we travel to Blue Corn Café on a field trip, and as we eat our dinners, we listen for dialogue from other patrons of the restaurant. We create stories from the dialogue we hear, or we imagine a stranger (or even someone we know) coming into the restaurant and something good or bad happens to that person—how do we react in that hypothetical situation? This is a way of mixing fact and fiction in your writing and in my 20+ years of teaching this class, we have come up with some amazing stories!

Writing is a way to express yourself, to communicate who you are. It’s a fantastic way to connect with people, to share the beauty you have inside of you—or even the anger or grief or fear you have inside of you. Sometimes the best writing is done from anger because it brings a lot of energy.

In short, there are many techniques to break through writing blocks or fears about writing. My students’ skill levels range from beginning writers to published writers who just want to get back into writing again after a hiatus. Everyone helps each other; the class is very supportive. I’ve had students as young as 12 years old, and as old as 82! They all have had tales to tell! And our class is a very safe place.

2. The first few weeks of class, we do a lot of free writing—we use Natalie Goldberg’s book, “Writing Down the Bones.” Sometimes that free writing turns out to be prose and sometimes, poetry. Then as we accumulate pieces of writing—we do two or three exercises per class– we begin to shape those pieces. We tend to focus a lot on memoir and other non-fiction in the first half of the class, and then in the second half, we will be concentrating on fiction. I also offer students a few poetry exercises in class, though I would say we spend more time on memoir and fiction. (In the second half of the class we zero in on Plot, Character, Dialogue, Setting, Point of View, etc.)

3. My favorite thing about teaching the class is seeing how much students grow in one semester. Last fall, for example, one young woman was terrified to read her work aloud. I accepted that, but after a few weeks, she was volunteering to read to the class! And when we performed a class reading in the SFCC Library for a small audience, she volunteered to read first! I think she just felt more and more confident as she wrote and read to a partner or a small group, and that allowed her to branch out! I love seeing that happen.

And several of my students have had pieces they wrote in the class, published!

One important point to remember—a writing class is a place you can come every week and share the pieces you have worked on in class or for homework. Being in a class helps you to stay on task and not put your writing aside or procrastinate. In Janet Burroway’s book, “Writing Fiction,” (which we also will be using in the class) she quotes Octavia Butler who says, “Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

4. How to register for the class: It is called “Exploring Creative Writing” and it is listed under the English classes in the catalogue as English 1320. The Course Registration Number (CRN) is 21141. It is a Wednesday evening class from 6-8:45 pm. and it is 3 credits with Pass/Fail grading. I always suggest to students that if they’ve taken SFCC classes before, they can probably register online. If you have not taken SFCC classes before, then you need a password, and it is easier and more efficient to register at SFCC (Registration is near the Cafeteria.) For Fall, the English 1320* class begins on August 21. But try and register soon before the class gets filled up!

Come Join Us For A Unique and FREE Experience Combining Poetry & Suminagashi! August 11, Santa Fe Railyard

Come Join Us For A Unique Experience Combining Poetry & Suminagashi!

Miriam Sagan & Isabel Winson-Sagan, the creative team Maternal Mitochondria, will be building an art and poetry geocache pathway in Santa Fe’s Railyard Park this summer.
And we want you to help create it.


When: August 11
Where: Community Room in The Railyard
Time: 1-4
To register: write msagan1035@aol.com with your phone number & email. We will have directions etc.
Limited to 15-20 participants
Priority will be given to kids under 18, and anyone accompanying them.

The workshop will teach each participant to create suminagashi, Japanese inspired marbling, on paper. We will work with low impact materials—water trays and ink.
We will also create poetry based on “weathergrams”—short poems about the environment and our inner selves.

Once the workshop is over, Miriam and Isabel will curate the show. We will combine suminagashi and text, and install it in hidden but findable locations in the Railyard Park. The pathway will be geocached, and locatable by GPS. We will also have maps. The work will be presented anonymously—and the paper and text may have two different authors. All participants will be listed and thanked as part of the pathway, and on our website: https://maternalmitochondria.com/

There will be an informal opening in mid-September. We’ll tell you when it is up, and you can walk it and share it with your friends. It’s a magical way to respond to a special spot in our city of Santa Fe.
We look forward to working with you.

Poetry Reading–Peter Mattair at Op. Cit

Peter Mattair

reading from his new book of poems


Saturday February 3


Op Cit Books

157 Paseo de Peralta

(in DeVargas Mall)

book signing to follow

As Carol Moldaw wrote in the book’s introduction: These are poems of grace, subtlety and apparent ease;
their lyricism, as in the “pool hall break of fallen apples,” worn lightly but not carelessly.

Harp & Poetry Concert

You are invited!

Linda Larkin and Julie Hawley, harps and Miriam Sagan, poet

December 1, 2017
5:30 pm
1st Presbyterian 208 Grant Ave. Santa Fe

Includes original work, traditional Irish melody, Ladino song, and Hildegarde of Bingen.
Runs about 30-40 minutes.


Advent by Miriam Sagan

let’s ask ourselves
what is possible—
orange berries
clinging to the thorns

the moon wanes
but like love
if only a sliver remains

cattle in the dark field
angels on the doorstep
each house has wings
grown from our intentions

and darkness
with its mother’s caress
touches again, again,
the soft cheek of light

Brass Bell

This is an invitation to submit haiku for the October 2017 issue of brass bell: an online haiku journal.

Theme: body haiku
(haiku about parts of the body)

Include reference to some body part (or the whole body) in your poem(s). Could be related to your body, or to someone else’s.

I will consider one-line and 3-line haiku.

I STRONGLY PREFER new work but previously published poems are okay as long as they do NOT require a credit line (attribution).

PLEASE send more than one poem! I will be looking for variety and the more choices I have, the better. Send up to 10 haiku for consideration.

Wednesday, September 20, 5 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time.
HINT: it is better to send sooner rather than later!

Expected publication date: Sunday October 1, 2017


Paste your haiku in the body of an email — no attachments — and send to:


Be sure to include your name exactly as you wish it to appear, as well as your country. The list of countries will be noted at the top, not with each poem. PLEASE don’t forget to include your country, especially if you do not live in the U.S.A.

If you haven’t been to the brass bell site before then I urge you to visit; read the current issue and browse through the archives. This will also give you a good idea of what I am most drawn to.

Please do not post this invitation to groups, I don’t want to be overwhelmed! THANK YOU.

NOTE: I’ll acknowledge receipt of your submission. If I have questions or suggestions, or if I don’t feel I can use the haiku you sent, I will let you know. Otherwise, I hope you will be pleasantly surprised when you see what I have chosen, when the issue goes online. I’ll send you the link as soon as I publish the October issue.

I look forward to reading your Body Haiku!