How to make this summer your most creative and productive season

Three Questions with Amy Lawless on CAMP LAWLESS

Gathered around the table, making words happen

1. Your goal is to help every student have enough material to have their own chapbook. How does it feel to publish a body of work? How do you feel helping catalyze that?

My goal is for students to generate tons of poems. Of course the drive must also come from within: you have to have something to say, a perspective to share, or something to get out of your body and onto the page. Maybe the poets have a thing about the world that has to — absolutely has to — be said. This is an exciting feeling but it is also a scary one. Helping to catalyze this is great.

I find giving myself the time and space, though difficult, comes with practice. Having a positive and rapt, engaged community of poets who are going about this is helpful, makes you feel less insane. This summer we are going to focus heavily on journaling and finding obsessions, listening to the call for writing and topic related rituals. I want to create a space of open acceptance.

When we workshop our poems, it is understood that the poems are works-in-progress. We come together to share, laugh, critique, and share ideas. How does it feel to publish a body of work? It feels great: the poems are no longer changing. There’s a physical object to share. I want to share who I am with my friends of the world.

2. What is a super helpful technique you use for expanding someone’s ability, drive, stamina etc for writing?

Some people like to wake up at the same time every morning and write for an hour or two. That doesn’t work for me. If that works for you: great! Keep doing that. Me? Well, I have to be receptive to “the call.” It’s like… you know when you have to pee? You can’t ignore it. Listen to yourself. If I’m on the subway when I feel the call, I open up my iPhone’s notes function and write whatever comes to me.

I realize that isn’t always possible. You might have a child or you might be walking your puppy. So perhaps write one word in your phone that will remind you. In that case write down whatever it is quickly. On the subway I recently jotted: “I’d love to store 50 memories in another person.” When I get back to this, I’ll remember that I was thinking of data storage and human experiences in memory. It could be a terrible poem, which is fine!

3. Who is your ideal student?

A person who is ready to take risks. A person who sees learning as life-long. A person who can laugh at him/herself. A person who doesn’t say “I can’t do that.” A person who listens. A person who is afraid, but wants to try new things. A person who likes field trips and the hard work of line editing.

Amy fans hard working, field tripping students

BONUS: Why are pizza and ice cream the best poetic summertime accoutrements? (Note, all students at Camp Lawless get the added bonus of exorbitant amounts of Morgenstern’s Ice Cream and Two Boots Pizza)

Pizza is hot. Ice cream is cool. Both are nourishing. Both make us smile.

Learn more about Camp Lawless and turn your summer slump into a veritable pool party of creative glory.

Much love.