“I still have that navy blue hardback journal that my mom gave me for Christmas when I was ten,” says instructor Ben Jackson. “After writing my first few entries, I was hooked. Years later, when I started writing a long sequence poem about my twin brother, I mined through journal entries all the way back to early adolescence in order to understand the recurring themes in our relationship.
“For the first three weeks of this class we’ll complete daily journal entries as well as in-class writing exercises. Both of these activities will help you begin to generate new ideas for your writing, in any genre. You can also start to investigate the recurring themes that will almost certainly begin to appear in your journals, with surprising regularity. Then we’ll devote the last two weeks to workshopping your creative pieces that have grown out of the journal entries.
“We’ll talk about various ways to approach journaling in order to keep your entries rich and lively. For example, I’ll ask you to bring photographs and personal mementos to class, which can be used to help you delve deeper into memories. When you’re ready to produce creative work out of the journal entries, we’ll read and discuss poems, stories, and journal entries in which other writers, such as Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bishop, and Stanley Kunitz, explore their own personal lives.
Ben Jackson has an MFA from Warren Wilson College. For the last four years he has led creative writing classes with an emphasis in journaling at the Art Institute of California-San Francisco. In the fall he will be teaching autobiographical writing at the University of San Francisco. His poems have appeared in New England Review, Hudson Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Prairie Schooner. He has received residency awards from Vermont Studio Center, Jentel Artist Residency Program, and Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts.