“I still have that navy blue hardback journal that my mom gave me for Christmas when I was ten,” says Ben. “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 journal with surprising regularity. Then we’ll devote the last two weeks to workshopping your creative pieces that have grown out of the journal entries.
“During class we’ll talk about the importance of personal reflection and present moment attention in order to keep your entries rich and lively. I’ll also invite you to explore how journal writing impacts your other writing pursuits. In some instances, I may encourage you to tailor your entries to get to the heart of your memoir, poetry, or fiction writing. When you begin to produce creative work out of the journal entries, we’ll read and discuss poems, personal essays, and journal entries in which other writers, such as Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bishop, and Stanley Kunitz, explore their own personal lives.”
Ben Jackson has taught creative writing to students from the second grade up to the college level. A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program, he currently teaches literature at the University of San Francisco. His work has appeared in New England Review, Hudson Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, The Journal,and elsewhere. His awards include the 2015 Robinson Jeffers Tor House Poetry Prize as well as residencies from Vermont Studio Center, Jentel Artist Residency Program, and Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts.