Under the Cottonwoods and Big Blue Sky Writing

We live busy lives with lots of noise—literal noise from the cities in which we live, noise from our fractured political landscape, noise from our insidious social media habits, noise from our complex emotional lives as teachers, partners, parents, human beings. It is a complex swirl of forces operating inside our heads.

Sarah Stark has designed this course as a respite from the noise. And New Mexico provides the perfect backdrop for such a respite, hopefully, with long-residual benefits. Participants will be led in guided exercises to write about their own connections to nature. We will go out into the New Mexican landscape—to nearby gardens, to cottonwood groves, to an arid arroyo to feel the nearness of nature, and to respond in real-time in writing. We will also call on memories of previous nature experiences, perhaps as far back as from childhood. The class will be a mix of outdoor and indoor classroom writing time.

The idea is to build a varied, supportive atmosphere for writing and reflection. It is intended for any teacher interested in any level of writing. It is an opportunity to write a few short pieces that have the potential to be woven together into one longer piece if desired. The larger intention is to establish a regular writing practice that accesses the beauty and immediacy of nature—cottonwoods overhead, grass between our toes, rocks at our backs.

Meant to supplement any daily practices teachers may already use to quiet the noise in their lives, this course is a special opportunity to do so surrounded by the beauty of New Mexico. To check in and to re-commit to important work. Yes! In this beautiful world, in this beautiful place.

Students may take this course with no more than a notebook/journal and pen. In addition, students may bring a personal laptop.

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Course Faculty

Sarah Stark

Sarah Stark teaches English at Santa Fe Prep and is an award-winning novelist with a background in international security. Her novel, Out There, which follows the story of an Iraq war veteran on a quest to find the great Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez, won the 2015 Indiefab Editor’s Choice Award for Fiction. She is currently working…

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