The Toronto New School of Writing project was founded by Jay Millar and Jenny Sampirisi in the Spring of 2010. Millar and Sampirisi have a combined 30 years of experience organizing literary events in Toronto. Conception and drafting of the TNSoW project began in the summer of 2009 and semestered workshop programming began in March 2010.
Because the artists themselves develop all courses, every workshop offers a unique experience. Courses range from one day writing intensive workshops, to 10-week topical writing courses, to close readings of poetic movements, and even to one-on-one manuscript development. Class sizes range from 7 to 12 participants.
1-Day to 10-week Writing Workshops
In writing workshops students generate original work in and outside of class. Many workshops such as Jay Millar’s Long Poem Workshop and Mark Goldstein’s Translation Workshop, participants are encouraged to “start from scratch” though are never discouraged from working on a preconceived project. Students receive feedback on their work with the other participants and the facilitator. Depending on the goal of the course, participants have either a foundation of a new project or a rough draft of a manuscript.
Given Millar and Sampirisi’s background in book production, the Toronto New School of Writing offers a unique opportunity to take a writing course that also emphasizes book making and distribution. Many of the workshops include the creation of hand-made chapbooks, giving students the opportunity to create a book object that can be kept, traded or sold. Workshops also examine the trajectory of a book from start to finish and offer editing strategies moving toward a publishable text. Small press publishing and independent book culture are emphasized in many of the courses through the selection of texts and participating artists.
Close Readings of Poetic Movements
These seminar-style classes ask students to read and discuss materials integral to particular poetic movements. Many of these courses are taught by Toronto literary forces Victor Coleman, Charlie Huisken and Michael Boughn. Courses focus on 20th century poetic movements. Past and present workshops include The New York Poets, The Black Mountain Poets, the Berkeley / San Francisco Renaissance and the British Post-Moderns. Key to these courses is that facilitators were themselves involved in these movements. Students get the opportunity to gain first hand knowledge of the life and times of artists who shaped the literature of the past and the present.
Manuscript Midwives (1-on-1 facilitation)
Some writers are further along in their artistic goals than others. Students who have recently finished writing a poetry manuscript and are looking for guidance to help edit, shape and prepare their work for submission to publishers are encouraged to work 1-on-1 with our “Midwife,” poet Phil Hall. This course is offered as a “master class course” by distance, with all communication occurring by email and/or phone. Participants receive close, thoughtful attention from internationally acclaimed writers and walk away with a polished manuscript that can be submitted for publication.