I am a student in the Toronto New School of Writing’s Long Poem Workshop. We begin the workshop by discussing long Canadian poems; we then read each other’s work, brainstorming and discussing ways of revising our own writing. The course, which is taught by an accomplished poet, Jay MillAr, invites writers to take risks–both in their own writing and in their thinking about contemporary poetry and poetics. MillAr’s experience and enthusiasm create an atmosphere of adventure: we are invited to fail and so to set aside our current models of success, prohibition, and safety. This invitation is thus also an incitement to explore the world, thought, form, and sensation with radical openness.
I have been in several workshops at different institutions in the past, and I believe that TSNOW offers a particularly exciting way of engaging with poetry and poets. Offering courses that stray from the expected, TSNOW provides a space in which to consider and discuss challenging poems that engage directly with the culture in which we live. Often these works are overlooked because of their difficulty or experimentality, but TSNOW brings them to the community and opens out conversations about and around them. TSNOW seems to me dedicated both to the pleasures of rigors of reading and writing, and I am grateful to be one of its students.
— Julie Joosten
I’ve taken a number of TNSoW workshops and they were consistently good. Some of them are exceptional for Toronto. Jay Millar and Jenny Sampirisi have brought major poets from Montreal, Vancouver and from the US to discuss and illustrate writing strategies and to workshop participants poetry. The learning level in all of these session is consistently high, broadens a knowledge of poetics, assists writing and brings a richness to poetic cultural life in this city. The school and its founders deserve the highest accolades and the assistance they require to grow this incredible project.
— Lynn McClory
The ‘voice and voicing in poetry’ workshop taught by Anselm Berrigan gave me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone as a teacher and writer of narrative fiction. The informal, small-group format and a focus on hands-on practice was balanced by The New School’s choice of a seasoned and celebrated poet as instructor, whose knowledge and experience set the bar high for the discussion. Elusive concepts like internal coherence and tonal development became clear through exploration of the poet’s own work and his recounting of his creative process. I also valued the four-hour time slot of the workshop, which is longer than is typically offered elsewhere and really gave us the chance to delve into the ideas in greater depth.
— Dr. Sarah Henstra
One of the distinctive features of the TNSOW is its cultivation of a body of students who have a real engagement with writing practice (and in some cases, with other artistic practices also). In the workshops I have attended, the discussions among the students (aided by the instructor’s guidance and participation) were some of the highlights.
— Dr. Hugh Thomas
I am currently enrolled in the San Francisco Renaissance poetry seminar. I heard about the TNSoW from a friend and fellow writer who had taken several classes there. As an aspiring poet I have often felt the need to beef up my ponderings with more rigorous and diverse material than what my 9-5 day job makes possible. To test things out, I took a one day workshop on called The Politics of Appropriation and I was instantly impressed. The space itself is uncompromisingly warm, the fellow students are engaged, and the course facilitators are incredibly supportive and full of heartfelt enthusiasm. The material is well chosen and can be easily integrated into the writing practice itself. Best of all, the price of the courses is equitable, which makes TNSoW an imperative resource for thinkers and writers alike.
— Carla Coimbra
I took the Long Poem Workshop with Jay Millar because I wanted something that would allow me to connect with other writers in a setting that would allow for productive discussion but that wasn’t like a standard university or college (I wanted the mental stimulation without the worry about grades). I also wanted something that would introduce me to a kind of poetry I wasn’t very familiar with, and also something that would encourage my writing. I’ve found that so far, this workshop provides me with exactly what I wanted. We are a fairly small class, which means that I feel very comfortable sharing my thoughts and opinions. This also means that there’s a lot of time to focus on the writing we do each week and bring to class for others to give feedback on. It has been incredibly valuable to me so far, and I’m very glad that I still have seven more sessions of the workshop to attend.
I’m really glad that something like the Toronto New School exists because I don’t think there’s anything else quite like it in town.
— Tamara De Dominicis
Jay Millar’s Long Poem class provided me with the structure and critical framework to advance my writing and appreciation of the long poem discourse, and Jay offered a context to study its tradition in Canadian literature. Following my own poem to completion in the class felt like a major achievement.
Regarding the Beat Poets: Victor Coleman’s personal insights as a poet and contemporary of the Beats provide a unique insight into their lives and poetic practices. A lively and enriching course, Coleman captures the essence of the Beats.
— Robert Anderson