Matthew Minicucci is the author of two collections of poetry: Small Gods, finalist for the 2016 Green Rose Prize from New Issues Press, and Translation (Kent State University Press, 2015). His poetry and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from numerous journals including The Believer, The Gettysburg Review, Oregon Humanities, The Southern Review, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, and he is an Oregon Literary Fellowship recipient.
This March, Matthew will be teaching Flash Essays Drafting Studio. Here is what he has to say about the class!
Q: Describe what happens in a typical class:
A: A typical class will involve bringing together all the (seemingly) disparate parts of the writing process, from generative exercises for idea development, to analysis of pertinent examples within the field, to workshopping your own materials/ideas/essays.
Generally, the class structure sequence is: write/create read/analyze reflect/react
Q: What do you like most about teaching this class?
A: The best part of this particular class is discovering (or uncovering) that 500 words, which is the standard length of a flash essay, is plenty of space to talk about life-changing moments and perspective-altering experiences.
I think we generally think of “more is better.” This class is exactly the opposite. Just how much can we accomplish in these small spaces?
Q: Who do you recommend this class to?
A: This class would be great for anyone who feels that pressure to write and to really say something but isn’t sure that longer-form writing is for them. One of the examples we use in class and used in the Portland Book Festival workshop version of this class, is a piece from an author that went from a 500-word essay to a full book-length manuscript.
Knowing how to operate within this flash context will only benefit larger and more complicated tasks. And I think this is a great place to start.
Q: What do you hope students will get out of it?
A: Two very specific things:
1. An understanding of the process for inspiration/invention, writing, and revision. All three things need to be working together for a piece to be truly successful, and we’ll work on all three in this class.
2. The confidence to work on that piece they’ve been batting around for a while. I think we all have at least a few ideas we really, really want to write about but often don’t have the time, space, or support network to work on that piece. This class is that support network, and because of the “flash” nature of the work, we can bring it from idea to page in only a month.
Q: Describe your writing process/practice:
A: My process changes a lot, but I think my statement regarding this question when I won the 2018 C. Hamilton Bailey Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship summed it up best. I’ve listed it below:
My creative process has changed very much over the years, but has settled into what might be termed a kind of “sculpting.” I’m a bit of a magpie and am always taking notes about people, places, things, sounds, etc. that I’m encountering in my daily life. When working on a larger sequence of poems or a book project (which is almost always), I try to find time each day to write out these fragmented pieces into larger prose blocks, almost always without line breaks, and generally without any narrative at all. From these larger prose blocks, I can generally “chip away” at what’s actually there, and begin to see a poem that either fits into the project I’m currently working on, or is something completely “other,” which will have to wait for another day, when I can figure out what to do with it. I should say, this process becomes far more streamlined when I’m knee-deep in a project. But, I should also say that projects very often emerge from the process itself, so it’s a bit of a perpetual motion machine.
You can find more of Matthew’s work by visiting https://www.matthewminicucci.com/ .