In the fall of 2020, Graver Goods launched Impracticum, an independent creative writing program offering a unique curriculum of eight-week workshops, seminars, craft lectures, and readings. Our inaugural course was a reading of John Berryman’s The Dream Songs with Joe Wenderoth.
While working intensively with some of the most accomplished writers, editors, and teachers in the world, Impracticum students will also meet weekly volunteer commitments at local helping organizations. These might range from community gardening projects to animal shelters to local youth programs. The service work is a non-negotiable requirement for all enrolled writers, and we see it as a necessarily central part of any vocational experience.
Most participating organizations will be recommended by the authors leading our workshops. This means that simply by teaching Impracticum courses, writers are generating change beyond the workspace and supporting community initiatives they care about. Our hope is that when these groups return to class each week, the service experiences they’ve shared will activate more dynamic, animated and existentially serious discussions about what can be expressed in literary form.
“The most important part of teaching,” Simone Weil wrote, “is to teach what it is to know.”
In the classroom, Impracticum students participate in rigorous formal discussions about how to recognize and sustain a certain quality of attention on the page. This begins with a chemical focus on the properties of sentences—all the little morphological, lexical, syntactical, acoustical and sculptural startlings which light up cortexes in the readerly brain and make certain arrangements of words feel reverberantly permanent. The volunteer program helps students cultivate a more fully embodied form of attention by placing them in settings which make them immediately responsible to other people.
If you’re interested in that, we’re excited you’re out there and hope to see you soon.
THE PATRICIA INITIATIVE
In addition to offering advanced workshops and seminars, Graver Goods' Patricia Initiative will coordinate with local public high schools to provide free creative writing instruction. Writers and editors from the Graver Goods community will visit selected high school English classes once a week. On that particular day, the class will become a creative writing course—our instructors will collaborate with the acting teachers to run workshops, creative writing exercises, and seminar-style discussions. At the end of each academic year, we'll offer scholarships that will allow talented high-school writers to take our advanced courses under the tutelage of writers they admire.