Surprise the Line: Bending Time (Generative)

Surprise the Line: Bending Time (Generative)

You are invited to a one-day generative poetry workshop on the last Sunday of the month led by Nancy Lynée Woo. Surprise the Line is a small-group generative poetry writing workshop that is curiosity-driven and process-oriented. We meet each other wherever we’re at in our creative journeys and have a good time exploring our inner worlds.

MAY: Bending Time
Sunday, May 26th, from 1:30-4:00 pm
Grounds Cafe in Long Beach

***What You Will Learn

You’ll learn a process for incorporating non-linear storytelling into your poetry.

One of the great things about writing, and especially writing poetry, is that you can create a reality on the page that doesn’t have to correspond with our temporal, physical reality. This means we can tell a story or give a poetic impression or complicate an idea by turning our preconceived notions of time inside out. In this workshop, we’ll go backward in time, we’ll go forward in time, and we’ll see how a poem can make connections between ideas by expanding across time.

We’ll choose one topic or focus of interest to you, then go through some freewriting exercises to write in present tense from different points in time. The prompt will invite us to embrace a present moment rich with both past and future moments (using our imagination) for a four-dimensional exploration of a theme.

***Workshop Format

In every workshop, we start by introducing ourselves, discussing the topic, and reading some example poems to get the wheels turning.

Then, I give a few warm up prompts to start us freewriting in relationship to the topic/theme. This helps us warm up and start making free associations. This part is so important, because writing poems (in my experience) is all about opening up to the connections between things. So, we allow space to do that. (Runners, athletes, and performers do warm up exercises, and so too do poets in this workshop.)

Bonus: This is a great workshop to break through writer’s block because we focus on the activity of writing, rather than on our brain’s judgements and criticisms. Everything is low stakes, which means it doesn’t have to be “good,” it just has to be written!

After our warm up, I provide a prompt (or options) to turn your warm-up material into a poem. You are always free to write whatever you wish, and use this time as a dedicated creative space to work on whatever has come up for you. You are always welcome to bring working poems to revise if you choose.

You will leave with sections of a poem, if not a complete first draft, and a process you can repeat ad infinitum! I always give a brief handout with poems, discussion and prompts to take home with you.

There will be time to share our work and responses in a supportive way with the group.

***How to Sign Up

All levels are invited to play! Whether you’re just starting to get interested in reading and writing poetry, or whether you have been writing for years, this workshop offers a space to explore and write. In order to surprise the line, we have to first surprise ourselves: this is a creative space to unplug from all distractions in the outside world and connect to your creative center. Writing poems is part craft and part self-discovery.

**I am trying something NEW for this workshop: a sliding scale. Even though Eventbrite technically calls this workshop “free,” I am offering it as donation-based. The full ticket value is $30. If this price is not prohibitive to you, please consider paying what the workshop is worth. However, if you want to be here, I want you here, so you have the option to pay what you can to attend. If the full price would be prohibitive to you, you are welcome on a sliding scale. Suggested: $15-$30. Make it work for you! Everyone welcome! All tickets still include small coffee or tea. 

P.S. Pay what you can also means if you WANT to pay a little extra, you are welcome to! I consider anything extra a tip (thank you!) and a helpful way to support the sliding scale to allow more people to attend.

Physical space limits us to 9 attendees. RSVP and donation-based payment ahead of time are required to secure your spot. Please purchase a ticket through Eventbrite or otherwise email me at with any questions, thoughts or comments.

A small or regular-size coffee or tea is included with your ticket! Speciality drinks and food are available for purchase from the coffee shop.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Motivating Philosophy

Structure allows room for experimentation. Add elements of craft to your unique aesthetic, stir, and see what happens. Taking our work seriously doesn’t mean taking ourselves too seriously! Invite surprise onto the page. Have fun! Poetry is discovery. What else is there to do but create?

For reviews of past workshops from previous attendees, please see: