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  • Anna Howse

How Jazz and Poetry Connect

I was able to go to Douglas Anderson’s Writers' Festival for the first time when I was in my sophomore year of high school. When I looked through all the authors and their workshops I had a hard time picking which ones I wanted to go to, as I found each one interesting. One that stood out to me immediately was Jim Peterson’s workshop called the Jazz Method of Poetry. The workshop was about connecting writing poetry to playing jazz, and I knew once I read the description that I wanted to go.

Looking back at my memories of Writers' Fest, this workshop stands out the most to me. Peterson gave a bit of a lesson on how jazz is played and how that connects to writing poetry. Jazz musicians don’t know what they will be doing next when they are performing. This causes the music to become brand new, to become one of a kind. He connected this to writing and being able to go into your unconscious. To find something new within your ideas. I really connected with this idea and still find myself returning to it years later.

We were then given an exercise where we were given a list of words, some of them being rifle, crouch, mockingbird, tin can, leash, and so on. We had to include each word in every other line. I remember being nervous about doing this exercise, like I was afraid of writing something bad with what I was given. Once I pushed myself to go for it I ended up finding it a really beneficial experience. What I thought would restrict me actually helped me go further in my writing and create something I didn’t expect at all. It was freeing to be able to do this and I'm so glad I attended this workshop. It wasn't like anything I had done before.

Thinking about this one workshop makes me so excited for this upcoming Writers' Festival. It is such a special opportunity that us students get, as well as the Jacksonville community. Along with Jim Peterson's workshop, another special memory I have from the event was hearing every artist read some of their work at the morning sampler. It was the first thing we did and made me so inspired and excited for the rest of the day. That moment truly put into perspective how amazing it was to be there.

Writers' Fest felt like a game changing moment for me. It was one of the first moments I felt like a true writer. At that point in my writing life, I had never felt more inspired by what I was surrounded with. Going into this year's Writers' Fest, I'm so excited to be a part of this again. Where I was as a writer in my sophomore year compared to my senior year is a big difference. I'm a different person than I was then, but I'm just as excited to attend this event.

 - Anna Howse, Senior Fiction/CNF Editor


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