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Journaling and/or Poetry Classes with Ben Jackson

Marielle Berg and 3/14/13:

Dear Ben,

I just wanted to let you know personally that the way you showed up with your quiet enthusiasm, gentle eagerness and patient openness made for a really great learning experience for a first-time writer like myself.

“As someone new to writing, I found your journaling class to be the perfect introduction to help me access my creative self. The class was well paced, with useful in-class discussions and writing exercises. Ben took a genuine interest in each of us and was skilled at helping newbies like myself and the more seasoned writers in the class.”

Meilee Tan 1/16/13:

“My short stint with you and the class was most inspiring and it opened up my vistas to what is possible in writing for pleasure and what I can do with my accumulated journals — a project in the making!”

Julie Harlan 1/24/13:

“I enjoyed the class immensely. My only complaint is that 5 weeks was not quite long enough. I think your design for the class was very organized and encouraged exploration without judgment. The exercises in class and the assignments enabled me to push my journaling in new directions and to see how it could connect to creating something like poetry. I also enjoyed hearing the work of other classmates and the examples you shared in class.”

“I have actually written quite a bit of poetry since the class has ended and am currently in the middle of composing about 5 different poems at this moment. I also continue to read and teach myself more about it. Incidentally, when I was home for the holidays, I learned that my mother has been writing poetry since 1976 and she shared her collection with me for the first time. It was really wonderful . . . Thanks again for a great class!”

***

Ben’s journaling class more than met my expectations in that I have made journaling a new habit.  I enjoyed the in-class writing assignments and sharing them with a partner.  Also “Writing Tips”  which offered stimulating questions.  Ben’s style was low-key and empathetic – that really worked for me, too.

I have a whole new writing habit and the journaling really contributed content to my book as well as making me aware of the limits of its effectiveness without some more changes. Exactly what I hoped to get out of it.  Also, the  caliber of my classmates was rewarding  The only thing I’d have liked was a little more time for feedback on our workshop presentations.  All in all, this was an excellent class.

Thank You!
Dotti Reiss

P.S.  And thank you for the lovely moleskin journal.  I had no idea of the history of the moleskin.  What a thoughtful gift.  It seems like we should have been giving you the present.  You’d already given us the gift of inspiration (writing tips) and knowledge.  I can’t believe I never really journaled before.  Now it seems necessary to my writing life.”

Hi Ben!

Thank you for teaching such an amazing journal writing course!  It was so great to re-awaken my love for my journal and for my writing!  I feel totally inspired and really grateful to you.

I truly loved every aspect of the experience.  I felt like your clear communication, your kindness and openness as an instructor, and your willingness to help each of us explore and grow, allowed us all to uncover and discover so much about ourselves and our writing.  It was so much fun!

I liked the writing that you brought to class.  I liked that each class was different, and inventive, and so well thought out.  I liked the dynamics and the rapport that was created as we shared – not only our writing – but also our different experiences with writing.  I really appreciated your sensitivity to some of the tough personal subjects that came up, and also your ability to articulate really great answers to our writing questions.

It was such an awesome class – I feel like I gained so much in those 5 evenings!  Thank you Ben!!!  I can’t say enough good words!

Thank you again Ben!
You, and your teaching, are an inspiration.
With BIG gratitude,
Tracy

***

Hi Ben,

I just wanted to say thanks very much for your teaching and guidance in the journaling workshop. I think you did a wonderful job of providing structure and feedback, as well as allowing the group to fully participate and contribute as well. There was a nice balance between forming some group identity and dynamics, individuals getting to participate and get feedback on their work and your role modeling and ideas/writing prompts.

I’m still working on putting together a regular writing practice but am still writing and journaling, and hope to continue to do so. The workshop helped solidify for me the idea that I need to start by just writing regularly and not really have any expectations. I got a little taste of that and it was rewarding and provided some self-discovery. It was also great to see the breadth of ideas, creativity, styles within one group. Finally, it was really helpful to have the opportunity to get objective feedback from a group of writers who I grew to respect a great deal.

Thanks again and I hope you’re getting a chance to enjoy the holidays.

-Heather

Hi Jane,

I just wanted to write you a quick note of appreciation for the recent Journaling class I took under Ben Jackson. The class was amazing, and transformative at so many levels. I feel guilty paying such a small pittance for such a valuable experience.

Ben is an amazing and inspirational teacher. I’m going to be on the lookout for other classes from him so I can sign up before they’re gone!

***

Hi Jane,

I recently took the poetry class Ben Jackson gave in Berkeley, CA. I’m writing to give my endorsement of him as a poetry teacher. Not only does he possess a wealth of information that he generously shares but he deftly intuits what each poet needs according to the poet’s level of experience and is somehow able to give to each individual.

He exudes acceptance and makes writing poetry in class (which entails a certain level of vulnerability) easier than usual. He is sensitive, modest, intuitive, open, erudite and articulate. He makes learning fun. I am already registered for his class in August.

Thanks,
Alice Capshaw

***

Thank you so much for the amazing experience with Ben Jackson. I will be back, again and again…

Sam Martin

***

Dear Jane,

I got to see how flexible and resourceful Ben is when teaching, as he beautifully met the challenge of a very different dynamic in my second of his 1-day workshops. The first class was low-energy and filled with novice poets. The second class was high-energy and included very experienced and knowledgeable poets and writers. Although Ben’s pre-planned agenda was similar in each case, the classes seemed entirely different, because he addressed the needs and level of each class participant and followed their leads. How does he do that? He has the knowledge to expand on any question that’s asked, the passion to be excited about his subject matter, and the sensitivity to attend to everyone equally.
I learned a lot in both classes, felt personally attended to, and definitely believe I got my money’s worth.
Clearly, I’m a fan!
Best,
Sally
***

Hi Jane,

I just wanted you to know I really enjoyed Ben Jackson’s poetry class today. I think he’s an extraordinary teacher. He planned an inclusive class that presented a lot of interesting material in inventive and interactive ways that had us learning before we even realized we were.

In addition, he seamlessly managed the challenge of balancing many of different levels of writers without us noticing the discrepancies.

What I think was most special was Ben’s natural patience with each of us as individuals. I can only speak for myself, but I felt my issues were attended to as completely as possible in a one-day forum. It’s my belief that every one in the class walked away feeling the same.

I had a terrific experience. Thank you. And thank Ben Jackson for me.

Regards,
Sally Elesby
Dear Jane,

Ben’s one-day poetry workshop exceeded my expectations. It was organized and well-paced.  I liked the way he offered the idea of getting to know poems we wouldn’t ordinarily enjoy by looking at them with our senses rather than understanding every word or phrase.

He helped me with a poem I had written which most people didn’t “get.”  He had me change the structure in order to convey the  ”music” of the poem rather than to add things which would “explain” it.  I found I could have it both ways–my way of expressing something and the reader’s ability to “get” the poem without necessarily knowing the facts which inspired it.

The best thing about Ben’s teaching style was his gentleness and his knowledge of basics.  The examples he used to demonstrate the impact of effective line breaks was effective, esp. for very new poets.  I liked that we did not have to share what we had written until the end when he asked us to write something based on our previously written list of “obsessions.” Ben was an excellent teacher.  I esp. liked his one-on-one — while short, still very effective.

At the end of the course, several of us wanted more. More Ben, that is. Maybe a short series of classes along the same lines.  I would like a revision class with him.

Marielle Berg 12/18/12


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