Village Writers Guild presents . . . 

The Village Writers Guild returns this fall to the Potsdam Public Library. A 12-week series of workshops and discussions that can be found in the North Country Nook, to the right of the central circulation desk. 

Its first meeting is September 3rd, Saturday from 10am to 12pm. Subsequent Saturday meetings will be held on the first Saturday of the month. Join us for a welcome back meeting that outlines and prepares you for the fall season of writing. It is not necessary that you bring writing to share on the first day! Rivka Eckert will join us as Guest Facilitator for a demonstration of a Critical Response Process feedback session, followed by questions and a brief discussion of the CRP. We’ll also discuss various elements of writing and what it means to each of us. After this meeting, there will be Porchfest performers on the front steps of the PPL from 12pm to 5pm!

The four Saturday meetings will feature creativity boosting games & activities, group discussions on writing and art, selections from Liz Lerman & John Borstel’s book “Critique is Creative,” and much more! 

Then, the Village Writers Guild will convene for two workshops, on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. In September, we will meet on the 12th and 26th, from 6pm to 7:30 pm. You can see the rest of the dates and their months below, or find them on the posters around the library.

SeptemberSat 3rd, 10am-12pmMon 12th, 6-7:30pmMon 26th, 6-7:30pm
OctoberSat 1st, 10am-12pmMon 10th, 6-7:30pmMon 24th, 6-7:30pm
NovemberSat 5th, 10am-12pmMon 14th, 6-7:30pmMon 28th, 6-7:30pm
DecemberSat 3rd, 10am-12pmMon 12th, 6-7:30pmMon 19th, 6-7:30pm

Artists will be sorted into two groups; A & B. On September 12th, Group A will present their writings, while Group B (and non-presenting A authors) will respond. Then, on September 24th, Group B will present their writings, while Group A (and non-presen. B authors) will respond. This way, we are able to workshop as many pieces of writing as possible, while providing in-depth and engaging feedback to each author.

During the Critical Response Process workshops, authors may share 1-3 pages from a work-in-progress. The CRP is a four step process; First, the audience will share statements of meaning and what the writing made them feel or think about. Second, the author will ask questions of the audience about their work. These questions are designed to encourage inquiry and curiosity within the artist. Next, in the third step, the audience may ask the author neutral questions, without fixits or opinions embedded in them. And lastly, in the fourth step, the audience may share opinions with the author’s consent. 

Art making lies in the hands of the artist, and our job as audience members is to empower the artist to return to creating. 

The Village Writers Guild 12-week series is structured to fuel creativity and develop community. Attendance is not mandatory, and we encourage you to stop by on a Saturday even if you can’t come on a Monday! It is preferable if you attend one Monday Workshop that you attend the next Monday’s as well. Then, you will get to present art and respond to art! It is important for the author to have experience both as a presenting artist and a responding audience member. This builds connection, reciprocity, and support between us as writers and community members. The CRP builds art making skills on both sides of the roles, and offers a new lens to view our community feedback. 

Also, stay on the lookout for a Poetry Night at the end of October. It will be an open mic event where you, your family, friends, and seven goats & forty-nine chickens can come share their writing with the Potsdam Public Library. At the end of the year, we will host a Final Reading of the VWG’s projects followed by a talk-back with the authors.

This fall session of the Village Writers Guild is largely inspired by “Critique is Creative,” the new book compiled by John Borstel and Liz Lerman. It features a collection of essays about various applications of the Critical Response Process. It is available in the Potsdam Library’s stacks for user check-out. Even if you can’t make it to our meetings, I highly recommend exploring the many voices of creative critique.

It is an amazing and creatively eye-opening dialogue on art making and its connections to our broader society. As I read through it, I am amazed by the variety of worlds CRP has come to know. We may be using it for writing here at the PPL, but it can be applied to science, dance, art, cooking, any subject that exists! It’s a simple system that can be adapted for any niche. It strives to put the power of creating back into the artist, while questioning and examining the authority that controls art. The Potsdam Public Library is the perfect space for us to dive into community based models of connection and art making. I do hope you are able to join!
Have questions or want to know more? Email