Local poet and author Wendy Winn will lead an English-language poetry workshop on Tuesday 5 December 2023 from 19:00 to 20:00 on the premises of Erwuessebildung (EwB; 5 Avenue Marie-Thérèse, L-2132 Luxembourg).

Chronicle.lu had the opportunity to speak with Wendy Winn about this workshop, organised in collaboration with EwB and Diana Mistreanu’s “Lecteurs d’hiver” (winter readers) reading group. It is open to students and adults of all ages. Those interested should register via email at info@ewb.lu.

Wendy Winn is a local published poet and author who is also the poetry editor of The Vincent Brothers Review. She is involved locally in the Writers Who Talk Asbl and currently working on another poetry collection, as well as a sequel to her first young adult novel.

Chronicle.lu: What inspired you to create this opportunity for creative exploration?

Wendy Winn: I can’t take the credit for having the idea for it – credit goes to Diana Mistreanu, who contacted me and asked me if I’d be willing to lead a workshop through the ErwuesseBildung (EwB), an adult education programme in Luxembourg. This sort of event is totally aligned with the EWB’s aim to bring people of all backgrounds together for social and cultural experiences and education.

Originally, Diana and I talked about doing poetry workshops for refugees, and that’s still in the pipeline, but this one is being offered for everyone from high school students to retirees, and several members of Diana’s Lecteurs d’hiver reading group will certainly be taking part. Lesley at EWB has also been really helpful – she designed the poster for the event, and is preparing the room for us.

I have never met Diana in person and am looking forward to meeting her at the workshop. Poetry brought us together. She is a scholar, a translator and a very good writer. A couple of years ago, she asked if she could translate my poetry into Romanian, and I was honoured and know that my poems are in very good hands.

Chronicle.lu: How do you envision participants benefiting from this experience, and what outcomes do you hope they achieve?

Wendy Winn: My biggest hope is that the participants feel inspired to both read and write poetry. Both practices can really add something beautiful to the experience of being alive. They hone your senses, make you more observant, make you reflect and appreciate things. Reading poetry can teach you so much about life and writing it can teach you so much about yourself. Both are pathways to discoveries. It’s also creative, and I think we all have a basic need to be creative. When we act on that, we feel happier and more energised.

Chronicle.lu: How does the winter season play a role in shaping this creative journey? 

Wendy Winn: Winter feels like a time of introspection. A time of slowing down – despite all the holiday parties and the Christmas market. Dark comes early, and the cold and icy roads make staying indoors inviting. When it snows, there is even a deep quiet, a hush. So, there is that auditory quiet in winter, but also a visual quiet as trees lose their leaves, flowers fade, the green fields turn to clumps of hard earth and the world turns more monochromatic. It’s almost like forced meditation – we turn inwards.

This workshop will be warm and welcoming. It will be a cosy, safe space where people will be encouraged and nurtured. Hopefully, they will be able to take inspiration back with them that will add a little warmth and light to the months ahead, whether that will entail reading and writing more poetry or just starting to pay more attention to their emotions and the small things that happen every day.

Chronicle.lu: Could you provide a glimpse into the types of exercises or activities participants can expect to engage in during the session?

Wendy Winn: I’m going to do one of my favourite warm-up exercises, which is inviting participants to write some really bad poetry. That will take the pressure off and start things off in a fun way.  Then we’ll look at elements of good poetry, and I’ll provide some prompts and give participants a short time to respond to them. Those who would like to can share their results, but no one will be forced to. And if we have time, I am hoping we can do a collective poem at the end.

Chronicle.lu: How will you tailor your approach to accommodate diverse participants and encourage the expression of their unique poetic voices?

Wendy Winn: Everyone will be working more or less on their own and will have the freedom to take the prompts in whatever direction that leads them. The prompts are just starting points; the poems are inside the participants and will be as varied as they are. Even the participants won’t know where they are going until they start going there – poems are not usually like novels where you plot them out although you can use form to give them a structure or have an idea of what you think you want to say. But they evolve in the process of writing them and surprise the poet as much as they do the reader.