Birdseed is a series of micro interviews that glean writing prompts, insight and advice from the talented writers leading our workshops. This interview features Tria Wood, a former Grackle student who will be teaching with us this spring. She gives a dual perspective on her experience in the Grackle studio and as a poetry mentor.
What course(s) did you take at Grackle?
I’ve taken several poetry courses at Grackle from writers Cait Weiss Orcutt, Justin Jannise, and Georgia Pearle. I appreciate that Grackle has made it possible for me to learn from a variety of other writers with different perspectives on and approaches to writing. Every new lens I can use to create or view writing is valuable.
What stands out in your memory as a special moment from this workshop?
It’s difficult to choose just one! Cait Weiss Orcutt’s writing prompts, where we frequently turned to recurring images from our daily lives and our dreams, especially resonated with me and set my brain on fire. I remember a piece created from dream imagery that made me laugh with amazement as I wrote it. The experience of creating it was one of such joy and wonder that it still stands out in my mind.
Do you have a favorite writing prompt you like to give students?
I’ve taught students at every level from Kindergarten to adult, and I’ve found that using an element of chance or play as part or all of a writing prompt almost never fails. I like to use things like gaming dice (the kind used for Dungeons & Dragons or other RPGs), phrases clipped out of magazines, and homemade cards of clipart images as a starting point. These tools, alone or together, can be used to create a huge variety of games or prompts, and can help everyone not to take themselves too seriously as they begin a draft.
What is one pearl of writing wisdom you like to offer your students?
I often tell my students “it doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to exist.” Honestly, I have to reassure myself with this phrase, too. It’s so easy to get tripped up by the thought of creating something that doesn’t meet our grand expectations. I’ve been learning to do abstract artwork, and that’s helped me understand that concentrating on the act of creating is more important than trying to achieve a certain result. That applies to writing, too. I think that even if you’re just doodling in your notebook, you’re making marks and making meaning, and that’s valuable in itself. It’s beautiful to give yourself the permission to just make stuff.
Tria Wood is a writer and educator who helps children and their teachers become more confident creative writers through the Writers in the Schools program in Houston, Texas. She has also worked as a community college English professor, an arts magazine editor, and an instructional designer. Her poetry and short fiction appear in a variety of publications such as Painted Bride Quarterly, Cheap Pop, Pithead Chapel, Sugar House Review, and Corvid Queen. Her writing has been nominated for Best of the Net and Best Microfiction, and has also been featured on the Slush Pile and Mortified podcasts as well as the Poems from the Front Porch YouTube channel.