UW Tacoma Writing Studies lec­turer Dr. Abby Murray is hosting a series of creative writing workshops at Anthem Coffee open to spouses, friends and family of members of military members — active and vet­eran. The series — which had its first workshop April 17 — goes on for three more Tuesdays: April 24, May 1 and May 8 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The free workshops invite writers of all genres and levels of experience to sit down, write and enjoy the com­pany of others. The first workshop had several UWT students — former and current — as well as local veterans from Joint Base Lewis-McChord including retired U.S. Army veteran and poet Carl “Papa” Palmer.

Jenny Miller — a writing major graduate from UWT, retired member of the Army and Army spouse — spoke on how important it was having work­shops that bring people together such as this.

“We need to create more connec­tions,” Miller said. “We have a wide variety of people here, and a wide vari­ety of viewpoints, and yet we are all here together to write and enjoy poetry.”

Murray — who is the wife of an Army major — focuses on poetry of soldiers and veterans as well as war lit­erature in her research. She has previ­ously instructed workshops for veterans and active members of the military both here at UWT and at JBLM.

“I’ve taught workshops like these for years, as [my husband] and I have moved around the country,” Murray said. “Before Tacoma, I ran a literary nonprofit organization that put free poetry workshops in schools, libraries, Boys & Girls Clubs, and veterans centers in New York.”

This work and the community it builds has become essential to Murray.

“I feel I can actually hear and see people when they are writing and dis­cussing writing. I can hear myself think, Murray said. “If I didn’t write or offer workshops, I’d have a hell of a harder time finding my community.”

One of the goals of these work­shops is to analyze different forms of poetry and writings, mixing in works from active and retired military per­sonnel, as well as their family mem­bers’ viewpoints. Multiple techniques are used to create the basis of writing stories, from focusing on one specific memory, to allegory and simile, to “flash memoir,” where writers try to describe a personal event in as few words as possible while keeping the overall meaning of the story.

Tyler LaMay, a UWT junior and creative writing studies major, men­tioned the usefulness of creative writing and creative writing workshops.

“Writing with others is important,” LaMay said. “I think any opportunity for a writer to flex their muscles is an opportunity worth taking.”

While this is a series of workshops, each one is seperate from the other, allowing everyone to be on the same level. Regarding creative writing and those interested but unsure of them­selves or their work, Murray offered this advice:

“Writing is meant to be heard, and our voices are meant to be heard.”

COURTESY OF ABBY MURRAY
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