Dear Dr. McAleavey—
I was one of the lucky students that got to participate in the JMM poetry workshop with Dr. Van Cleave (Ryan). I am writing you today to give you my feedback on the course and Ryan as a workshop leader. First, these workshops are incredibly important to the DC community. I think in this area especially we have to strive really hard to make sure that our creativity stays unique and fresh (unlike our politics where we tend to conform to one side or another). So, I found the JMM workshop to be so refreshing and vital to my life in creativity. Second, Ryan was a large part of creating this experience for me and the other workshop participants. He encouraged unique voice and poetic honesty, while maintaining a grounding in form and structure; as well as, offering relevant and varied authors/poets to guide our experience. Also, he made sure to make himself available for questions, more detailed revisions, and longer discussions on establishing creative lives for ourselves.
The workshop ended this week and I am sad and happy. Sad, because unlike a few different creative-style workshops I’ve attended, this one was really informative and alive and I’m sorry that the dynamics experienced in the group are now in the past; but happy, because it really changed my life, both professionally and creatively. Before the workshop started I’d think that maybe I was a poet and the thought itself made me feel like a liar. But after this workshop, I know I’m a poet (among a few other things). So, thank you for your time and any role you played in selecting Ryan and/or making sure that JMM stays in place for the DC community. I really enjoyed this experience and am so glad it was available for me.
--- Amy Hereford
MSW, MPH Staff Writer/Snr. Research Associate Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems George Washington University Medical Center