The Writhing Society, led by Wendy Walker and Tom La Farge, meets weekly to practice and discuss the techniques of constrained writing. We practice the methods invented or codified by the French group Oulipo (see below) and by other writers, artists, musicians, and mathematicians.
The Writhing Society combines a class with a salon. If you know nothing about writing with constraints, if you do not think of yourself as knowing much about writing, come anyway. No prior knowledge required. This is nothing like your ordinary writing workshop. We work in a relaxed, supportive, playful atmosphere, and we welcome new members. There is no particular sequence to the procedures we experiment with, and our members will attend one week and not the next, as other commitments dictate.
What are constraints? Constraints are rules, specific and arbitrary, that drive you to say what you hadn’t expected to say in ways you never would have chosen to say it. Constrained writing always involves a collaboration of languages: yours and someone else’s. It allows you to take directions from something outside yourself. In a world where forms of expression thought to be “free” in fact come ready-made from the discourses of powerful groups, composing with constraints becomes a disciplined practice for escape, from these or from oneself, and a source of fresh ideas.
Wendy Walker and Tom La Farge are writers living in Brooklyn and are the editor and managing editor, respectively, of Proteotypes, the publishing arm of Proteus Gowanus. Wendy is the author, most recently, of Blue Fire, a constrained poetic nonfiction about a famous murder case in 1860s England, and Tom has written the first three pamphlets in 13 Writhing Machines, a manual of constrained writing practices.
Hours: Meetings are on Wednesday at 7pm
On the Web: Writhing Society blog
Details: Donation $5