This was the first workshop I’ve taught with writer/professor, Beth Couture. I met Beth in a college aerobics class. We had a mutual hatred of cardio, and a mutual love of Beat poetry. We are now women in our mid-thirties who have come to find the necessity of cardio and the misogyny of some of our old Beat idols. We agree about most things, actually. This makes for a wonderful friendship.
A wonderful friendship doesn’t always translate to a harmonious collaboration, especially in a workshop environment. Who would take the lead and when? What if the students wanted less yoga (taught by me) and more writing (taught by Beth)? What if they hated me and adored her? Would I feel inferior? Jealous? I’ve always been just a little jealous of her talent. A good thing, I think. You have to be just a little in awe of the people in your life.
It could have been a disaster, but it wasn’t. Erin, Rhonda, T.A., and the rest of the Sundress Academy for the Arts crew thrive on a deeply collaborative environment. Rhonda was on the oven, deep into one of her many delicious vegan stews. T.A. was both a student and an assistant. Erin was, well, doing a lot of everything. She is a collaborative machine with one hand in the stew pot and the other editing exciting, new work.
In art school, I was encouraged to find my own voice, forge my own path, make work that screamed ME. It was an ALL ABOUT ME education—fitting at the time, given that I had no idea who I was. Eventually, it led to a feeling of isolation and a very faint creative spark. The most important part of the workshop, for me, was finding that it didn’t have to be about me—that I’m not in competition with anyone. That voices are most powerful when harmonizing.