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Reviewed by Jennifer Lancaster for Readers' Favorite
The recollections of a writing teacher and poet, The Writing Party by Ken Waldman, is not what you might think at first. It’s not dull. The situations he chose to retell – of unfairly critical writing professors and their exact opposites – lead the reader to conclude that learning to write creatively is interactive, involving questioning (not lecturing), prompts, and spontaneous creation. Waldman also includes some of his poems, but mostly this is a memoir on the theme of learning to write, whether in the form of poetry or creative writing. He recalls all the exercises he shared over the years with his various writing students in detail.
In The Writing Party, I appreciated Ken Waldman’s notion that ‘we’re all equals when we begin with a blank page’. This humility lies behind the writing workshops he teaches and the recounting of his experiences as both a writing student and teacher. His care for the beginner writer and for the words themselves is genuine. I noticed he used the ‘wounded writer’, a term new to me, describing novice writers who have been put off by their teacher’s critiques. We learn about acrostic poems, which are an interesting device. Waldman notes that he's written ample newsworthy sonnets (including those about George W Bush and Donald Trump). I would love to see some lines from the comedic sonnets. Gradually I began to admire Waldman’s scenes and his experienced viewpoint. Though the book may be slow at times, the territory on the other side of learning his creative techniques is worth the wait.