A Poetry Workshop in Istanbul | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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A Poetry Workshop in Istanbul

Sunday, August 9, 2015 - 14:15

Literature students from AUIS and Koç University, Istanbul, came together for some creative writing at a poetry workshop earlier this month. The workshop came at the end of a joint poetry course taught by Professor Marie LaBrosse.

Literature students from AUIS and Koç University, Istanbul, came together for some creative writing at a poetry workshop earlier this month. The workshop came at the end of a joint poetry course taught by Professor Marie LaBrosse.  

“The workshop was held in Turkey to help foster international partnerships and connections between our students and faculty,” said LaBrosse, professor and former chair of the English department at AUIS. Around 20 students from both AUIS and Koç University attended the workshop in Istanbul. The forum was mainly instructed by LaBrosse, with assistance from fellow professor from the English department, Loren Higbee, and three Turkish faculty members.

The course was offered to selected students, who had earlier applied for a slot in the poetry course. “The students were selected for the course based on their commitment to, experience with, and talent in writing poetry.” said LaBrosse. Sara Jabbar, an English student and participant of the course from AUIS, found it exciting and challenging. “This was no doubt the best course I've taken during the two years I've been here. I would definitely enroll in other classes similar to this.” Talking about the joint workshop, she said, “The unexpected trip to Turkey was a bonus. I had heard great things about Koç University, and it was interesting to be part of this new collaboration.” She felt that working in groups during the workshop was a real ice-breaker between the students from the two universities as it “gave way to introductions and new friendships.”

English literature major, Lana Jabbar, has always been interested in writing poetry and thinks that the intensive course really helped her. “This was the first time I took a poetry-writing course and it made me feel a lot more capable,” she said, “On the second day (of the workshop) we actually got to work with the Turkish students by translating each others’ works into our own languages. It was nice to interact with them, and the Turkish professors too were very welcoming.”

One of the Turkish faculty members, Nazmi Ağıl, believes in the benefits of bringing students from different cultures together and exposing them to new ideas. “It was nice to see how willingly students cooperated and how soon they made friends. If one purpose of the gathering was to create this friendly atmosphere I believe it was achieved.” he said.

Professor Higbee thinks the joint workshop was a wonderful experience for the students and the faculty members. "The weather wasn't great, but everything else about the workshop was wonderful. The students put a lot of effort and thought into their work and showed an impressive amount of energy. Koç University has a beautiful campus, and their faculty members were extremely courteous and engaged,” he said. “I was also impressed by their students, who interacted actively and enthusiastically with our students on both an intellectual and social level. Most importantly, Professor LaBrosse helped the workshop participants develop their interpretative and feedback skills and create some very good poetry."

Although it was a one-time event, LaBrosse feels that it could be used as a model for other low-residency teaching options in the future. “The amount of focus, creativity and growth that I have seen occur through our correspondence and through the workshop has been incredible. These students are learning to forge art from their personal and shared experiences. They are finding language for the most elusive ideas.” she said. “In Turkey, among peers, they were intelligent and respectful leaders of the conversation. The grounding they have received from the English Department in foundational texts, theoretical approaches, critical thinking, literary translation, and creative writing has positioned them well to be part of a global academic environment.”