College/University, Arts/Cultural Organizations, Community Center, K-12 Schools, Library, Senior Center
Hermine Meinhard’s book Bright Turquoise Umbrella, published by Tupelo Press, was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book award. Her poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Barrow Street, Drunken Boat, and Verse Daily among other journals, and she has performed her work at venues such as Live from Prairie Lights Bookstore, Hudson Valley Writers Center, KGB Bar, Lincoln Center, and The Kitchen.
Meinhard is Adjunct Associate Professor of Humanities at NYU’s School of Professional Studies. She also teaches poetry at the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan and the New York Public Library.
She has taught a series of workshops for older adults at the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the New York Public Library, initially through a grant from Lifetime Arts, and at the Greenwich House Senior Center through the Poets House Poetry in the Branches project.
I have enjoyed and learned so much from teaching retired and older adults. There has been a great richness of stories, learning, and sharing. The ability to make poems (and to make art of all kinds) can bring a great joy, a sense of accomplishment, aliveness and purpose. These classes also create new friendships and camaraderie.
In my classes students learn by engaging in improvisational exercises that build the skills of writing poetry. My work with them is playful, often involving objects, drawing, artwork, or movement. The students explore a variety of ways to enter into writing and to connect to language. They learn to trust their instincts and to write in the presence of and in collaboration with others. The students also learn and practice the elements of poetic craft and that brings confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
Students read their work aloud each week. This sharing of work and the supportive, focused feedback is an important part of the class. Students get to hear from peers and from me what makes their work strong and unique, which builds their confidence and skill. It also enables students to get to know and trust each other for much of the work is personal.