Joanna Goodman

Joanna Goodman
Narberth, PA
Creative Non-Fiction, Fiction, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Poetry
Adult Day Care, After School Program, Assisted Living, College/University, Arts/Cultural Organizations, Community Center, Correctional Facilities, Hospice, Hospital, Independent Living, K-12 Schools, Library, Nursing Home, Rehabilitation Center, Senior Center

Helping participants of any age, in any setting, let go of the fear of failure and trust their instincts is at the heart of my teaching. To warm up, and to generate ideas or lines that may turn into treasures, I assign timed free writing exercises at the start of class. The impossibility of self-editing in ten minutes allows people to experience the joy of writing without the rules, logical connections, learned conceptions of right and wrong that can obstruct inventiveness and freedom of thought and imagination. Students take a leap into their unconscious; they dream while awake. Amazing results occur: unintended risks are taken with language; unsought-for realizations reveal themselves. Sometimes, a thread ties the freewrite together in a profoundly fresh and surprising way. There is always least a moment—often more—that invites the writer back for further investigation, greater discovery. With this foundation set, we move forward in whatever direction has been decided upon, and into whichever genre(s) are of interest to the group. Imagination is prized, whether it's brought to the past, present, or future.

In the spring of 2015, I received a grant from Lifetime Arts to teach older adults at the Free Library of Philadelphia, through the Public Libraries Initiative. I learned more, and gained more, from this experience than most others in my life. Most if not all of the participants found a new purpose in the course - not only from what they learned, but from what they shared and the community we together created in a basement with little outside light, but stream of inside light. The course was only eight sessions long, but the participants banded banded together to find funding to keep the program going.  It's still going strong. They are a tight-knit group who trust each other and continually branch out in new directions because of each other.