People in the military are trained to follow orders, not to express their feelings, but a free writing workshop next month will give veterans the chance to drop their armor and open up about what’s on their minds. Emma Rainey, an English professor at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, is helping organize the workshop, which will draw on the talents of several other writers, playwrights and poets.
Rainey says, “We’re all going to do our best to offer the vets some different strategies for approaching writing.” The University of Iowa Vets Midwestern Writing Workshop will be held January 15-17 at the U-of-I’s Distance Learning Site in downtown Iowa City. Rainey grew up in a military family and is a graduate of the U-of-I’s Nonfiction Writing Program. She says the workshop will help to empower veterans.
“I’m hoping people will walk away with a sense of feeling a confidence about getting their voice heard and finding a medium that works best for them, whether that be letter writing or a rap or talking in the third person to different parts of your body,” Rainey says. “There are many different ways you can approach getting to the source — what it is you want to say.”
Rainey says she was inspired to help launch this workshop after hearing so frequently about soldiers who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who take their own lives. She views the workshop as a way to help veterans learn how to tell their stories in compelling, creative ways, to find a way to deal with traumatic or painful events, and to provide an outlet for positive and happy experiences.
“Writing can have a very beneficial effect in the long run, emotionally, seeing dramatic events that happen in your life and being able to work with it on the page,” Rainey says. “It’s really a powerful, powerful tool.” The workshop is open to all current and former military personnel, regardless of whether they’re connected to the university. No previous writing experience is required.
The three-day workshop is being sponsored by the U-of-I Veterans Center and the U-of-I Division of Continuing Education. Class size is limited to the first 50 registrants. Though free, registration is required by visiting: “www.midwestvetswritingworkshop.com“.