Leslie Kirk Campbell's writingBy Treena Shapiro
workshops help authors find
their own voice
EVERY writer needs a voice and according to her students, Leslie Kirk Campbell knows how to draw it out.
Campbell, a Punahou graduate, is the author of "Journey Into Motherhood: Writing Your Way to Self-Discovery," a poet, playwright and fiction and nonfiction writer. She has 12 years of creative writing teaching experience behind her and her own school of creative writing, Ripe Fruit, in San Francisco. She also conducts workshops in Hawaii almost every year.
"Her class is very good ... it's very personalized, very individualized," said Gracia Bell, who attended one of Campbell's workshops. "Rather than writing like someone you admire, you tend to find your own voice."
Campbell will be conducting another workshop called "Soulfood: A Memoir Writing Workshop" from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. July 10. Throughout the day, Campbell will encourage participants to excavate or uncover significant memories through a variety of writing exercises.
The exercises include guided writing, visualization work and right brain or imagination work. "It's a lot about memories," Campbell said. "When they actually remember, they're finding a real range of voice in the self. They're more aware of the texture of the language, as well as the story or memory that they're recalling."
Bell, who describes herself as a "grandmother-type person" still finds applications for Campbell's techniques years after attending the workshop. "I took away with me, I think, a tendency to think in more earthy kinds of pictures, that would turn into earthier, more vivid metaphors," she said.
Bell's new project, recording family memoirs, will benefit from this enhanced imagery. "Leslie gave me some vitamins for that," Bell said.
Le'Ruth Tyau took one of Campbell's memoir writing classes for seniors at the University of Hawaii in 1995. For Tyau, one assignment still stands out today.
Campbell had asked class members to write about an experience symbolizing the relationship with a significant person in their lives. Tyau chose to write about her deceased husband and while recalling their experiences together, she kept coming back to the image of herself holding a light over her husband while he fixed the car.
Using "holding the light" as a metaphor, Tyau was able to write a paper the way she and her husband held the light over each other's lives, he when he told their seven children that marrying his mother was the best thing that he ever did, and when she gave the eulogy at his funeral.
"Holding the Light" became the name of a writing group some of Campbell's students formed when the class ended. The group continues to hold the light over their lives, writing and sharing their memoirs and experiences.
"We're really bonded, so we do feel grateful for Leslie. She's the one who got us started," Tyau said. "She had a lot of enthusiasm and just sparked our imagination and creativity and helped shine the light on each of us."
Campbell's workshops are designed for writers of all levels. While some participants are published authors and poets, others have no writing experience outside of journals and legal briefs.
"I really respect the level that everyone is on and I just reach further," Campbell said.
Campbell believes her method is effective because she provides a safe writing environment. "I believe that everyone can have brilliant moments of writing when guided the way I work with them. Because I believe in them, they feel safe," she said.
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