I am a member of the ACE Poetry Workshop. This workshop is open to anyone. In the spirit of bringing together elements of the Cleveland poetry community, I would like to tell you all about this workshop. I look forward to learning from all of you about other poetry workshops and groups in the area.
The Association for Continuing Education (ACE) is a volunteer organization that provides continuing education programs in cooperation with Case Western Reserve University. Perhaps best known for its annual book sale in the Adelbert Gym (Lucky me, I found 2 Richard Brautigan books for $1 each at the sale last weekend!), ACE offers non-credit off-campus studies and senior scholar classes, as well as a creative writing program.
The ACE Poetry Workshop was started by Al Cahen in 1989. The first class had 4 people in it, including Al, who continues as a member of the group today, as does another of the original 4, Jean Crea Gordon. Al led the workshop until 1994, when Jenny Clark took over leadership of the group for a short time. Jenny also continues as a member. The group has been led for many years by Linda Tuthill.
The poetry workshop meets on Thursday afternoons for 2 hours. There are three 7-week sessions a year – fall and winter classes at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights and a spring/summer session at beautiful Squire Valleevue Farm in Hunting Valley. ACE charges a small fee for the workshop. Most sessions, there are 15-20 members. The numbers fluctuate some as people come and go from the group, which welcomes new members, including those who have never written before.
Depending upon the size of the group at any given session, we usually start with a writing exercise or a discussion of some aspect of poetry. Linda has been very creative with exercises, which have included writing about an object that she brings to class, picking words from a box and using them in a poem, and continuing a poem from a given first line. After the exercise, we share and discuss the poems that we each have brought to class, with enough copies for everyone.
I joined the ACE poetry group about 10 years ago. I hadn’t written much poetry since I was in school 20 years earlier, and I was looking for a supportive environment in which I could test my wings. I sure found it! I believe I’ve grown as a poet during my time in the group, which has nurtured me, sometimes pushed me, and often inspired me. As an added bonus, we have fun. We laugh a lot, sing on occasion, cry now and then, and share lives along with poems.