Eastern Michigan University

Honors College

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CRTW 201: Introduction to Creative Writing: The Iceberg and the Ice Axe

Polly Rosenwaike

The iceberg of our course title comes from Ernest Hemingway, the ice axe from Franz Kafka. In a Paris Review interview, Hemingway said, "If it is any use to know it, I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn't show." Kafka, in a letter to a friend, wrote, "A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us." This semester we'll work on tracking our icebergs and sharpening our ice axes. The first half of the course will focus on fiction, the second half on poetry. "I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read," the eighteenth-century writer Samuel Johnson noted. We'll strive to be the kind of people that Johnson would want to speak with, studying the craft of writing by looking closely at a range of twentieth and twenty-first century stories and poems. These works will serve as guides to your own creative experiments. We'll spend our class time on read alouds, discussion, and writing workshops. For the final project you'll produce a small chapbook of selected poetry and fiction.




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