A Time and Place

Every year the South Dakota Humanities Council holds a book festival where authors can purchase booths to sell their books. Along with that authors and college and university professors give workshops, readings and other presentations pertaining all things literary. It’s usually held in the Black Hills of South Dakota (this year was supposed to be in Deadwood).

Unfortunately due to the thing-that-shall-not-be-named, the council decided to cancel the festival and go all virtual. Because some of the workshops and other presentations looked interesting and informative, myself and two others decided to sign up and attend.

My favorite workshop on Friday was titled “Flash Forms Workshop” hosted by Joseph Holt (https://www.holt.ink/). It was about writing and understanding flash writing. He’s definitely a teacher in that he encouraged—and expected—lots of audience participation. His passion for writing was infectious. I managed to peek out of my virtual shell a few times (although I had issues with my microphone) and asked a few questions and added comments in the chat. He gave us some prompts and gave us ten minutes to do some free writing on those prompts.

In those ten minutes I wrote something that was rather outstanding–if I may say so myself. It’s good enough, in fact, I’m going see if I can get it published. It won’t work for the flash fiction magazine I currently edit for, but it might work for a different one.

At the end of Joe’s presentation, he gave us a few names of publications that specialize in flash form writing that look promising

The second day, however, was a bit of a frustrating disappointment.

Let me just start with this: I don’t care what a person’s politics are. If I am going to attend any class or workshop, I expect the presenter or instructor to stick to the subject at hand and not spout their political views. Even if I happen to agree with their politics, it’s still irrelevant and a waste of my time. It’s not why I’m there.

Unfortunately, during two of the events I was looking forward to, the presenters barely touched on the subject and instead focused on, shall we say, other matters. I ended up leaving both of them within ten minutes.

The nice thing about attending via Zoom, leaving the “room” was a bit easier than it would have been in person. No one to stare after me wondering why I was leaving with my jaw clenched.

There is a time and a place for politics, so unless the subject is about politics all personal political views need to stay out of the classroom–virtual or otherwise.

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