Lauren Schmidt is the author of three collections of poetry: Two Black Eyes and a Patch of Hair Missing; The Voodoo Doll Parade, selected for the Main Street Rag Author’s Choice Chapbook Series; and Psalms of The Dining Room, a sequence of poems about her volunteer experience at a soup kitchen in Eugene, Oregon. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Rattle, Nimrod, Painted Bride Quarterly, PANK, New York Quarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, The Progressive, and others. Her awards include the So to Speak Poetry Prize, the Neil Postman Prize for Metaphor, The Janet B. McCabe Prize for Poetry, and the Bellevue Literary Review’s Vilcek Prize for Poetry. Schmidt is an Instructor of Developmental English at Passaic County Community College where she founded RAW, a social justice-oriented poetry club for PCCC students. She serves as a Poet-in-the-Schools for Paterson Public Schools and volunteer teaches a creative writing workshop at a transitional housing program for homeless women in Paterson as well.
Lauren’s Book Coaching Statement
As a book coach, my job is to get you to think critically and dynamically about your own work. To that end, I will ask you questions, suggest poets/writers whose work may resonate with you, develop prompts to exercise and stretch your creative muscles, and model and encourage persistent revision.
Furthermore, I will emphasize clarity, musicality, precision in word choice and image, and succinctness. I will urge you to play with your line breaks and the shape your poems take on the page, as well as recommend attempts in using poetic devices and form where appropriate. Finally, I will help you find the themes as they emerge in your own work as you work towards a finalized manuscript.
But perhaps more importantly, here’s what I will NOT do.
I will NOT impose my own aesthetic. My job is to help you discover how to write your best poems, poems that are true to your vision and your voice. Any suggestions I make or questions I ask will be constructed without bias, but with great care and respect for you and your work.
I will NOT discourage creative resistance. As your coach, I will create the kind of environment that instigates and inspires, one that will result in thoughtful conversations where I stand to learn as much as you. You are encouraged to accept or reject suggestions that are not consistent with your vision. Part of this learning experience should be refining that vision, and sometimes, the best way to do that is to start eliminating what doesn’t square with it.
I will NOT revise, review, or explicate your poems, for my role as your coach does not warrant that kind of power over your work. Rather, I will provide you with tools to help you grow and change and provide a space safe enough to do so.
I will NOT expect blind acquiescence. Such a relationship suggests a power dynamic that stifles creativity. Furthermore, that relationship presupposes that I have all the answers and you have none, and I have found that people who think they already know everything are the most limited in where they are capable of going creatively. Instead, I consider us both teachers and students, each prepared with our own set of skills and experience—the magic is in what happens when we bring them together.
As your coach, you will find that my energy feeds off writers who are open and willing to learn, who remain committed to the craft (even when it gets hard or when life gets in the way), and who demonstrate a level of excitement equal to my own.
I look forward to working with you!