April 29, 2014

Writing the World

by Adam Kopp and Will Adams

Writers’ Group leads weekly creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities. Co-Coordinators Adam Kopp and Will Adams share and reflect on some of their experiences this year.

I don’t know too many people who would take one look at the Taj Mahal... and think, “How can I make this better?”

Adam: In one really positive workshop from this semester, our general theme was the future. As a group, the writers explored different modes of futurity, from their immediate plans for the weekend to the state of humanity in 100 years time. When it came to writing about the future individually, I noticed that the writers each proceeded along one of two distinct ideas that emerged. While some seized upon the future’s science-fiction potential, others thought towards their vision of a utopian future on earth. I was really happy with how different writers were able to tailor the same prompt towards their individual creative interests.

Two writers imagined futures with space travel, allowing them to envision strange worlds. In one man’s story, the protagonist crash landed on Planet Metallica where the “ETs looked like people from a metal concert” and they head-banged for days on end. Another created Planet Eight-Ball, where every shot is the last shot. One woman structured her future by imagining the changes she would enact as president, from ending discrimination to universalizing health care. She concluded with the wish that “the whole world would just relax, settle down, and live in peace and harmony with lots of hope and most of all love.” I love watching how each week the prompts that I and the other volunteers have thought up are so beautifully expanded and shifted to produce so many thoughtful and imaginative works.


Will: Each week working with Writers’ Group, I am struck by the unique lens with which each writer views the world. These folks have the ability to completely change how I look at writing, expression, and the world as a whole. For instance, last month we used a prompt that asked the writers to look at a picture of a famous building and describe how it looks, who lives there, what they do, etc. One writer was given a picture of the Taj Mahal. His first reaction? “I would change this, this and this.” He spent the next thirty-odd minutes detailing how he would remove the pillars, take out the water leading to the building, and turn the place into a more family friendly abode. I don’t know too many people who would take one look at the Taj Mahal, one of the grandest pieces of architecture in the world, and think, “How can I make this better?” It these types of moments that make Writers’ Group the most enriching, eye-opening, and, ultimately, rewarding experience I’ve had at Brown. The next time I visit the Grand Canyon, I might think about what could make it even more beautiful.

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