“Her work makes room for voices” Victor Wildman on the Reading Susan Howe course

victorVictor Wildman, instructor of Frequency’s Reading for Writers: Reading Susan Howe, our course starting June 1. He answers some questions about the course, tells us why reading is so important for writing, and expounds on his admiration for poet/essayist/genre eradicator Susan Howe.

Read more below, and register for the course here!

Why is reading necessary to the practice of writing?

Reading is especially important if you want to write. For one thing, reading widely and diversely allows you to recognize not only what’s been done (how stories have been written, poems have been composed) but also what is possible. Paraphrasing Wittgenstein, our language is the limit of our world and the more we read the more ways we have of making sense of things, the more language we have at our disposal to construct our little stutters when we write. And we are talking about stutters here, something we are struggling to shape, somehow get out in ink or graphite or in paint. And when we read people who have done it well we see that. Reading great writers (think Woolf or Howe or Gaddis) is necessarily humbling, but to see that it’s been done and to read them with an eye to how they did it (always a mystery, always rewarding nonetheless) strengthens us, inspires us, and helps to make us the writers that we are, or someday might be.

How has reading Susan Howe influenced your own writing?

I’m not sure if she has influenced my own writing so much as inspired me in the ways I write. The way her writing not merely ignores but eradicates genre distinctions – I mean her essays are often like poems, her poems like essays – the way that her immersion in the words of others gives her her voice:

“You open your mind and textual space to many voices, to an interplay and contradiction and complexity of voices”

and, of course, there is the way she uses space and fragmentation and erasure, there is the contrapuntal music of her writing, and always there’s this rootedness to the past – a materially resonant indebtedness, the textually obscure and long repressed voices of history finally allowed to speak as if for themselves and for the first time. I guess, in short, I’m swept away by the modernist ambition of the writing and its necessary self-effacement. Her work makes room for voices.

How much reading is involved in the class? Will there be writing assignments?

Given that it’s a reading for writing class, it should come as no surprise that there will be a significant amount of reading week to week, but unlike a regular writing class, we will have the advantage of being able to spend the necessary time each week to read passages together closely and discuss. And everyone will be required to keep a reading journal, something to write in after each encounter with the readings, bringing the processes of reading and writing closer to one another. The hope is that by the end of our six weeks something will begin to gel, that the reading will begin to lead to something different in the writing.

What excites you most about teaching the class?

Aside from my boundless fascination with Howe’s writing in itself, I think it’s the collaborative aspect, the way that when we read together and discuss, we all come away enriched. I find that reading the same book with different groups of people is like reading a different book every time. It’s that sense of being discoverers together that I am most looking forward to I think.

Summer Open House this Sunday!


Rosalynde Vas Dias, instructor of Fairy Tales  (starts in July)

Kate Schapira, instructor of Book City: a workshop for teens  (starts in July)

Victor Wildman, instructor of Reading Susan Howe  (starts in June)

Sarah Tourjee, inctructor of Meditative Art Making (starts in June), and Language in Motion (starts in August)

Ravi Shankar, instructor of The Potential of the Radical Form (July 23)

Click here for all course info and to register

Community: A beautiful word

Dear Friends,

It is a boring cliché that writing is a lonely pursuit, however cliché it rvd-photomay be though, it is not a myth, or has not been for me.  As a poet who has lived in Providence since 2002, I have struggled to find “my people”—partly as I was not part of any academic community here and partly out of my own shyness.  In a city with a robust visual arts culture, my circle very often felt constricted to a few open mic nights and the delicious and delightful bookstores here.

When I first began seeing Frequency posters popping up around town five years ago, I was curious and hopeful.  “Please let it last,” I thought.  Since then, I have taken a handful of Frequency workshops and had the great joy of leading one myself.  And what do I value about Frequency the most?  That beautiful word that hides in plain sight in our subtitle:  “community.”

I have reason to believe that my Frequency peers relish the community as well. Familiar faces appear repeatedly in each new class. Newcomers often say, “I just moved here; I’m trying to find other writers” and in just a little while, those newcomers have turned into familiar faces—and so the community grows and becomes stronger.

In just the year and a half that I have been involved with Frequency administratively, I’ve been impressed with the behind-the-scenes growth as well and the idealism that drives our mission.  Frequency is run by writers that have experienced first-hand juggling living expenses with the seemingly more indulgent expenses that can go along with nurturing one’s creative life.

We pride ourselves on keeping our tuition costs affordable and offering scholarships as often as we can:

  • Frequency’s Tina Cane is currently leading a poetry workshop for veterans that was offered tuition-free.
  • Last summer, with assistance from Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, we were able to offer our first tuition-free youth class.  We are already planning another low-cost youth class —bookmaking with Kate Schapira!— to take place this summer.
  • Each course session, we offer multiple classes on a sliding scale so that students may pay what they are able. This is offered in good faith that those who can pay more will do so, in support of Frequency but also in support of one another.

In these ways, it is the “community” part of Frequency’s name that makes our vision possible.  A gift of $25 to $75 is enough for us to offer a partial scholarship to one person.  $125 pays a month’s rent for our bright & cozy classroom space at Carpenter Street.  Gifts of any amount ($5-$500) go a long way toward Frequency’s operational costs, and compensating the tireless efforts of our small staff.

Please consider making a donation to Frequency today.  You will truly be helping your community thrive.

Rosalynde Vas Dias
Board of Directors

Your tax-deductible donation, big or small, will help us in our mission to connect writers to a supportive community, create a space for writers to experiment with their art that is outside of the marketplace, and offer readings and events that enrich the culture of our region.

The “donate” button below will direct you to our PayPal site.

READING FOR WRITERS with Victor Wildman

This spring and summer, Victor Wildman is teaching a number of exiting new classes. victorSome of these are through Frequency, and some are his own projects. Either way, they’re all sure to be excellent. Take a look at what he has coming up. And don’t forget to check out the rest of Frequency’s exciting summer courses.

Frequency classes with Victor

Beginning in May and June, Victor Wildman will teach two Frequency classes focused solely on reading different books and authors through the lens of a writer. Beginning May, Victor will teach Reading Carpenter’s Gothic by William Gaddis. Then in June, Reading Susan Howe will begin. Register today for one, or both, of these courses. You’ll have the opportunity to delve deeply into some great works of writing, and do so with the support of a group.


Other classes with Victor

But wait, there’s more. Victor is also teaching some additional classes at the Community Church of Providence. Here are the course descriptions.

The next iteration of READING FOR WRITING begins on Monday April 25th at the Community Church of Providence. It will run for six weeks and conclude on May 30thWe will be reading William Gaddis’s JR – his great tragic-comedic book, and formally, it is the purest expression of his style. To read it is to enter another world (there are no chapters, there are no breaks, and to the first time reader, it appears, there is no narrator) and then look up from the page and realize that it is in fact our own. We will read this 726 page book told almost exclusively through unattributed dialogue and everyone will keep a reading journal that one person will be asked to share a passage from each week. There is so much about writing to be learned from this book – and the way he makes the time (it feels like real time) pass as we read . . .

The cost is $250 payable by check on the first day.
By popular demand the next iteration of the ADVANCED will run 12 weeks – this will make it easier for people to work towards completion, or greater (uninterrupted) exploration of their long term projects; however, for those of you who would prefer the usual 6 weeks, it will also be divided into two parts, making it possible for people to take the full 12 weeks, or to opt for just the first or the second six weeks alone.

Here’s the breakdown:
12 WEEK ADVANCED will run from Thursday April 28th through Thursday July 14th
ADVANCED (PART A) will run from Thursday April 28th through Thursday June 2nd
ADVANCED (PART B) will run from Thursday June 9th through Thursday July 14th
As usual, we meet at 6:30pm at the Community Church of Providence in the parlor room. The price for the full 12 week ADVANCED is $500. The price for either PART A or B alone is $250, payable via a check made out to Victor Wildman on the first day of class.

April 18: Providence, When Capitalized


Colin Channer


Sean Frederick Forbes

On Monday, April 18, writers Colin Channer and Sean Frederick Forbes will read and discuss their works of poetry, each deeply rooted in family heritage, place, and Caribbean culture.

The two writers, both of Caribbean heritage, released their first books of poetry, Providential (Channer) and Providencia (Forbes). Fittingly, they will come together in Providence to read and delve into the origins of their poems, the duality between colonial British and Spanish influences (socially, politically, historically, and culturally) on the Caribbean, and the meaning of providence.

This event will take place Monday, April 18, 2016 at the Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit Street, Providence RI. Opening reception starts at 5:30pm, and we will get started at 6:00pm. This event is free to all.

Presented by Frequency Writers and the Providence Athenaeum; sponsored by a grant from RISCA.