Jack Grapes Method Writing
Program in SF 
Feb 3, 2014

Nurturing the inner artist.
photo credit: Anry Avoyan
Writing--or any creative art--involves three things: 
1) Taking care of the small, still part of ourselves that is eternal--the creative voice that makes new art
2) Discipline and adherence to principles of craft.
3) Showing Up.
Whatever your New Year's resolutions are or were, it doesn't matter. You will continue to have your work cut out for you in terms of the three principles I just mentioned.
As creatives, we need to constantly create and curate a space for the delicate part of ourselves that sings out the ideas we keep deep inside. In building that creative nest, look for like-minded people and hang around them. But, most importantly, you must believe in yourself and you must be kind to yourself.
This is the hardest part. This is the part that the real work of writing or anything creative hinges on.
We all take breaks from production of new work. We all have insecurities. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves or you. Fallow periods are okay. We have to have them in order to really create something new.  But as a writer, your #1 job is to create a space for yourself where you can look at and shape your ideas in order for them to be understood and cherished by others. As writers we have to expose ourselves to the world constantly. We have to learn to not hide.
Try and do something you enjoy every single day. It can be a small thing like listening to your favorite song. It can be watching the waves, or stirring oregano into your favorite sauce. As a writer, you need to feed your inner creative in order to work from a well of abundance rather than a fear or lack.
In a film that moves us, we care if the main character lives or dies. In a piece of prose or a poem, a true storyteller gets inside your head and whispers in your ear.  As sculptors of the storytelling voice, we have to make sure that we are believing in ourselves and create a safe space within and without from which we can flourish and launch our new ideas. This is different from being arrogant or egotistical. Underneath egotism and arrogance there is a slight fear of being not good enough. I'm talking about the opposite: believe that you are good enough and that you have something valuable to say and that you are steadily working toward saying it step by step. Each one of us has a unique story to tell. Storytelling is the building block of our culture.
It's 2014 and time to tell your story. If you need a safe space to find that voice or rediscover it, or to engage in continuous battle to keep that channel open, we'll be here.


� Alexandra Kostoulas

Writer and Instructor

Jack Grapes METHOD WRITING Program in SF


Learn More


In case you missed it, Alexandra Kostoulas was recently recognized for her writing and teaching in Poets & Writers Magazine Online.

Announcing: We've got some classes starting this week on Tuesday & Wednesday  and you can now sign up and pay entirely online!

If you are already signed up for the class, expect another email from me coming to you soon. 

Jack Grapes Method Writing Program.
Starts tomorrow Feb 4, 2014, and runs for 8 consecutive weeks. 
Cost is $395.

For any last minute signups, click on the link for the day you prefer. If you want to sign up the old way, just email me, call, or send smoke signals.

1. Tuesdays 6:30-9:30 
(1 seat left)

2. Wednesdays 6:30-9:30

Where: Emerald Tablet * Art Gallery & Creativity Salon 
*80 Fresno Street * San Francisco * 94133* 

You've got to read these poems
by Elizabeth Peters.

Liz is now living in New York
and applying to graduate programs
in Creative Writing
while teaching and putting on events
at the Bowery Poetry Club.


Poems by Elizabeth Peters
-member of Method Writing SF


who will open up
the wrought iron

the one with 
the mustard seed


I tried to focus on the light
but I thought the light was
twenty feet of water
on top/all around me
and I thought I was at the bottom
of a pool a really old pool
I thought the pool was grief
I thought the pool was light
I thought the pool was
I thought the pool was
really old I thought the pool was
contact I thought the pool was
age I thought the pool was
age I thought the pool was
contact with you beyond
death that I was bathing 
and bathing inside of
your light
that I was bathing
in your light
all the time
the seven sacred spaces
and at least twenty seven
insane images reeling
through purple red and green
patterns in threads with palm fronds
underneath the stars
overlaid with blades
of grass
of grasses.
I know my love, the old love of my youth
lives as ashes, as earth
beneath these oak trees
where I am walking now.
This is where his mother and auntie scattered
his ashes
with flowers
mixed in.
I'm seeing him now in this oak tree
which I see standing
against the sky
Beneath this white lichened hillside,
with the mistletoe
upon it.
One thing I could tell you about this day, is that I wonder now in different ways
about who people truly are, and who we are meant to become. What I aspire to be.
I will say this love and I walked here, across this oak savannah,
many days together, we flowed through grasses, laughing.
We imitated plants and animals, venerating
many forms of life.
Infinitely in our bodies, we blended ourselves
into the air with bird calls, felt the light,
sometimes tumbled,
breathing into one.
He had lungs then.




Barry Spacks
In Memorium
Barry Spacks
 Barry Spacks


One of my artistic
mentors and heroes, 
Barry Spacks, died last week.
I will fondly remember him as First Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara, beloved UCSB professor, writer and friend.

Here is a little bit about his art:

First Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara, California.
Eleven poetry collections (most extensive: SPACKS STREET: NEW & S
ELECTED POEMS, from Johns Hopkins, 1982, winner of The Commonwealth Club of California's Poetry Medal; most recent: A BOUNTY OF 84s (Cherry Grove Collections, 2012). N.E.A librettist grantee; many poetry readings; poems in 18 anthologies and a multitude of journals, print and cyber; two novels, stories, essays, reviews.  
First novel THE SOPHOMORE, returned from out-of-print in Faber & Faber's "Finds" series. For poems and novels: St. Botolph's Arts Award, Boston. Singer-songwriter, actor; Literature professor, M.I.T. (1960-1981); persistently Visiting Professor, U.C. Santa Barbara (Distinguished Professor in Humanities & Fine Arts, 1991). Senior Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism) student of H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. 
Two CDs , A Private Reading, from WC Studios, contains 42 poems (plus chat) from 50 years of work and Selected Poems from Regarding Women.

* * * 
Barry Spacks

In a vision I stood by an old Apache,
heavily turning his spindle for him,
keeping him alive, I thought,
the yellowy thread of wool down the stick
dangerously thinning and yet not breaking
until he motioned to turn it himself
for once in his flattering hands it jittered,
slowed, stopped, the last of the wool
adhering. And then it began to glow
a golden green, like a reed in sunlight
become a delicate, folded grass
he cut, and with a taper lit
my half, then his, to sun-gold light
whose smoke was air. I felt great ease.
How can I tell you in words that ease?
Think at last of an easing heart
that slows to a steady pace after years
of rushing, pulsing out win, win, win.
Stunned by that massive sense of ease
which meant I too had taken on
my life and death; with no need to speak;
with a smile that both of us shared like glow
of daylight, we settled side by side,
side by side, smoking together.

* * *


Barry Spacks


Regards to the day, the great long day
that can't be hoarded, good or ill.

What breathes us likely means us well.
We rise up from an earthly root
to seek the blossom of the heart.
What breathes us likely means us well.

We are a voice impelled to tell
where the joining of sound and silence is.

We are the tides, and their witnesses.

What breathes us likely means us well.

* * *



      Barry Spacks

To gaze into an empty room
is not becoming Buddha.


To feed a starving lion, Buddha
gave up one of his precious lives.


As a rabbit, as food, 
he leapt in the fire.


We're paired to help, 
like hands, like feet.


To gaze into an empty room 
is not becoming Buddha.


What's loveable about a hum?
Needlessness. It stops, or continues.


Our shadows lie
on a moving stream. be beautiful
is all we need to offer each other.


This my cat knows, 
and my trees.






 I owe a debt of gratitude to Jack Grapes for allowing me to bring his method to the Bay Area.
A heartfelt thanks to those METHOD WRITERS (aka students of Jack Grapes METHOD WRITING Program) who have supported my independently teaching this class since its inception in Spring 2012.  It took me ten years of teaching at institutes, colleges and universities and 11 years of being a student of creative writing before I built the skills necessary and felt ready to teach a private professional creative writing workshop.
Thank you, METHOD WRITERS for your business and your time. It has been a pleasure working with you on your writing dreams. For those of you who have moved on this term, we wish you the best. You are welcome to attend our end-of-class readings and read with us if you'd like. All the best to you on your journey. And, welcome, newcomers!
Alexandra Kostoulas



Local Literary and Arts Events

Check out Litseen

They have 3 or 4 Bay Area literary arts events per day.


*Did you know that The Emerald Tablet home of Jack Grapes METHOD WRITING in SF has cool arts and literary events happening all the time? Check out some of Emerald Tablet's upcoming events here.


"Inspiration comes during work, not before it." -Madeline L'Engle



"The scariest moment is always just before you start."

-Stephen King, On Writing



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