Rancourt teaches the “narrative braid”

November 13, 2017

One week after their first Red Wheelbarrow reading of 2017-18, Arts Academy creative writers had another exciting Thursday.

Poet Jacques Rancourt visited campus on Oct. 26, presenting a master class and a reading for the students. Rancourt is the author of Novena, winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd prize. His poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review, jubilat, New England Review, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Best New Poets 2014, among others.

Rancourt began the master class session by having each student draw a three-by-three grid on a sheet of paper. In column one, he instructed students to write three different imagery ideas. In column two, he asked them to list three national events that occurred during their lifetimes. And in column three, he asked the students to record three personal memories.

Once the students finished, Rancourt introduced the idea of the “narrative braid,” the format that Rancourt himself uses in the creation of his nonfiction poetry. The “narrative braid” weaves different elements together to complicate and humanize national events. Rancourt encouraged students to use their three-column chart to create their own “narrative braid” poetry.

Rancourt then reinforced the concept by having the students read three different poems and having students identify the “strands” of the braid.

Shortly after the master class concluded, Rancourt returned to The Writing House to present a reading of his own works and sign books that students had purchased earlier. The editors of the Interlochen Review also interviewed Rancourt in Interlochen Public Radio’s Studio A.