“All You Can Write Is What You See” – WoodyFest
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“All You Can Write Is What You See” – WoodyFest

July 12, 2024 3-5pm

All You Can Write Is What You See - A Free Creative Writing Workshop at WoodyFest

“All You Can Write Is What You See” is a creative writing workshop that will be offered to high school and college students at the 2024 Woody Guthrie Folk Festival (WoodyFest), to be held from July 11-13 in Okemah, OK.

The workshop will be led by Anna Canoni, Vice President of Woody Guthrie Publications and Woody’s granddaughter, along with Rebecca Roseberry, the Education and Outreach Manager from the Woody Guthrie Center, in Tulsa, OK. Quinn Carver-Johnson, Guest Services Manager of the Bob Dylan Center, is also leading this workshop. The workshop leaders will give participants an overview of Woody’s biography and his music as written work, focusing on Woody’s lyrics and how they were derived from personal and learned experiences.

As Woody once wrote, “I read in the papers about wrecks, accidents, fires, floods, droughts, hurricanes, cyclones…killings…gangster fights, bad houses, slum diseases; tragedies of all kinds, all kinds of disasters. Any event which takes away the lives of human beings, I try to wrote a song about what cause it to happen and how we can all try to keep such a thing from happening again.” Woody’s songs; The Great Dust Storm, 1913 Massacre, Deportee, The Ballad of Harriet Tubman, The Blinding of Isaac Woodard, and Pretty Boy Floyd, …all ring true with the tales of people’s experiences, all asking for deeper thought and investigation into lessons for growth and opportunity in mankind. Woody includes factual details; names, dates, and places in his ballad songs, always including the truth in his lyrics. This was a helpful trick for those of us who struggled to remember historical facts, like “on the 14th day of April, in 1935, there struck the worst of dust storms that ever filled the sky.” These singable specifics highlight our history in the hopes that it doesn’t repeat itself. Woody often closed his songs with a message, a thought to keep us moving forward, for continued personal and society growth. He writes gripping and powerful lines like; “See what your greed for money has done,” “Some rob you with a six gun, some with a fountain pen,” and “Now as I look around, it’s mighty plain to see, this world is such a great and a funny place to be; oh, the gamblin’ man is rich an’ the workin’ man is poor, and I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.” This style of writing is what this workshop will focus on.

Participants will be given a host of newspapers and articles on different current events, so that they may select a specific event to write about. Then they’ll practice writing lyrics or prose about one event, learning how to embellish and simplify aspects of the event for the greater lesson. Following that exercise, the participants will be given the chance to write about experiences that they have personal experienced or witnessed and present their writings to the group.

Participants who attend both days of this workshop will receive a special gift bag.

The title of the workshop is taken from notes scrawled by Guthrie at the bottom of the original handwritten lyrics to his most famous and beloved song “This Land Is Your Land.” A return to observational writing, is an opportunity to hone creative writing skills and learn more about our society, country and people.


Session 1: Friday, July 12 from 3-5 p.m.
Session 2: Saturday, July 13 from 3-5 p.m.

Woody Guthrie Folk Festival
Okfuskee County Historical Society
407 W Broadway, Okemah, OK


Free and open to high school and college students and young adults. Please RSVP at the link above.


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