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The Writhing Society meets to practice and discuss the techniques of constrained writing. We practice the methods invented by ourselves and by other writers, artists, musicians, and mathematicians. Today's topic: Emoji poems and Tarot stories

We'll do two different exercises that turn strings of images into words:

We’ll begin with emoji poems, led by a Writher who has moved West. Using a random emoji generator, we will create strings of emoji to then translate into short poems. Take a peek at the work the Society For Potential Literature has already done in this area.

Next, taking inspiration from Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies, a pair of short novels built around tarot cards, we will use the tarot spreads to create tarot stories. There are many tarot spread generators online (try,, or and see what you prefer). If you have your own deck, you could certainly use that).

In both cases, we will be interpreting archetypal images, whether simple, complex, or mystical.

Leaders: C. Bardoff, E. Schurman

This workshop will take place online via Zoom. Please RSVP to receive the Zoom link prior to the event.

The Writhing Society combines a class with a salon. In a two-hour session, you can expect a few minutes of introductions and explanations, an hour plus of silent writing, and a half-hour or so in which we will read our work aloud. Then, if there's a little time left for questions and discussion, we'll do that. If you know nothing about writing with constraints, if you do not think of yourself as knowing much about writing, come anyway. No prior knowledge required. This is nothing like your ordinary writing workshop. We work in a relaxed, supportive, playful atmosphere, and we welcome new members.

What are constraints? Constraints are rules, specific and arbitrary, that drive you to say what you hadn’t expected to say in ways you never would have chosen to say it. Constrained writing always involves a collaboration of languages: yours and someone else’s. It allows you to take directions from something outside yourself. In a world where forms of expression thought to be “free” in fact come ready-made from the discourses of powerful groups, composing with constraints becomes a disciplined practice for escape, from these or from oneself, and a source of fresh ideas.

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