OU-Lancaster English Professor To Lead Chautauqua Songwriting Workshop

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Ohio University Lancaster's Scott Minar (center) shares some tunes with OUL students (photo: OUL)

Ohio University Lancaster Professor of English Scott Minar is exposing a little known part of himself to the academic world.  The poet was recently asked to lead the first Songwriter's Workshop at the Chautauqua Writers' Festival at Chautauqua Lake, New York, early next summer.

"I’ve been a singer/songwriter for many years, since my early 20s," said Minar, who performed with Athens music legends The Kings of Hollywood during the 1980s. "I don’t advertise it much because I’ve wanted to keep my life as a professional musician largely separated from my academic life. The nice thing about the songwriting workshop, though, is that I will finally combine the two. It will be, as far as I know, the first songwriting workshop embedded within a literary festival and workshop—yet the two are clearly related in many ways."

Attendees are typically university students, adults of various ages—and teachers at the Festival have included some Pulitzer Prize winners. Many different people are interested in studying writing. Some student/attendees benefit from tuition scholarships offered at the three sponsoring universities.

"I’ll be sharing many songwriting techniques, tactics, and practices with attendees," said Minar. "We will use our own work—both songs composed before the workshop and new pieces composed through exercises conducted during our time together—as material for songwriting workshops where students will get feedback and suggestions from other songwriters as well as the instructor. There will be individual and group instruction and sharing as part of the workshop process. This is very much an imitation of the poetry and fiction writing workshops I teach here."

The Festival workshop isn’t the only accomplishment Minar is currently celebrating. He also recently released a textbook called The Working Poet II.

"The book is currently being used in classes at Providence College, Lock Haven University, and other universities. Clarion University, Ithaca College, and other schools will use the book later this year in course work," said Minar. "It is, as far as I know, the only college poetry-writing textbook that includes both an exercise anthology and a collection of poems from well-known writers as well. I am proud of the book because some amazing writers and teachers contributed to it, some luminaries from today’s poetry world: Ilya Kaminsky, Robin Becker, Jan Beatty, and many more."

The book was released in print in August 2014.