Online | Poetry | Seminar

2-Week Poetry Seminar: Breaking Out of Writer’s Block with Conceptualism

Conceptualism was first seen in visual art, where an artist takes a found object and reworks it into an art piece. The concept becomes the art. Conceptual writing soon followed. This is when a writer takes an existing text and remixes it to create new prose or poetry. The methods of conceptual poetry are often called uncreative writing because it is an automated act rather than an intentional one. It is a writing that changes perspectives, but it can also be subverted to create meaningful work and get a writer out of the conventional writers’ block.

In this course, we will explore conceptual writing methods and utilize them to help inspire and get those writing gears going. We will also critically examine the foundation of these methods and on the ethical dilemmas of uncreative writing.

Each class meeting will begin with a slideshow lecture on conceptual writing and a discussion on the controversies around uncreative writing. We will work with writing exercises based on conceptualist practices to help break out of creative ruts and create a live piece of written work and an assigned piece on the topic of your choice. We will share and discuss the process as we go. Each student will receive written or verbal feedback from the instructor.

This course is open to all writers of any level of experience.

By the end of this course students will have new tools to find inspiration for their writing and new perspectives in modern forms of literature.

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility. 

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  


- You will find inspiration to write from anything and everything around you.

- You will write with purpose and consideration.

- You will be part of a continual discussion in literary forms in a decolonized age.

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students will be expected to bring in a text/poem of their choice by an author that inspires them or a poem of their own. Students will have the option to share their work in-class or to post the results of the writing exercises online for feedback from their fellow classmates and the instructor. Be prepared for open discussions on ethical appropriation. No readings are required, but texts will be touched upon in-class and recommended to continue practicing the tools learned in class.


Day One:

1. Lecture on the basic principles and histories of conceptual writing.

2. Discussion with class and presentation of how the writer can utilize conceptual writing as a tool to break from writers' block.

3. Writers will create a short live piece and read them.

Day Two

1. Lecture on the controversies and ethics of conceptual writing.

2. Discussion with class on their opinions on this form of writing.

3. Create a poem or piece of prose on an issue the writer is passionate about.

Jacqueline Valencia

Jacqueline Valencia is a Toronto-based writer, essayist, and activist who earned her Honors BA in English at the University of Toronto. Jacqueline is the organizer of the 2015 Toronto Poetry Talks: Racism and Sexism in the Craft. She is a project partner at Poetry inPrint and editor of Watch Your Head and manygenderedmothers. She is also the founding editor of the online film magazine, Critical Focus.

Member of The Writers’ Union of Canada and ACES: The Society for Editing.


On Valencia's book MAYBE: "Despite being highly experimental (which is often code for emotionless), Valencia’s collection is highly effective and has the feel of postmodern confessional poetry. In short, it feels personal—unapologetically so."

Gary Anderson author of ANIMAL MAGNET

On Valencia's THERE IS NO ESCAPE OUT OF TIME: "Valencia’s THERE IS NO ESCAPE OUT OF TIME articulates, as the title suggests, some of the same oscillations between hope and dejection. Valencia speaks directly to and about a literary canon that is increasingly irrelevant and more meaningful because of its distance."

Dani Spinosa Canadian Literature Review

"She has quite a good eye."

Rob McLennan

"Jacqueline is great at listening to writing concerns and seeking the answers."

former student