Lauren Carlson | Literary


Lauren Carlson | Literary


As a teaching artist Lauren’s deepest desire is for students to encounter wholeness and vitality through the creative process. Rather than use external cues to measure success, my hope is that by strengthening one’s connection to the imagination, students can be encouraged to become active players in their own lives and learning.

A resident of rural Dawson since 2010, Carlson teaches and leads workshops in rural and remote areas of greater Minnesota. She has collaborated on community-led public art-exhibitions and presented at the Rural Arts and Culture Summit in Morris, Minnesota and Art of the Rural: Next Generation. The recipient of grants and awards from both the Collegeville Institute and Southwest Minnesota Arts Council, her poems have appeared in various anthologies and literary journals, such as Tinderbox, The Windhover, Bearings Magazine, and The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics. A former member of improv comedy troupe Spontaneous Combustion in Grand Rapids, Michigan; she holds an M.A. in English Literature from Grand Valley State University.

Book This Artist

In the classroom, Lauren uses improvisation-theatre exercises to silence the inner-critic, and train students to pay attention to the inner-life. Associative exercises facilitate collaborative output, encouraging students to take risks, make mistakes, and pay attention within community in order to craft poems, and/or personal narratives. Both increased self-understanding and active-listening skills are generated by embracing a spirit of play, or ‘beginner’s mind’ in the classroom setting. Writing in this way helps all people access the tools necessary for living a vibrant, meaningful life by nurturing curiosity and relationship.                     

The passion and excitement Lauren showed towards student writing made them feel comfortable sharing pieces of themselves in their poems.
— Sadie Solem, High School English Teacher, Dawson, MN

When Lauren comes into a classroom, she lead with the following rules:

  • Show-up (everyone is expected to participate in their own way)
  • Please make mistakes
  • Come in when you are needed
  • Don’t try to be funny, but when something funny happens, laugh

Completed training with: Lifetime Arts and Aroha Philanthropies.

Sample Programs: Customizable To Site's Needs


Where I’m From/ Where I’m Going: Poems of Personal Experience

Using George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From” format students will use past experiences, present circumstances, and personal identity to write a place-specific poem. This residency focuses on slowing down and paying deep attention to oneself and the surrounding world in order to craft a personally meaningful poem. Literary devices such as imagery, descriptive language, and anaphora will be explored.


The Shape of Me: Figurative Language in Geometry

Using basic geometric principles, this residency combines and explores figurative language used in math and poetry alike. It will use Carlson’s work (published in Journal of Humanistic Mathematics) and other poets who use mathematical concepts as themes for self-exploration, as guides for our writing practice.


Poetics of Chemistry: Formulas for Ourselves, Our World

This residency will explore not only the atomical structure of the elements, but our own most elementary parts. What experiences have bonded with us to construct more complex selves? What makes up the core of who we are? How do we exist in different states depending on our environment? We’ll use examples of self-portrait poetry combined with the study of chemistry to discover new properties about ourselves and our environment.  


Life Event Poetry

This residency use poetic form to tell personal stories. It guides older-adult learners in using free verse, lyric, and personal narratives as methods for sharing memories and experiences. The end goal is to craft a meaningful written legacy that can be shared with friends, loved-ones, and family.



Haiku & View: Mindfulness and Poetic Form

This class uses the five senses as inspiration for writing short haiku-like poems. Rather than focus on the end product of a 5-7-5 syllable poem, together we’ll invite the inner-observer to reflect on the surrounding environment while using pause as an essential element, both in writing and life.


Memory Sharing Collaboration

This two-hour workshop introduces older adults to associate word games and collaborative poetry. After using improvisation exercises to generate playful responses, we’ll explore memories generated from spontaneous prompts by sharing our reflections in a group setting.