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Joshua Tree National Park: Hike then write haiku in this desert class

Hike the desert and pen some haiku with this field class in Joshua Tree National Park

If the Mojave Desert landscape moves you, think about expressing those feelings in words. A field class next weekend in Joshua Tree National Park offers lessons in how to write haiku and other forms of poetry that lend themselves to translating the landscape of jumbled rocks and spiky trees into words.

Participants learn about the ecology and history the park as well as the basics of haiku, one of the simplest poetic forms (17 syllables in three lines, but that doesn't mean it's easy to write).

The Sept. 13 class will be led by writers who for the past two years have been helping people channel their feelings about the desert through writing.

Ruth Nolan, a professor of creative writing and editor of "No Place for a Puritan: The Literature of California's Deserts," and Deborah Kolodji, moderator of the Southern California Haiku Study Group, start the class by taking participants on a desert walk to begin to gather ideas and impressions.

Then it's two hours of learning what haiku is and how to write it followed by an afternoon hike. The writing session ends with prompts and a chance for writers to polish their poems. Participants are encouraged to submit their work to several poetry publications.

The Desert Institute in Twentynine Palms, Calif., sponsors the one-day field class that's open to people 14 years old and up. The session runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and costs $70 per person.

No writing experience is required. Class members should be fit enough to complete interpretive hikes led by writers, and advance registration is recommended.

Info: Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park, (760) 367-5525

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