“Every positive change I have been able to make in my life for the past ten years
I owe to PW and the teaching of Linda Trichter Metcalf and Tobin Simon.”
-Nina Morris-Farber, Ph.D., teacher and writer
Brooklyn, New York
In the summer of 1976, Linda Trichter Metcalf, a professor of English and Humanities at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, sat in the attic of an old stone house writing an internal narrative she planned to use as the basis of her doctoral dissertation at New York University. Although she had been teaching at Pratt long enough to be facing tenure, she still had to write her dissertation. This was the age of reader-response theory in literary criticism, focusing on the interaction between the literary text and the subjective experience of reading it. So Linda set out to track her reading of a novel, moving through it phrase by phrase, and sentence by sentence, recording the thoughts that came to her as she read, 6 hours a day for three months.
In the process of this written investigation, something unexpected happened. Her experience of herself began to change. Her mind felt alive whereas before it had felt static. Nothing in her education or in years of talk therapy had affected her in this way. To be learning from herself, to feel at one with herself–what miracle had achieved this end? She felt a calling to teach this writing method to others and to explain it to her own satisfaction.
So that fall, when classes began again, Linda taught her literature and composition students a method of writing never taught before–the same Proprioceptive Writing method that people learn today. The following semester, Tobin Simon, a professor in the Pratt English Department, began teaching PW to his students of literature and culture. Linda and Toby had been profoundly transformed by using the method, and over the following year, both observed such transformations and enthusiasm in their PW students that they decided to devote themselves to PW full time. They terminated their academic careers and left New York City for the coast of Maine, a new landscape offering solitude and teaching possibilities.
Linda and Toby placed a small ad in a local newspaper, announcing themselves as teachers of PW. A few years and many students later, they established the Proprioceptive Writing Center, incorporated as a non-profit educational center dedicated to the teaching of PW, and offered PW in multiple formats: privately, in groups, as 14-hour weekend intensives, as 5-day retreats, as weekly classes, and as yearly seminars. Sometimes they brought gender and class concepts into the PW mix. They taught PW to home-schooled and public school children; they introduced PW at holistic studies centers, as well as to groups of psychiatrists, psychotherapists, teachers, artists, and ministers. They developed a curriculum for a PW teacher-certification program, after which others began teaching PW too. As interest spread, dissertations and graduate papers were written about PW at such schools as the Harvard School of Education, University of Massachusetts, and Vermont College.
In 1996 Linda and Toby established the PW Center in New York City. There they began conducting PW therapy and teaching PW online, as well as privately and in small classes. In 2002 their book Writing the Mind Alive: The Proprioceptive Method for Finding Your Authentic Voice was published by Ballantine. This book and the PWC’s first web site made PW available to a wide pubic.
In 2006 Linda and Toby opened the PW Center in Oakland, California, where Linda directs the PW Teaching Program and continues to teach PW to an expanding group of practitioners. Recently, working together with a small circle of PW practitioners and teachers, Linda has developed a program for those wishing to deepen their experience of PW, as well as a new teacher-training program, held online and through conference calls, with herself and teaching faculty of the PW Center. Workshops in PW have been held at every major US center for holistic studies, including Esalen, Omega, Rowe, New York Open Center, and Kripalu. Today, with the help of Writing the Mind Alive, PW is practiced alone and in groups throughout the country.
Linda Trichter Metcalf, teacher, author, and pioneer in mind exploration, graduated from the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan and the City College of New York and received her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in English Literature from New York University. In the mid-1970s, while a professor at Pratt Institute, she created the practice now known as Proprioceptive Writing® (PW) to help students express their deepest thoughts and feelings. With Tobin Simon, she left academia and co-founded the Proprioceptive Writing Center, where she teaches PW and directs the PW teacher-training program.
Writing the Mind Alive
Tobin Simon, poet, teacher, author, received his B.A. from Washington and Jefferson College, his M.A. from Stanford, and his Ph.D. from New York University. While a professor of English and Humanities at Pratt Institute, he edited the poetry magazine, Snakeroots. In the mid-1970s he began teaching PW with Linda Trichter Metcalf. With her, he co-founded and directed the PW Center until his retirement in 2014.
Toby’s Book – Variety Pack