Download our Workshop Schedule:
Mark Ari – Fiction
The Wink of Immediacy: A Flash Fiction Workshop
Flash fiction covers as wide a range of forms and styles as other fiction, but it does so with fewer words. That’s the long and short of it. It is an exciting, tightly-compressed and nuanced genre, rich with implication and surprise. In this workshop, we’ll explore some of its possibilities. We’ll try our hands at a variety of methods for capturing the telling moment that occurs in the opening and closing of a window and shaping it into a finished piece. We’ll share some of what we do.
Kristen Arnett – Fiction
No Place like Home: Writing Region in Fiction
Regional writing provides entrance to a space that’s uniquely characterized by its setting. As readers, we are drawn to this type of work because it fully fleshes out place, marking setting as important as plot. We want to know what the world will show us alongside the characters. In this workshop, writers will explore how to embed place and home in fiction in order to create unique and engaging places, spaces, and settings.
Agatha French – Journalism
The Practice of Pitching
As freelance writers, you have the opportunity to follow the leads that most ignite your curiosity, the space to become deeply invested in the stories you write, and the freedom to cover a diverse range of topics. Wherever your interests range, a piece is possible – you just have to pitch it. Luckily, pitching doesn’t have to be an art, it can be a practice. We’ll look at two successful pitches that I sold as a freelancer – as well as two rejections – to discover what works and what rookie mistakes to avoid. What’s a news peg and do you need one? How do you tell the difference between a topic and a story? What do editors want? Once we’ve unpacked what makes a compelling pitch, we’ll hunt for story ideas, narrow down the material, and practice writing pitches of our own. Leave with a pitch read-to-roll, as a well as a bank of story ideas in-progress.
Teri Grimm – Poetry
The writer, Marguerite Duras, once wrote, “The art of seeing has to be learned.” I believe wholeheartedly in this statement and its importance for us as artists. In this workshop I’m going to guide you through a three part exercise in which we explore what it means to genuinely “see” an object, by going deeper and deeper into its “thingness.” This workshop is beneficial regardless of whether you consider yourself a poet, a prose writer or a playwright. And through this focusing on an object, you will learn how to more intently engage with image, character, setting, even plot.
Caitlin Horrocks – Fiction
The Telling Detail: Making Worlds Feel Real
Writing convincing descriptions isn’t about drowning the reader in information, but about finding the exact right words and images to make places and people come alive. We’ll look at examples, discuss how to choose your character and setting details and get them onto the page effectively, and write and share creative exercises.
Hermit Crab Stories
In fiction, we often talk about form only in terms of length: novels and short stories and flash fiction or the elusive novella. We can do better! This workshop will examine the possibilities of “hermit crab stories,” meaning stories that borrow the “shell” of everyday documents like receipts, ledgers, lists, school essays, instruction manuals and many more. We’ll explore how writing within the constraints of borrowed shells can shape a difficult subject, refresh a familiar one, and provide new paths for our creativity. Class will include sample readings, discussion, and creative exercises.
Yvette Hyater-Adams – Literary Non-Fiction
Plaits and Weaves: The Braided Personal, Place, and Social Justice Essay
Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, reminds us of a fresh way to have an old conversation—the every-day-ness of racism written in a hodgepodge of literary forms. She braids prose poems, lyrical essays, and a series of short descriptive vignettes, showing us how it feels to live in marginalized racial identity. Using the second person point of view throughout her book, we also hear Rankine’s internal musing, just what we expect out of a good personal essay. Rankine’s poetic storytelling offers an example to writers how to abandon the traditional personal essay that can sometimes strangle creativity. For this workshop, I envision a big thick plait that shows human complexity. We will build an essay with three strands of narrative—to weave in our personal experience, to connect with a sense of place, and to blend in an external voice of social justice. Strands of narrative can come from any genre the writer chooses to write: poetry, essay, spoken word rant, reflective letter writing, etc. Together, let’s play and push the boundaries of the personal essay. We will construct something revolutionary because each story strand reveals the complexity of our human existence. Not required, but strongly urged: Participants taking time to read Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, will enjoy the form and might spark some writing ideas.
Billy Merrell – Poetry
Empowered by Difference
Language, more than any other medium, allows an audience to follow an artist’s train of thought, no matter how unruly. It’s no surprise, then, that the history of literature is peopled with revolutionary thinkers of every stripe. This workshop, focusing on individuality and empowerment, offers tips and tricks for “documenting consciousness” through free writing, helping writers place value on the experience of unconventional thought.
Generative Writing Techniques
Welcome to the poets’ crafting corner! After surveying an array of time-tested generative writing activities, writers will break into small groups to explore hands-on exercises — followed by workshops aimed at investigating how each technique inspires different creative energies.
Jessica Hendry Nelson – Literary Non-Fiction
The Devil is in the Details
What are the “details” of a story? Are they always nouns? Proper names? Adjectives or metaphors? This craft session will focus on defining, examining, and experimenting with well chosen details and how they can be used to create a distinctive literary voice and vivid characters. During this workshop we will define ‘details’ as all the extraneous information an author chooses to include, but which is not required to tell the action of the story. Details launch your writing from an outline to a mesmerizing read.
Too Young to Write Memoir?
The title of this workshop comes from a 2015 article in the New York Times article by two young writers, Leslie Jamison and Benjamin Moser, who respond to the oft-repeated argument that young people do not have the wisdom or the experiences to write about their lives. Wait until you’re older and can make sense of your life, is a common refrain. But this perspective ignores the value of the voice of innocence and the power of immediacy. In this workshop we’ll learn how to mine our life experiences to create beautiful works of short memoir.
Jamal Parker – Performance Poetry
Origins: A Performance Poetry Analysis
Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, are all superheroes with significant origin stories, which are retold time and time again. Their origin makes them who they are. As writers, it’s important to understand and acknowledge where we come from and how our circumstances influence our art. Participants will examine performance poetry beyond the surface, and find new ways of telling our origins with in-depth writing and performance exercises. Come prepared to engage, be open, and have fun.
The Beauty of Brevity – A Haiku Slam Workshop
The “Haiku” is known as a traditional form of Japanese poetry in three lines of five, seven, and five, yet the American version often varies in form. In all cases, the poem is 17 syllables in length. Often poets have a tendency to add unnecessary articles or language in their pieces, and this workshop will be serve as a gateway on how to condense. Participants will examine the history the Haiku in poetry slam, and will incorporate literary devices, punchlines, and even comedic timing in a writing exercise. Afterwards, participants will share their work in a Head to Head Haiku Slam.
Jim Peterson – Poetry
The Jazz Method of Writing Poems
Our everyday mind that gets us through the day is, out of necessity, highly conditioned, mechanical. As poets, if we write entirely out of that part of the mind, our poems will be mechanical and predictable. But if we write the way a jazz musician creates music, then we will always be discovering something new and surprising in our poems. In this exercise, I will provide a background structure—the groove so to speak—and you will improvise within it, thus discovering new creative pathways within yourself. You will write something unlike anything you have ever written before.
George Saunders – Fiction
Finding Your Voice
(One Session ONLY – Limited Space Available)
Laura Lee Smith – Fiction
Going the Distance: How to Write a Story Like a Champion
Using iconic references from American pop culture, including Sylvester Stallone’s 1976 film Rocky, we’ll look at the basic building blocks of character and plot. We’ll talk about how fiction writers can use these foundations to craft compelling narratives that are character-driven and psychologically satisfying for both writer and reader. Participants will work on an exercise that will help launch a new character or hone characters in existing work.
Tracy K. Smith – Poetry
Nothing Like Itself: A Workshop on the Uses of Metaphor
(One Session ONLY – Limited Space Available)
We’ll read and discuss published poems that employ vigorous metaphors, and begin poems of our own that take advantage of the same tools.
Ira Sukrungruang – Literary Nonfiction and Multi-Genre
The Truth of Seeing
In this seminar, we will breakdown scene writing in creative nonfiction, discussing the magic that happens when a movie begins to play in our minds, fueled by the details a writer provides. We will talk about the individual components of scene writing, and then construct one during class.
What haunts: A Multi-genre Foray
In this seminar, students will discuss those images that we can’t let go of, that we, perhaps, obsess about. We will then take that image and write it in 2-3 different ways, shifting the lens of genre. We will interrogate how genre changes the image, how the image becomes something new in each retelling of it.
Sidney Wade – Poetry
Listening To Your Own Words: The Sounds of Poetry
Poetry is a physical art. As physical, as former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky has said, as dancing. It has rhythm, it has pulse, it lives on air that comes through the body’s organs–the throat, the mouth. In this workshop we will learn how to fashion poems out of sound. You will listen to how one word sonically leads to the next, you will learn how to surprise yourself with new directions as poems develop through sound and sense. Bring all five senses, sharpened, to the workshop. We will use them all.
David L. Williams – Playwriting
Dialogue is not Conversation
“You write the way people really talk” should never be given as a compliment to a playwright. People talk in conversation but theatre thrives on dialogue. What’s the difference? In this workshop, we’ll talk about conflict: the cornerstone of western theatre, and the main thing that separates dialogue from conversation. We’ll also take a real life conversation, a drab, overheard bit of real life talking and figure out how to turn it into dialogue fit for the stage.
A Vase Must Hold Flowers Too
Writing for the stage is writing things for human beings to say and do in a room full of other human beings. Does this mean that there is no room in playwriting for symbols and motifs, for the flowery, wonderful things that language can do? Not at all. But there is an extra responsibility for a playwright to realize that every symbol s/he writes, every vase that represents something about her/his protagonist’s life, has to also be a tangible vase, one that can hold flowers (or be hurled in anger). In this workshop, we’ll go through what a good symbol needs to do to still be a vital part of stagecraft, go through some examples of this, and create some of our own.