Fiction, Patricia Henley
Writing the Memorable Short Story
This workshop is about possibilities and choices short story writers make. You may bring a draft of a story already written or you may come with only an idea for a story. In early drafts, everything you write should feel malleable. We will focus on how to use the tools of craft—point-of-view, sensory description, character development, your sense of place, and structure–to make your story publishable and unforgettable.
Poetry, Phillis Levin
Powers of Syntax
This poetry workshop explores the shape-shifting powers of syntax across lines, stanzas, and entire poems. Syntax, the arrangement of words forming a sentence, is inseparable from what those words convey in relation to each other. Since a poem’s primary unit is the line, composing a poem elicits creative tension between lineation and sentence pattern: this dynamic amplifies the forces the syntax sets in motion. In drafts of poems you bring to workshop and through in-class writing exercises, we will experiment with the fragment, if/then construction, parallelism, and the rhetorical technique called anaphora. A packet of touchstone poems (circulated in advance) will highlight syntactical strategies that offer ways to suspend time, increase expectation and surprise, and re-orient the reader’s experience. Be ready to play with possibilities of the line as a measure of breath, rhythm, and thought.
Raising the Dead: Research As Creative Intervention, Angela Pelster
This workshop will be a supportive discussion and examination of participant’s writing, as well as an exploration of some of the major forms and styles within the genre.
Sailing From This to That: A Youth Writing Workshop, Eva Freeman
In this workshop, high school-aged conference attendees will explore the craft of the personal essay, short story, and poem. Participants will develop the intimate tone that is the hallmark of good nonfiction and its interplay of summary, musing, and scene. We will also explore the building blocks of a solid short story: plot, characterization, setting, and dialogue. There will be several writing prompts and exercises to practice developing these elements. While we will also generate new material, participants are encouraged to bring poems, essays, or short stories to be workshopped.
The Great Art of Writing Trauma
There has been a recent spike in narratives that deal with intergenerational trauma. Voices that we have never heard before are articulating these experiences in vivid detail. And yet they find themselves very much within an ongoing American literary tradition. This lecture will explore Faulkner, Morrison, Ward, and that master of writing trauma, Hemingway, in an effort to identify hallmarks of the form and perhaps most importantly, the impact writing this material has on the writer.
Additional Lectures to be announced
Bending Your Truth
Anyone who writes fiction (or poetry, for that matter) relies on primal scenes or “moments of being” ( Virginia Woolf) from childhood onward that feel like great material. And, let’s face it, writers are always seeking their best material, sort of like stand-up comics, although our job is easier. Maybe. In this talk, Patricia will discuss the pros and cons of writing your biography into your fictions. She will unpack examples from her own work. And she will elicit from you various ways forward using your own life story.
Calling Forth: Direct Address/Apostrophe
This craft talk explores the power of direct address, a rhetorical device that creates a dramatic yet intimate dynamic. The act of speaking to (rather than of or about) a person, a thing, or an idea opens the writer and the reader to a real or an imagined Other—and to a new engagement with language. Unfamiliar elements within oneself are called forth and previously untapped possibilities of diction, tone, and style emerge in the process. The poems at the heart of this talk will exemplify different ways of deploying direct address, including apostrophe. In some cases, an absent or present You is addressed from the outset; in other cases, a poem becomes an apostrophe only when approaching closure, introducing a change of voice that re-orients our experience. To conclude, we will consider “A Part Song,” a lyric sequence by the British poet and philosopher Denise Riley, in which direct address functions as a major literary strategy.
Raising the Dead: Research As Creative Intervention
This talk will explore research as a creative act to consider how the personal and the scientific, the factual and the imaginative are not at odds with one another. Instead, we will discuss how research can be a source of inspiration and an answer to the erased, forgotten and ignored stories we want to write.