Port Townsend Writers’ Conference Schedule and Afternoon Workshops

THE 2016 PORT TOWNSEND WRITERS’ CONFERENCE

Faculty readings take place at the Joseph F. Wheeler Theater; workshops and lectures take place at the Schoolhouse building; meals take place at the Fort Worden Commons.


Sunday, July 17

  • 3:30-5:30—Check-in and welcome gathering outside the Centrum office building.
  • 5:30-6:15—Dinner
  • 7:00—Orientation at the Joseph F. Wheeler Theater
  • 7:15—Readings by Sayantani Dasgupta; Jonathan Evison
  • 8:45—Wine and conversation. Join us! (Building 262)

 

Monday, July 18

  • 8:15-8:45—Breakfast
  • 9-11:30—Morning workshops
    • Marvin Bell (Room I)
    • Kwame Dawes (Room J)
    • Jonathan Evison (Room F)
    • Debra Gwartney (Room O)
    • Pam Houston (Room N)
    • Dorianne Laux (Room K)
    • Sam Ligon (Room H)
    • Joy Passanante (Room M)
    • Helena María Viramontes (Room D)
  • 11:45-12:30—Lunch
  • 1-1:50—Afternoon Craft Lecture by Debra Gwartney, “The Compelling First Page”
    1-1:50—Afternoon Craft Lecture by Joseph Millar, “Apollo and Dionysus”
  • 2-3:30—Afternoon workshops
    • Shawn Vestal (Room N)
      “When Stories Don’t ‘Make Sense’”
      Many stories are set in other places, other times, other worlds, while still retaining a basic relationship to logic of this world: cause and effect, emotional realism, and plot mechanics that follow the traditional arc of conflict and resolution. But some stories operate outside the logic of the world—and our typical notions of story logic—and create new ways of building drama, connecting events, and finding meaning. In this class, we will read and discuss stories built on surreal or absurd logical foundations, examine the way the authors built the logical patterns that underly them, and discuss the effect of such patterns. We will examine Franz Kafka’s “A Country Doctor,” Donald Barthelme’s “The School,” and Italo Calvino’s “Games Without End.”
    • Joseph Millar (Room M)
      “Image and Narrative”
      This class will examine the ways in which the image and the narrative operate in a well-made poem, the ways by which the image can not only highlight the narrative, but also broaden and deepen its content and associations. We’ll look at various model poems, including poems by Stanley Kunitz and Ruth Stone, and we’ll each write a draft of our own.
    • Greg Glazner (Room O)
      “Confession and Mask.”
      This class will look at the use of the mask as a way of managing confessional material. We will start at the root, with poems such as “Lady Lazarus” and “Fever 103” by Sylvia Plath, and the 14th, 29th, and 76th of Berryman’s Dream Songs. We will discuss the evolution of this mode of writing in the twenty-first century with such poems as “Ichor” by Dana Levin and “West Hills” by Matthew Dickman.
    • Sayantani Dasgupta (Room H)
      “Your Life in Parts: Writing the Segmented Essay”
      The segmented essay allows the author to step outside conventional narrative patterns of time and place. A segmented essay works in segments or parts that build off of each other. They are interspersed with white space, which functions as an essential design and foundation element, and therefore, segmented essays do not require traditional transitions. The segments may include personal story, research, change in authorial voice and perspective, shifts of time, etc. While all these disparate segments (including the silences and white spaces) must have their individual character and arc intact, they must also all work together. In this class, we will look at the form through the writings of accomplished essayists and work on fleshing out a segmented essay of our own.
    • Susan Landgraf (Room K)
      “Numbers Mean More Than Checkbook Balances and Percentages”
      Numbers have a story to tell. Poems tell a story. In both we come to experience what Erik Scott, who teaches college math, says is the “beauty as well as the power.” Each requires concentration and a study of patterns.  Simone Weil writes in What Makes Writing Good: “If we concentrate our attention on trying to solve a problem of geometry, and if at the end of an hour we are no nearer to doing so than at the beginning, we have, nevertheless, been making progress each minute of that hour in another more mysterious dimension.” What is that beauty, power and mystery? We’ll begin by looking at the number 5 in William Carlos Williams “The Great Figure” and go from there in our writing, and what we carry with us as we migrate.
    • Eric Greenwell (Room F)
      “Place In(side) Poetry”
      In his essay “Condensed Mapping,” anthropologist Roy Wagner begins with a question: “What has the shape of the earth to do with the shape of the story?” Consciously or subconsciously, place embeds itself in the way we write. While poems are full of fields and coastlines and towns and cities, this session investigates more subtle and stylistic impacts of place in writing.  We will do this by reading poems by poets from all over and putting each one under our microscope. What elements come from the place they carry with them? But before we do anything, we will write. Then, at the end of our session, we will assess what we wrote in the beginning, what it reveals about the choices we make in our writing, and what we carry with us as we migrate.
    • Melissa Febos (Room J)
      “How Not to Be Boring: A Workshop on Plot”
      Concerns of lyricism, diction, intellectualism, and image should rightfully be of great concern to the prose writer. All of these become irrelevant, however, if you bore your reader with a surplus of abstraction, interiority, and description. In this workshop, we will break down the recipe for dramatic tension and consider ways to subvert traditional plot structure without losing your reader. We can be artful, intellectual, introspective and compelling—and to craft the best literary work, we must.
  • 5:30-6:15—Dinner
  • 7:00—Readings by Joy Passanante; Sam Ligon
  • 9:00—the Nine O’Clock Open-Mike Readings (Building 262)


Tuesday, July 19

  • 8:15-8:45—Breakfast
  • 9-11:30—Morning workshops
    • Marvin Bell (Room I)
    • Kwame Dawes (Room J)
    • Jonathan Evison (Room F)
    • Debra Gwartney (Room O)
    • Pam Houston (Room N)
    • Dorianne Laux (Room K)
    • Sam Ligon (Room H)
    • Joy Passanante (Room M)
    • Helena María Viramontes (Room D)
  • 11:45-12:30—Lunch
  • 1-1:50—Afternoon Craft Lecture by Kwame Dawes
    1-1:50—Afternoon Craft Lecture by Shawn Vestal
  • 2-3:30—Afternoon workshops
    • Shawn Vestal (Room N)
      “When Stories Don’t ‘Make Sense’”
      Many stories are set in other places, other times, other worlds, while still retaining a basic relationship to logic of this world: cause and effect, emotional realism, and plot mechanics that follow the traditional arc of conflict and resolution. But some stories operate outside the logic of the world—and our typical notions of story logic—and create new ways of building drama, connecting events, and finding meaning. In this class, we will read and discuss stories built on surreal or absurd logical foundations, examine the way the authors built the logical patterns that underly them, and discuss the effect of such patterns. We will examine Franz Kafka’s “A Country Doctor,” Donald Barthelme’s “The School,” and Italo Calvino’s “Games Without End.”
    • Joseph Millar (Room M)
      “Image and Narrative”
      This class will examine the ways in which the image and the narrative operate in a well-made poem, the ways by which the image can not only highlight the narrative, but also broaden and deepen its content and associations. We’ll look at various model poems, including poems by Stanley Kunitz and Ruth Stone, and we’ll each write a draft of our own.
    • Greg Glazner (Room K)
      “Confession and Mask”
    • This class will look at the use of the mask as a wayof managing confessional material. We will start at the root, with poems such as “Lady Lazarus” and “Fever 103” by Sylvia Plath, as well as the 14th, 29th, and 76th of Berryman’s Dream Songs. We will discuss the evolution of this mode of writing in the twenty-first century with such poems as “Ichor” by Dana Levin and “West Hills” by Matthew Dickman.
    • Sayantani Dasgupta (Room H)
      “Myths, Fairy Tales & You: Using Ancient Stories for Contemporary Nonfiction”
      Although myths and fairy tales are not set in real time and often employ magical creatures to insert tension and push the narrative forward, they continue to enjoy immense popularity even in our politically-correct, hyper-critical times. Their sources range from Grimm’s Fairy Tales to One Thousand and One Arabian Nights to fables from the Panchatantra. They teach us to identify the seer and the trickster, the hero and the heroine, the witch and the villain. Come to this class to be inspired by the works by Ilya Kaminsky, Maxine Hong Kingston and Amit Chaudhuri, and draft three new essays.
    • Nina Mukerjee Furstenau (Room O)
      “Sensuous Flavors: Food, Love, & Culture”
      Jonathan Swift said, “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” Yet, oysters and other initially intimidating bits now considered foods of love ended up on our plates. What does the story of figs, tomatoes, oysters, caviar and other succulent morsels say about us? What is conveyed in your story by what’s for dinner? The power of food in writing lies in social, religious, agricultural, and sensory detail. We eat what we are in many ways, or perhaps what we wish to become. Deepen your prose with sensory details—the lush atmosphere of a warm kitchen, the keen ache of a silent meal, the harsh scrape of a pan in the sink—and reveal character, tension, and history with the stroke of your keyboard.
    • Marcia Perlstein (Room F)
      “Just for Me: Journal Writing as Self-Therapy”
      Using prompts and questions, participants will be given tools to access our dreams, fears, hopes and concerns. Many of us work things out through our writing. Down the road, we may select bits and pieces, shape them into new forms, use them as parts of other works. However, the intention of this time together is to free us up, in the moment; not to plan for publication, rather to focus on feelings, ideas, conundrums, rolling about in our rich interior lives. In this workshop, we will experiment with ways to mine our musings and put them on paper. The environment will be safe for reflection and sharing; and/or for taking home, continuing the process and asking the questions of ourselves we each want to ask.
    • Melissa Febos (Room J)
      “Breaking Form: Alchemies in Creative Nonfiction Structure”
      Conventional essay forms offer us familiar containers in which to pour our content. And essays are traditionally driven by content. It is a formula that works. The problem with formula, and the familiar, is that it lulls the imagination and protects the psyche. But what happens when we lead with structure? What happens to our content when it meets an unfamiliar container? In this class, we will examine lyric essays by contemporary masters—including Maggie Nelson, Eula Biss, and Lia Purpura—and generate work using unconventional forms from sources diverse as playlists, bestiaries, etymologies, and letters.
  • 5:30-6:15—Readings by Greg Glazner; Marvin Bell
  • 9:00—the Nine O’Clock Open-Mike Readings (Building 262)


Wednesday, July 20

  • 8:15-8:45—Breakfast
  • 9-11:30—Morning workshops
    • Marvin Bell (Room I)
    • Kwame Dawes (Room J)
    • Jonathan Evison (Room F)
    • Debra Gwartney (Room O)
    • Pam Houston (Room N)
    • Dorianne Laux (Room K)
    • Sam Ligon (Room H)
    • Joy Passanante (Room M)
    • Helena María Viramontes (Room D)
  • 11:45-12:30—Lunch
  • 1-1:50—Afternoon Craft Lecture by Dorianne Laux, “The Brilliance of Simplicity”
    1-1:50—Afternoon Craft Lecture by Pam Houston, “Playing Tennis Without a Ball (or a Racquet, or a Net, or a Court, or a Serena Williams Signature Dress)”
  • 2-3:30—Afternoon workshops
    • Shawn Vestal (Room N)
      “Stories Within Stories”
      Stories are built upon other stories, and many short stories house shorter narratives within—stories that are framed by narrators, stories the characters tell or don’t tell about themselves, stories that inform the larger story and what it means to us as human beings. In this class we will read and discuss examples of short stories that upon stories told by the characters for energy, revelation and meaning: Barry Hannah’s “Water Liars,” Grace Paley’s “Distance,” and George Saunders’ “Home.”
    • Joseph Millar (Room L)
      “The Controlling Image”
      This class will focus on a particular use of a single image or object as a strategy for extending the narrative, a study in visual repetition. How can an image work its way all the way through a poem, so that each instance shows a new facet, sometimes appearing in a different form, sometimes remaining the same, though unfolding new aspects of meaning Model poems will be presented, by such writers as Larry Levis and Deborah Digges).
    • Greg Glazner (Room O)
      “Contemporary Poems with Environmental Concerns.”
      This class will look at the tension between the need for the imagination to remain free of prior conceptual restraints, on the one hand, and the need for poets to be deeply concerned about their world, on the other. Poems such as “to the fig tree on 9th and christian” by Ross Gay, “Techno” by Dana Levin, “In History” by Jon Davis, and “Against Botticelli” by Robert Hass manage this tension in memorable ways.
    • Sayantani Dasgupta (Room H)
      “Sacred Journeys: Writing the Spiritual Essay”
      The spiritual essay can exist within the realm of organized religion as well as outside it. It can be written by anyone—atheists, agnostics, or the deeply devout. It can be about a moment of transformation, a sudden lack of faith, or even the writer’s personal definition of sin. Its essential purpose, however, remains the same: to explore timeless questions about our existence, wrestle with the conflicts within and understand the meaning of it all. In this class, we will take inspiration from the writings of Hermann Hesse, Shashi Tharoor, and Pico Iyer, to draft three new essays.
    • Susan Landgraf (Room J)
      “Stones—Finding the Center of the Earth”
      Think about the differences in stones and the places where they’re found – stones falling on a casket, stones in your shoe, a stone speckled with rain, a stone polished by the waves, stones pushed up from below by a mole and coming up in your garden even if the carrots and peas aren’t. The ground is always birthing stones. Stones hold up the world: They breathe. They speak. Come, commune with a stone and find your own poem.
    • Eric Greenwell (Room M)
      “Stories as Maps”
      While Aboriginal Australians and Native Americans didn’t have cartographers, per se, they had storytellers. Every landmark, every bend in a river, every tree had a story or myth associated with it in order to navigate. Place cannot be without story and story cannot be with place, and both have a sacred reciprocating relationship. “If we regard landscape in the proactive and living sense of country—the webs of ephemeral life—then we see a continuously becoming…process,” wrote anthropologist Deborah Byrd Rose. In other words, places are alive with story. So what stories make your map?  We will read excerpts of myths, poems, and essays, and you will answer questions about a particluarl place you’ve lived or traveled. Answers to these questions will evoke memories and psychic ties you have to the place. Then you’ll map one with words and give that place new meaning.
    • Kate Lebo (Room F)
      ”How to Cook a Book”
      Food is personal. Food is universal. Food is never just about food. In this class we’ll cover the basics of writing personal essays about food and explore how recipes can be more than mere instruction. Starting with a feast of food writing—including Charles Simic, Molly Wizenberg, Paisley Rekdal, Louise DeSalvo, and prose from classic cookbooks—we’ll find the sweet spot where public and private lives collide in the kitchen, then draft our own personal essays about the dogeared, sauce-spattered, multicultural cookbooks we’ve been living since birth.
    • Melissa Febos (Room K)
      “Carnal Knowledge”
      Desire drives any story worth telling. One of the most difficult forms of desire to represent in writing in a way that is neither reductive nor stereotypical is sexual desire. As William Gass said, “Anyone who attempts to render sexual experience directly must face the fact that the writings which comprise it are ludicrous without their subjective content.” That is, writing about sex and sexuality is an exploration of our humanity. To write about sex with clarity and accuracy is to engage topics of identity, the body, gender, family, politics, and, yes, the nature of love and longing. In this class, we will write and develop creative nonfiction that tackles life’s most fundamental and challenging subject in all its complexity, humor, eroticism, violence, pathology, vulnerability, awkwardness, and grace.
  • 5:30-6:15—Dinner
  • 7:00—Readings by Shawn Vestal; Melissa Febos. (Downtown at the Northwind Arts Center, 701 Water Street.)
  • 8:00—The Eight O’Clock Open-Mike Readings (Building 262)


Thursday, July 21

  • 8:15-8:45—Breakfast
  • 9-11:30—Morning workshops
    • Marvin Bell (Room I)
    • Kwame Dawes (Room J)
    • Jonathan Evison (Room F)
    • Debra Gwartney (Room O)
    • Pam Houston (Room N)
    • Dorianne Laux (Room K)
    • Sam Ligon (Room H)
    • Joy Passanante (Room M)
    • Helena María Viramontes (Room D)
  • 11:45-12:30—Lunch
  • 1-1:50—Afternoon Craft Lecture by Sayantani Dasgupta, “Techniques of Nonfiction”
    1-1:50—Afternoon Craft Lecture by Jonathan Evison, “The Thing Itself”
  • 2-3:30—Afternoon workshops
    • Jourdan Imani Keith (Room M)
      “Trouble the Waters”
      Many women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks find that our relationship with the rest of the natural world and environmental concerns seem to be other than those expressed by the mainstream environmental movement. But a shift is occurring, as demonstrated by such books as Lauret Savoy’s “Trace,” as well as personal essays published in Orion magazine and others. Your culture history, personal life and environmental headlines are the tributaries for this creative non-fiction workshop. You will have a personal essay in the flash non-fiction style when we are done.
    • Shawn Vestal (Room N)
      “Stories Within Stories”
      Stories are built upon other stories, and many short stories house shorter narratives within—stories that are framed by narrators, stories the characters tell or don’t tell about themselves, stories that inform the larger story and what it means to us as human beings. In this class we will read and discuss examples of short stories that upon stories told by the characters for energy, revelation and meaning: Barry Hannah’s “Water Liars,” Grace Paley’s “Distance,” and George Saunders’s “Home.”
    • Kate Lebo (Room K)
      “The Night Will Erase You: an Erasure Workshop”
      To make an erasure, one writer takes the work of another and makes a new text from within a printed one. An erased text survives its erasure; in most cases, we can buy another copy. So it’s not stealing or destroying, not exactly. It’s more like talking to someone who just left the room. Which also means it’s like talking to ourselves. In this workshop we’ll study the erasures of Tom Phillips, Jennifer Borges Foster, Srikanth Reddy, Matthea Harvey, Sappho, and others. Then we’ll make our own erasures, borrowing from literature, visual art, and book art to find our voices within another writer’s.
    • Joseph Millar (Room M)
      “Objects, Rumors, Secrets and Lies”
      In poetry, how do we tell secrets or lies—or rumors? Practice-writing will include a list of words, a phrase, and sundry other torturous promptings. This class is generative—expect to write! We’ll look at your drafts for various versions of developing narrative: how to come at the story slantwise, what to leave in, what to leave out.
    • Greg Glazner (Room O)
      “Contemporary Poems with Environmental Concerns.”
      This class will look at the tension between the need for the imagination to remain free of prior conceptual restraints, on the one hand, and the need for poets to be deeply concerned about their world, on the other. Poems such as “to the fig tree on 9th and christian” by Ross Gay, “Techno” by Dana Levin, “In History” by Jon Davis, and “Against Botticelli” by Robert Hass manage this tension in memorable ways.
    • Sayantani Dasgupta (Room H)
      “Swag, Selfies, and TBT: Mining Popular Culture to Write Your Life”
      From hastags to selfies, from “killin’ it” to YOLO, from that song we heard as twelve-year-olds to the TV show we must revisit once every year, our lives are a mosaic of the pop culture around us. It roots us to specific times and places irrespective of whether or not we are willing participants—and influences everything ranging from crime, reportage and literature to fashion, politics and even pet adoptions. In this workshop, we will revisit such cultural markers, read works by Bich Minh Nguyen and Roxane Gay, and turn our memories into vibrant nonfiction.
    • Gary Copeland Lilley (Room L)
      “How to Sharpen a Knife”
      In this workshop, participants will create a poem where images and details from personal and cultural histories operate as the central element of the poem. There will be a handout or two, and a very short discussion, and writing. This is not an effort to recreate a factual incident (unless that is what you really want to do), but rather to use the information that a poet gathers throughout their life. There are moments of heat all through our lives, perhaps, there is a specific moment that will launch the poem and then the imagination rules. For instance, think of situations to use the power of the adjective to create vivid images, enhance the musicality, and convey tone; and consider the strength created through your line breaks and compression. Stepping into this workshop with that mentality will go far in elevating the quality of the first draft (and it also will elevate the quality of each subsequent revision). That’s what this is about.
    • Nina Mukerjee Furstenau (Room F)
      “A Likely Story: Food-Writing Workshop”
      For almost all people, food is journey to identity. More than sustenance, food holds memory, desire, reward from frustration, and link to place; food can represent how we live and who we are; food holds story. In this workshop, we will take a look at what is evocative and engages readers. You will shape your piece by answering the burning question, “why are you telling me this,” with work that is situated within the wider culture. In both fiction and nonfiction, food is tether to heritage. See how yours—or your character’s—is revealed by what’s at the end of the fork.
    • Melissa Febos (Room J)
      “The Very Short Essay”
      In this generative workshop, we will study and practice the art of the miniature personal essay. Works of 500 to 2,000 words are among the easiest to publish and the hardest to write. To reach true emotional depth in few pages requires both skillful economy of language and strength of heart; you have to get to core of your experience, and swiftly. We will examine the work of the form’s masters (Annie Dillard, Jo Ann Beard, and others), sharpen our tools of craft—especially story structure, pacing, and the art of both showing and telling—and produce our own original drafts. Participants will leave the workshop with multiple drafts to develop.
  • 5:30-6:15—Dinner
  • 7:00—Readings by Debra Gwartney; Helena María Viramontes
  • 9:00—the Nine O’Clock Open-Mike Readings (Building 262)


Friday, July 22

  • 8:15-8:45—Breakfast
  • 9-11:30—Morning workshops
    • Marvin Bell (Room I)
    • Kwame Dawes (Room J)
    • Jonathan Evison (Room F)
    • Debra Gwartney (Room O)
    • Pam Houston (Room N)
    • Dorianne Laux (Room K)
    • Sam Ligon (Room H)
    • Joy Passanante (Room M)
    • Helena María Viramontes (Room D)
  • 11:45-12:30—Lunch
  • 1-1:50—Afternoon Craft Lecture by Marvin Bell, “Turning Up the Heat”
    1-1:50—Afternoon Craft Lecture by Sam Ligon
  • 2-3:30—Afternoon workshops
    • Shawn Vestal (Room N)
      “Raymond Carver, Gordon Lish and the Editing Process: How Much is Too Much?”
      The relationship between Raymond Carver and his early editor, Gordon Lish, has been the subject of much discussion and debate. In this class we will read and discuss two versions of Carver’s story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”—Carver’s draft of the story, which was titled “Beginners,” and Lish’s edits, which the New Yorker published in 2007. For this class, you will read Carver’s first story and the story as edited by Lish, and come prepared to discuss them. Among the issues we will discuss: What values underly the editing choices? What is the effect of Lish’s editorial intervention—how does it alter the nature of the story, and does it improve the story? What do you think is the proper balance between writer and editor?
    • Joseph Millar (Room M)
      “Objects, Rumors, Secrets and Lies”
      In poetry, how do we tell secrets or lies—or rumors? Practice-writing will include a list of words, a phrase, and sundry other torturous promptings. This class is generative—expect to write! We’ll look at your drafts for various versions of developing narrative: how to come at the story slantwise, what to leave in, what to leave out.
    • Greg Glazner (Room O)
      “Larry Levis at Length”
      In this class, we will tackle the close reading of two of Larry Levis’s masterful long poems. These poems—“The Cook Grew Lost in His Village, The Village in the Endless Shuffling of Cards” and “Elegy with a Thimbleful of Water in the Cage”—show how a disarming, nuanced voice and layerings and evolutions of images combine to powerful effect.
    • Sayantani Dasgupta (Room H)
      “Your Life in Parts: Writing the Segmented Essay”
      The segmented essay allows the author to step outside conventional narrative patterns of time and place. A segmented essay works in segments or parts that build off of each other. They are interspersed with white space, which functions as an essential design and foundation element, and therefore, segmented essays do not require traditional transitions. The segments may include personal story, research, change in authorial voice and perspective, shifts of time, etc. While all these disparate segments (including the silences and white spaces) must have their individual character and arc intact, they must also all work together. In this class, we will look at the form through the writings of accomplished essayists and work on fleshing out a segmented essay of our own.
    • Susan Landgraf (Room L)
      “Who Are You Like in Your Writing Habits?” W. H. Auden? Simone de Beauvoir? Stephen King? Colette?
      In 2007, Will Self said this about surviving the writing life: “Rituals. Smoking—pipes, cigars, special brands, accessories, the whole bollocks. Coffee, tea, strange infusions. I have a stove on my desk. Fetishising typewriters, pens, etc.” W. H. Auden went about it this way: He used Benzedrine, then took Seconal when he wanted to sleep, and kept a glass of vodka by his bed. This workshop will ask you to examine not who you are but what you are and how to get from want to need to do in your writing life. Plan to have fun—and prepare for absolute commitment.
    • Colette Tennant (Room K)
      “Let’s Get Gothic”
      Family secrets tucked away in a forgotten trunk, dingy dungeons, divided identities, a scream in the night, mad women in the attic—oh the oxymoronic joy of Gothic literature. When we enter this fictional world, we enjoy being scared. Too often writers delegate Gothic literature to prose writers, but the Gothic genre offers poets a scary-rich resource as well. In this workshop, we will briefly review the definition of Gothic. We will also read and discuss a few model Gothic poems. Then using prompts, we will use the bulk of the workshop to launch into writing our own Gothic poems. Beware—they might include shocking lineages, transformations, ghosting, murder, and other mayhem.
    • Gary Copeland Lilley (Room F)
      “How to Sharpen a Knife”
      In this workshop, participants will create a poem where images and details from personal and cultural histories operate as the central element of the poem. There will be a handout or two, and a very short discussion, and writing. This is not an effort to recreate a factual incident (unless that is what you really want to do), but rather to use the information that a poet gathers throughout their life. There are moments of heat all through our lives, perhaps, there is a specific moment that will launch the poem and then the imagination rules. For instance, think of situations to use the power of the adjective to create vivid images, enhance the musicality, and convey tone; and consider the strength created through your line breaks and compression. Stepping into this workshop with that mentality will go far in elevating the quality of the first draft (and it also will elevate the quality of each subsequent revision). That’s what this is about.
    • Melissa Febos (Room J)
      “Personal Matters: Pushing the Boundaries of First-Person Nonfiction”
      Memoir is not a dirty word. Confessions often make compelling stories. Nonetheless, as personal writers, we must seek to bring thoughtfulness, honesty, and real craft into this bloated landscape of bloggers and tabloids; we must be artful, intellectual, innovative, and accessible. This circumspection need not exclude emotional intimacy. As Virginia Woolf said, “A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out.” A writer can plumb experiences of sex, addiction, violence, love, madness, and all manner of internal phenomena while avoiding pitfalls of insularity and sensationalism. In this class, we will examine the way experience, emotion, research, and intellection are integrated in creative nonfiction through both traditional and innovative craft techniques, and then we will generate work by applying these techniques to our own stories.
  • 5:30-6:15—Dinner
  • 7:00—Readings by Joseph Millar; Pam Houston
  • 9:00—the Nine O’Clock Open-Mike Readings (Building 262)


Saturday, July 23

  • 8:15-8:45—Breakfast
  • 9-11:30—Morning workshops
    • Marvin Bell (Room I)
    • Kwame Dawes (Room J)
    • Jonathan Evison (Room F)
    • Debra Gwartney (Room O)
    • Pam Houston (Room N)
    • Dorianne Laux (Room K)
    • Sam Ligon (Room H)
    • Joy Passanante (Room M)
    • Helena María Viramontes (Room D)
  • 11:45-12:30—Lunch
  • 1-2—Faculty Book Signing (Room F)
  • 5:30-6:15—Dinner
  • 7:00—Readings by Dorianne Laux; Kwame Dawes
  • 9:00—Pie & Whiskey Night (Building 262)

 

FACULTY BIOS

Marvin Bell’s twenty-three books include poetry, essays, a children’s book and an original form known as the “Dead Man Poem.” His many literary honors include awards from the Academy of American Poets and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, and Senior Fulbright appointments.

Sayantani Dasgupta teaches creative writing, religious studies, and south-Asian history and literature at the University of Idaho. Work has appeared in Gulf Stream, SN Review, Blood Orange Review and other magazines. Her essay “On Seeking Answers” received a 2010 Pushcart Prize Special Mention.

Kwame Dawes is the award-winning author of seventeen books of poetry and numerous books of fiction, non-fiction, and criticism and drama. He is the editor of Prairie Schooner, and a professor of English at the University of Nebraska. Kwame Dawes also teaches in the Pacific MFA Writing program.

Jonathan Evison is best-known for his novels All About Lulu, West of Here, and The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving. His work, often distinguished by its emotional resonance and offbeat humor, has been compared by critics to a variety of authors, most notably J.D. Salinger, Charles Dickens, T.C. Boyle, and John Irving.

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010) and the essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017). She has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Arts, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Bread Loaf, Vermont Studio Center, and The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; and her essays have won awards from Prairie Schooner, Story Quarterly, The Center for Women Writers; and special notice from The Best American Essays and Pushcart series. She is Assistant Professor of Creative Nonfiction at Monmouth University, and faculty at The Institute of American Indian Arts.

Nina Furstenau grew up in Kansas, served in the Peace Corps in Tunisia, and founded a publishing company with her husband. Now a journalist and food writer, she teaches journalism at the University of Missouri. Her first book is the culinary memoir, “Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland.”

Greg Glazner is the author of two books of poetry, From the Iron Chair and Singularity, both published by W.W. Norton. Excerpts from his recently-completed novel, Opening the World, have appeared in Ploughshares, Poetry, The Colorado Review, Seneca Review, the Idaho Review, and other magazines. He teaches at UC Davis.

Debra Gwartney is the author of Live Through This, a memoir published in 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The book was also a finalist in 2009 for the National Books for a Better Life Award and the Oregon Book Award.

Susan Landgraf’s chapbook “Other Voices” came out in 2009. Her poems have appeared in nearly two hundred magazines, including Poet Lore, Ploughshares, and the Cincinnati Poetry Review. Honors include grants to travel and study in South Africa, Namibia, Peru, and Bolivia. She currently teaches at Highline Community College.

Gary Copeland Lilley is the author of four collections of poetry: “Black Poem,” “Alpha Zulu,” “The Reprehensibles,” and “The Subsequent Blues.” Lilley has been a poet-in-residence at WritersCorps, Young Chicago Authors, and The Poetry Center of Chicago. He also received the DC Commission on the Arts Fellowship for Poetry.

Pam Houston is the author of two collections of linked short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat; the novels Sight Hound and Contents May Have Shifted; and a collection of essays called A Little More About Me, all published by W.W. Norton. Her stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies.

Dorianne Laux fifth collection, The Book of Men, winner of The Paterson Prize, is available from W.W. Norton. Her fourth book of poems, Facts about the Moon, won The Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also the author of Awake, What We Carry, and Smoke.

Kate Lebo is the author of Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter and A Commonplace Book of Pie. Her essay about listening through hearing loss, “The Loudproof Room,” originally published in New England Review, was reprinted in the Best American Essays 2015 anthology.

Samuel Ligon, the Artistic Director of the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, is the author of Drift and Swerve, a collection of stories, and Safe in Heaven Dead, a novel. His new novel, Among the Dead and Dreaming, is forthcoming in 2016. Ligon teaches at Eastern Washington University in Spokane, and is the editor of Willow Springs.

Joe Millar is the author of several poetry collections, including Blue Rust, Fortune, and Overtime, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Millar, who has taught at Pacific University, the University of Oregon, and Oregon State University, lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife, poet Dorianne Laux.

Joy Passanante’s work appears in such magazines as the Gettysburg Review, the Alaska Quarterly Review, and Shenandoah. Both her collection of stories, The Art of Absence, and her novel, My Mother’s Lovers, were finalists for several national awards. She has also published a book of poems, Sinning in Italy and is completing a book of nonfiction.

Marcia Perlstein, Port Townsend’s 2014 Angel of the Arts, has been a licensed Marriage Family and Child Therapist in practice since 1967. She is the editor of Flowers Can Even Bloom in Schools and the author of more than thirty published articles in numerous journals including Sinister Wisdom and the Journal of Women and Therapy.

Colette Tennant is an English Professor at Corban University in Salem, Oregon where she teaches creative writing and literature. Her first book of poems, Commotion of Wings, was published in 2010. Her second book of poems, “Eden and After,” has just been published by Tebot Bach.

Shawn Vestal’s debut novel, Daredevils recently appeared from Penguin Press. His collection of short stories, Godforsaken Idaho, published in 2013, was named the winner of the PEN/​Robert W. Bingham Prize. Stories have appeared in many magazines and journals. Vestal teaches in the MFA program at Eastern Washington University.

Helena María Viramontes is currently Director of the Cornell University Creative Writing Program. Helena is is the author of Their Dogs Came with Them, a novel, and two previous works of fiction, The Moths and Other Stories and Under the Feet of Jesus, a novel. Her work is widely taught and anthologized.

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