The afternoon workshops are a vital component of the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference. Happening from 2 to 3:30 pm each day, you have a choice between six or seven workshops on which to drop in, selecting from a variety of options in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or cross-genre topics.
These classes can be taken as part of the full Conference experience, or on their own. Here are the offerings for Saturday, July 23.
• Midge Raymond Room F
“Be Your Own Editor”
As Ernest Hemingway once said, “Easy writing makes hard reading.” Revision is a necessary part of any writing project, yet revising one’s own work can often seem daunting. In this workshop, you’ll learn tools for how to approach your own writing with the objectivity of an editor. We’ll talk about when to begin the revision process as well as how to divide it into palatable stages. Bring a work-in-progress for in-class writing. Learn more about Midge Raymond‘s teaching and writing.
• Elizabeth Austen Room M
“Beyond the Page: Poems Aloud, Poems Alive”
What does it take to make poems come alive in performance? Commitment, practice… and some skills that we’ll explore in this interactive workshop. We’ll explore the physical nature of language, and practice embodying the poem—backing it up with breath, voice and body. You’ll leave with concrete tools to improve your reading skills and public presence. Applicable to all styles of poetry. Bring two short poems.
Elizabeth Austen runs a terrific blog.
• Deborah Poe, Room L
“The Sensual Infrastructure: Between the Abstract and Concrete”
As prose and poetry writers, we will reflect on how one can improve writing by way of deftly balancing abstract and concrete language. By weaving abstract and concrete language through spatial description and sensory details, readers are able to connect to stories and poems more deeply. We’ll consider how bridging the abstract and tangible does not merely provide a descriptive function. Such bridging engages readers more directly intellectually, psychologically and emotionally with the importance of your work. Read a review of her most recent book, “Elements,” here!
• Jenifer Lawerence Room K
Why is it that we can’t throw away those scraps of random and apparently insignificant memories? Inconsequential bits of our lives rattle around in our heads, only to pop up at unpredictable moments. Remember the time the dog got loose and your father ran outside in his underwear to catch him? How about the time you stuffed an entire Moonpie in your mouth on a dare? Borrowing (stealing?) a trick or two from contemporary poets, we will recycle these scraps of memory into startling, engaging poems. Adapted from an exercise by Steve Kowit. Bring your notebooks! Read a review of her collection of poems “One Hundred Steps From Shore.”
• Wendy Call Room D
“I love your je ne sais quoi…: Style”
In this workshop, we’ll ask perhaps the toughest of questions: Just how do they do it? How do writers create voices on the page so singular that we recognize them immediately? We’ll look at short examples by David Foster Wallace and Joan Didion, parse their inimitable and unmistakable styles, and explore our own. Visit Wendy Call’s website.
• Sheila Bender Room H
“Making Your Personal Essay a Universal Essay”
Worried about too much me, me, me in your writing? Worried there’s a lack of “you” in your writing? We’ll work on techniques to put the two— you and the world—in balance in your writing and discover the strategies that hook and inform readers even as the speaker in the essay searches for a personal insight. We’ll study and untangle the ways successful creative nonfiction places us in particular geographies, situations and time periods to carry us into emotional journeys we are willing and interested to make. Learn more about Sheila Bender.
• Gary Copeland Lilley Room N
“Writing the Persona Poem”
This workshop focuses on the writing of the persona poem. The poetic persona is the mask that poets use to reveal truths without standing on the soapbox. If you want to write the persona poem, or written one, this is the workshop to critique your efforts and examines the choices available in creating the aesthetic voice, the credible character speak that is the primary vehicle for the successful persona poem with others who find the form fascinating. Gary Copeland Lilley reading poems.