So What Can I Still Do?

A lot!

Well, not a lot, I guess. There are only two remaining options if you want to attend the 2011 Port Townsend Writers’ Conference.

1. Poet Cate Marvin has one space left in her core morning poetry workshop. All other workshops are full, with waiting lists.

2. Our lineup of afternoon workshops remains open for registration. More information is available here. You can sign up for three, four, five, or six of these afternoon sessions. Enclosed is the schedule for only one day of the very full week.  


Midge Raymond
Room M
“Setting the Scene”
Place plays an important role in any story, from offering insight into characters to creating a mood. This workshop will help you get a sense of the where in your writing, from researching places to incorporating details and dialogue. We’ll look at classic and contemporary examples of how writers use setting to flesh out stories—and a variety of writing prompts will teach you how to pay attention to place in your work.

Sam Ligon Room N
“Negative Space in Fiction”
While we’ve all heard the writing advice to “show, don’t tell,” just as important to fiction is what we don’t show or tell—what we reveal through absence or omission. Musicians and composers use silence in song to create tension and meaning and contrast against sound. Painters use negative space around a subject to create contrast and to heighten color and composition in the subject itself. In fiction, what’s not revealed, and how it’s not revealed, often creates a tremendous gravity of absence, or a kind of shadow effect, that informs character and meaning in story. In “Death in the Afternoon,” Ernest Hemingway wrote:
“If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them.” The dignity of movement of the iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. We’ll discuss Hemingway’s “iceberg principal,” or what Amy Hempel refers to as “negative space,” using two stories as examples of creating shape, meaning, and gravity through absence or omission—Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” and Hempel’s “Today Will Be a Quiet Day.”

Susan Landgraf Room O
“What Your Body Has To Do With Writing”
We know our own bodies intimately. Some of us accept them; others wish for better, thinner, healthier, more muscled….The fact is: there are poems waiting to come out of your body and its experiences. We’ll look at ways our bodies can tell stories—and truths—in poetry and prose by going to the sources themselves. Sometimes these stories, whether in prose or poetry, are snappy, saucy, and downright funny. Plan to have fun with this.

Maya Jewell Zeller Room K
“Object, Image, and Fascination with the Thing: The Making of Poetry from Raw Material to Revision”
In this workshop, we will examine poems which rely on the repetition and morphing of lyric image to create a narrative. From Wallace Stevens’ meditative “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” to Nancy Pagh’s humorous “Ten Reasons Your Prayer Diet Won’t Work,” poets spin out complex associations from seemingly simple concepts. We’ll do some fun exercises which begin by helping you create raw material and end in the culmination of a poem draft. Each participant should leave with something new to work with, and some suggestions for how to shape it.

Susan J. Erickson Room F
“The Beguiling Ghazal”
The “ghazal” is an ancient poetic form originating in the Middle East. The couplets of the ghazal are self-sufficient and thematically independent, but united through rhyme and refrain. We’ll look at the basics of the ghazal, read examples, then experiment with writing a traditional ghazal using, if desired, a prompt to supply the rhyme and refrain. Or, compose a Westernized version such as written by Lorna Crozier and Robert Bly. A handout will be supplied to inspire further ghazal adventures.

Wendy Call Room D
“Just Who’s Telling This Story, Anyway?: First-person Narrator”
In this workshop, we’ll explore the multi-faceted role of the first-person narrator in nonfiction prose. We’ll explore narrators created by several writers, including Sherman Alexie and James Agee. Next, we’ll create character sketches of our own first-person narrators, and learn how to tame that three-headed monster: author, first-person narrator, and “I-character.”

Gary Copeland Lilley Room H
“The Poetry Woodshed”
The infamous woodshed: for storing the fuel to light the fire in your poems, a session for administering the discipline of poetics, or to practice on playing your literary instrument. The woodshed is a fast-paced poetry workshop to hone your revision drafts with other poets. The participants should bring copies of their draft poem to the session. Spare the analytical rod and you will spoil the poem.

Brian Christian Room L
“The Third Thing: Exercises in Register”
Ezra Pound argued that the power of poetry comes from three sources: sound, image…and a third thing, which he had to invent a word for.  Arguably the most powerful driving force in 20th and 21st-century poetry is also the least explored—Pound called it “logopoeia”; we now call it register, or the reason why the words “pearlescent” and “dudes” don’t mix. Through close readings and our own experiments, we’ll have a look at the power and possibilities of register in 20th and 21st century poetry—including your own.