2023 Morning Intensive Faculty: Fiction

Kristen Millares Young

Prose Style: Storied Obsessions

What happens when we stop hiding, especially from ourselveswhile we write? In this prose workshop, you will go there. Alongside reading excerpts from Valeria LuiselliOcean VuongAnthony Veasna So, Terese Mailhot (Seabird Island Band), Audre Lorde, Savannah Johnston (Choctaw), Gabriela Garcia and Gloria Anzaldúa, we’ll use a generative workshop model to help you better pursue and convey the preoccupations that compel you to write. After reading the finest works of my favorite novelists, short story writers, and memoirists, you will give rein to your obsessionsThroughout the week, during class and on your own time, you will complete a series of research, writing, revision and feedback sessions, guided by my timed prompts and Jesmyn Ward’s belief that drafting is “a continuous thing.” Workshopping in small breakout groups, you will learn how to provide constructive comments to yourself and others.Our workshop will culminate in an in-class reading of new pages you’ve produced during our time together.

Kristen Millares Young is a journalist, essayist, and author of the novel Subduction, named a staff pick by the Paris Review and called “whip-smart” by the Washington Post, “a brilliant debut” by the Seattle Times, and “utterly unique and important” by Ms. Magazine. Winner of Nautilus and IPPY awards, Subduction was shortlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and named a finalist for two International Latino Book Awards and Foreword Indies Book of the Year in 2020. Her essays, book reviews, and investigations appear in the Washington Post, the GuardianLiterary Huband the anthologies Advanced Creative Nonfiction, Latina Outsiders, and Alone Togetherwinner of a 2021 Washington State Book Award. A former Prose Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House, she is the editor of Seismic: Seattle, City of Literature, a finalist for a 2021 Washington State Book Award. Kristen was the researcher for the New York Times team that produced “Snow Fall,” which won a Pulitzer Prize. She is the 2023 Distinguished Visiting Writer at Seattle University. @kristenmillares

This workshop is offered in-person only and runs from 9am-11:30am PT

Ravi Howard

Visionary Text

Through the study of images and patterns, we will consider what it means to be a visual storyteller. Texts such as Susan Sontag’s anthology of images and grammar of seeing and Toni Morrison’s process of moving from picture to meaning to text will also be a guide. Other lessons in photography will come from Teju Cole, Eudora Welty, Dawoud Bey, Carrie Mae Weems, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and others. The goal of the workshop is to find the language that best fits each writer’s visual intentions. What should we see? What is the relationship between the visual story and the interior? Through our readings, writing assignments, and conversations, we will examine how single images are developed and combined to create a complete narrative.

Ravi Howard is the author of two novels, Like, Trees, Walking and Driving the King (HarperCollins). In addition to being selected as a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, Like, Trees, Walking won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Howard has received fellowships and awards from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, the Hurston-Wright Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.His short fiction has appeared in Salon, Massachusetts Review, Silent Beaches, Untold Stories, Saw Palm, and Alabama Noir. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, Atlanta, and Gravy, and he has recorded commentary and fiction for NPR’s All Things Considered and Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Thacker Mountain Radio. He has taught creative writing with the Hurston-Wright Foundation, Callaloo, Kimbilio, Minnesota Northwoods, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He is currently an assistant professor in the creative writing program at Florida State University. 

This workshop is offered in-person only and runs from 9am-11:30am PT

Sam Ligon

Flash Fiction Intensive

In the anthology Sudden Fiction, Robert Kelly refers to short-short fiction as “the insidious, sudden, alarming, stabbing, tantalizing, annihilating form… neither poetic prose nor prosy verse, but the energy and clarity typical of prose coincident in the scope and rhythm of the poem.” In the same anthology, Joyce Carol Oates writes that, “Very short fictions are nearly always experimental, exquisitely calibrated, reminiscent of Frost’s definition of a poem—a structure of words that consumes itself as it unfolds, like ice melting on a stove.” Very short fictions tend to rely on surprise, a hard turn at the end. They’re often elliptical or fragmented, shaped by tone and shadow. In this workshop, we’ll be exploring compression and limitation, evocation and implication, formal constraint and what might arise from line pressure and narrative restriction. We’ll  immerse ourselves in a fever of flash fiction reading and writing, composing and workshopping three short-short stories—an intensive in the annihilating form.

Sam Ligon’s most recent novel — Miller Cane: A True & Exact History — was serialized for a year in Spokane’s weekly newspaper, The Inlander, as well as on Spokane Public Radio. The author of four previous books of fiction, including Wonderland and Safe in Heaven Dead , Ligon is also co-editor, with Kate Lebo, of Pie & Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter & Booze. His stories and essays have appeared in The Georgia ReviewNew England ReviewPrairie SchoonerGettysburg Review, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing at Eastern Washington University in Spokane and serves as EWU’s Faculty Legislative Liaison in Olympia.

What to expect:

To learn more about the Port Townsend Writers Conference experience, please click this link to view the PTWC 2023 Catalog.