2023 Morning Intensive Faculty: Nonfiction

EJ Colen

You Are Everything Connected

Collage has been called the single most important innovation in art of the 20th century. In this workshop-based class, we will explore the visual and literary roots of this innovation and examine the ways in which lyric essay / literary collage can use experimentation, unconventional movements, thematic links, imagistic echoes, and in-between spaces to cultivate meaning. You will experiment with ways to grow your writing by examining known and unknown factors, making connections both obvious and unexpected, and creating or expanding an essay to include the wide world around you. In this workshop, both generative and process-focused, we will spend the week discussing several short examples of innovative craft and working towards completion of one short personal essay. You are encouraged to bring a work in progress (2-5 pages) that you want to shake up. This generative workshop is appropriate for writers at all levels, working within, between, or across any genre.

EJ Colen is a PNW-based educator, writer, and editor interested in long-form poetry, the lyric essay, literary and visual collage, and research-based approaches to storytelling and memoir. She is the author of What Weaponry, a novel in prose poems, poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Lambda Literary Award and Audre Lorde Award finalist in 2011) and Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies, flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake, long poem / lyric essay hybrid The Green Condition, and fiction collaboration True Ash. With more than two decades of social justice activism, EJ remains committed to centering marginalized voices in all the work that she does. Nonfiction editor at Tupelo Press and freelance editor/manuscript consultant, she teaches in the English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Departments at Western Washington University. 

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

CMarie Fuhrman

An Intimate Cartography

This class is for the curious nonfiction/memoir writer who wishes to go on an intimate journey of memory, place, and meaning. You can expect to see writing in color, texture, ridgelines, and roads. You will engage curiosity and create new work through a series of exercises meant to find meaning in the places, things, and beings that your compass rose swings toward, that have been waiting for you to awaken them in your memory’s geography. You will find that story, your story, is rich, complex, and waiting for you.

CMarie Fuhrman is the author of Camped Beneath the Dam: Poems (Floodgate 2020) and co-editor of Native Voices: Indigenous Poetry, Craft, and Conversations (Tupelo 2019). She has forthcoming or published poetry and nonfiction in multiple journals including Emergence Magazine, Platform Review, Yellow Medicine Review, Cutthroat a Journal of the Arts, Whitefish Review, Poetry Northwest, as well as several anthologies.  CMarie is a regular columnist for the Inlander, translations editor for Broadsided Press, non-fiction editor for High Desert Journal and Upstreet, and Director of the Elk River Writers Workshop. CMarie is the Director of Poetry Western Colorado University, where she also teaches Nature Writing. She is the 2021-2023 Idaho Writer in Residence and she resides in the mountains of West Central Idaho with her partner Caleb and their dogs Carhartt and Cisco. 

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

Shawn Vestal

Writing From Your Life

All writing emerges from our own experience – even the most fictionalized narratives and most stylized inventions are built upon the foundation of inescapable, personal, lived experience. In this workshop, we are going to discuss, and practice, how to draw material from the well of our own lives and shape it into essay and memoir. Each class will be framed around a theme (The Journey, Home, Unearthing Meaning, Placing Yourself in the Wider World, etc.), and will be divided between in-class writing, and reading and evaluating published essays. Our in-class writing will be built on the use of timed prompts that are suggestive, not proscriptive  including photography, objects and sound – to help you identify and visualize experiences from your own life, begin writing about those experiences, and discuss ways to expand that in-class writing after you leave.

Shawn Vestal’s debut novel, Daredevils, was published in spring 2016 by Penguin Press. His collection of short stories, Godforsaken Idaho, published by New Harvest in April 2013, was named the winner of the PEN/​Robert W. Bingham Prize, which honors a debut book that “represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.” He also published A.K.A. Charles Abbott, a short memoir, as a Kindle Single in October 2013. His stories have appeared in Tin House, McSweeney’s, Ecotone, The Southern Review, Cutbank, Sou’wester, Florida Review and other journals. He writes a column for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane,Wash., and teaches in the MFA program at Eastern Washington University. 

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

What to expect:

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