Poetry | Fiction | Nonfiction
Adrian Blevins | Morning Poetry Intensive
“When the lamb humped her leg Lil said it was getting on / her last nerve”*: Writing Voice-y Now
In this workshop, we’ll work together to interrogate what we mean when we talk about a poet’s “voice.” We’ll look at poems by poets working from a wide range of aesthetic sensibilities, aims, and ambitions in order to ask who or what speaks in or through a poem. We’ll then move into our own generative experiments to try to trouble our own voice(s) with new sounds (and silences). How might we make the voices we generate more audible to readers? Why should we? And what does any of this have to do with the end of the world? *From Diane Seuss’s frank: sonnets
Adrian Blevins is the author of the forthcoming Status Pending (Four Way Books, 2023), Appalachians Run Amok, Live from the Homesick Jamboree, The Brass Girl Brouhaha, and a co-edited collection of essays by new and emerging Appalachian writers. She is the recipient of many awards and honors including the Wilder Prize from Two Sylvias Press, a Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Foundation Award, among others. She is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.
Terrance Hayes | Morning Poetry Intensive
READING TO WRITE: A DIY Poetry Workshop
This generative workshop will explore the ways active reading can lead to new poems. During the week we will look at how an assortment of canonical and contemporary poems are in conversation with other poems and other genres (music, film, journalism). We’ll use the “verum factum” principle (maker’s knowledge) to generate poems during the workshop. No advance reading or preparation necessary.
Terrance Hayes’s most recent publications include American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin (Penguin 2018) and To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight (Wave, 2018). To Float In The Space Between was winner of the Poetry Foundation’s 2019 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism and a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin won the Hurston/Wright 2019 Award for Poetry and was a finalist the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry, the 2018 TS Eliot Prize for Poetry, and the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Hayes is a Professor of English at New York University.
Matthew Olzmann| Morning Poetry Intensive
The Poetic Turn(s)
Richard Hugo says, “A poem can be said to have two subjects, the initiating or triggering subject, which starts the poem or ‘causes’ the poem to be written, and the real or generated subject.” This workshop will consider how a poem turns between these two points of focus, and how it guides or startles the reader from one “subject” to the next. To do that, we’ll study the ways in which a reader’s expectations are established, and then we’ll look at how those expectations might then be subverted, complicated, or intensified. In addition to discussing your poems, this will be a generative workshop with some in-class writing and some additional take-home “assignments.” The goal is to emerge at the end of the week with some newly made poems in hand, as well as some strategies to use in the poems you’ll continue to write long after our time together is over.
Matthew Olzmann is the author of Constellation Route as well as two previous collections of poetry: Mezzanines and Contradictions in the Design. A recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, MacDowell, and the National Endowment for the Arts, Olzmann’s poems have appeared in The New York Times, Best American Poetry, the Pushcart Prizes, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. He is a Senior Lecturer of Creative Writing at Dartmouth College and also teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
Anastacia-Reneé | Morning Poetry Intensive
When Poetry Meets Memoir
Memory (the deliberate act of remembering) is a form of willed creation. It is not an effort to find out the way it really was–that is research. The point is to dwell on the way it appeared and why it appeared in that particular way. -Toni Morrison
In this genre–bending workshop we will collectively and independently explore and interrogate stories, communal folklore and the archival of memories. We will lay ourmemories (from multiple points of view) out and jigsaw them to create, uphold and deconstruct form. We’ll begin each workshop with writing prompts to generate smaller pieces of work and each participant will leave with the workshop with three drafted pieces of hybrid work: The Haibun, Nines, and micro sci-fi-flash-fiction. All class materials are provided.
Anastacia-Reneé (She/They) is a queer writer, educator, interdisciplinary artist, speaker and podcaster. She is the author of (v.) (Black Ocean) and Forget It (Black Radish) and, Here in the (Middle) of Nowhere and Side Notes from the Archivist forthcoming from Amistad (an imprint of HarperCollins). They were selected by NBC News as part of the list of “Queer Artist of Color Dominate 2021’s Must See LGBTQ Art Shows.” Anastacia-Reneé was former Seattle Civic Poet (2017-2019), Hugo House Poet-in-Residence (2015-2017), Arc Artist Fellow (2020) and Jack Straw Curator (2020). Her work has been anthologized in: Teaching Black: The Craft of Teaching on Black Life and Literature, Home is Where You Queer Your Heart, Furious Flower Seeding the Future of African American Poetry, Afrofuturism, Black Comics, And Superhero Poetry, Joy Has a Sound, Spirited Stone: Lessons from Kubota’s Garden, and Seismic: Seattle City of Literature and has appeared in, Hobart, Foglifter, Auburn Avenue, Catapult, Alta, Torch, Poetry Northwest, A-Line, Cascadia Magazine, Hennepin Review, Ms. Magazine and others. Reneé has received fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, VONA, Ragdale, Mineral School, and The New Orleans Writers Residency.
Arna Bontemps Hemenway | Morning Fiction Intensive
Getting Going With Your Story
How do you form a good idea for a story or a character? Once you have one, how do you get it on the page without losing its magic? In this intensive we will engage in a variety of writing exercises, writing prompts, and writing discussions in an attempt to find answers to these questions. These activities are aimed at helping you feel excited about new possibilities for your prose, confident in generating new ideas, and energized as you start to write them. We will look at examples of how other writers have met these challenges; we will also explore different specific, practical strategies that you can use to design and draft a new story or manuscript. We will practice traditional fiction, short fiction, micro-fiction, and hybrid forms, as well as improving elements like character development and dramatic tension. We will also practice reading as writers, revising as writers, and (optionally) workshopping as writers. Everything we will do, though, is designed to meet you where you are in your own writing experience, whether it’s just starting out or part of a longer journey already. The goal is for you to leave feeling experienced, sure of your own abilities, and inspired; the goal is also to make sure you can take away a toolbox of specific, practical exercises, prompts, and practices that you can use to keep all of this going on your own, once the conference concludes.
Arna Bontemps Hemenway is the author of Elegy on Kinderklavier (Sarabande Books), winner of the PEN/Hemingway Prize, finalist for the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, and long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize. His short fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, Best American Short Stories 2015, A Public Space, Ecotone, and The Missouri Review, among other venues. He holds an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is currently Associate Professor of English in Creative Writing at Baylor University, and lives in Dallas, where he cares for his two wonderful children.
David Haynes | Morning Fiction Intensive
Greetings from the Borders
Do you have a story to share but are nervous because a central character is, “…you know, not like me…?” Have you been accused of having “cross-cultural writing tendencies?” Fear no more! This prose workshop will consider the tension, energy, and narrative possibilities (and impossibilities) that exist at the borders between various identities. We’ll take a deep dive into the intersections of craft and culture in our own work and in the work of other writers who inhabit these borders in interesting ways. My goal is for each of you is to leave the class with less anxiety about writing the worlds that you know and excited about the promise of seeing across the boundaries that may tend to circumscribe our work.
David Haynes is the author of seven novels for adults and five books for younger readers. He is an emeritus professor of English at Southern Methodist University, where he directed the creative writing program for ten years. Since 1996 he has taught regularly in MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and has also taught writing at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Hamline University, at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, and at the Writers’ Garret in Dallas. He has received a fellowship from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and several of his short stories have been read and recorded for the National Public Radio series “Selected Shorts.” His seventh and most recently novel is A STAR IN THE FACE OF THE SKY. He is also the author of a series for children called “The West Seventh Wildcats.” His upcoming book is a collection, MARTHA’S DAUGHTER: A NOVELLA AND STORIES. David Haynes co-founded and serves as the Board Chair for Kimbilio, a community of writers and scholars committed to developing, empowering and sustaining fiction writers from the African diaspora and their stories.
Kristen Millares Young | Morning Fiction Intensive
The Architecture of the Unsaid
The best novels submerge their intentions. When we compel readers to think through the choices of our characters, we create empathy by using craft. During this generative workshop, you will learn how to move toward complexity through revision. With close study of recent works by Gabriela Garcia, Valeria Luiselli, Savannah Johnston (Choctaw) and Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Band), you will develop and hone a chapter-length story. Throughout the week, during class and on your own time, you will complete a series of writing, revision and feedback sessions, guided by my prompts and Jesmyn Ward’s belief that drafting is “a continuous thing.” You’ll practice the art of elision through dialogue, relying on setting, image and syntax to imply emotional landscapes. I will show you how to provide constructive comments to yourself and others, knowing that kindness is the greatest form of rigor.
Kristen Millares Young is the 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. Shortlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, Subduction won Nautilus and IPPY awards and was also a finalist for two International Latino Book Awards and Foreword Indies Book of the Year. Her short stories, essays, reviews and investigations appear most recently in the Washington Post, The Rumpus, PANK Magazine, the Los Angeles Review, Joyland Magazine, Fiction International and Literary Hub, as well as the anthologies Advanced Creative Nonfiction and Alone Together, which won a Washington State Book Award. A former Hugo House Prose Writer-in-Residence, Kristen was the researcher for The New York Times team that produced “Snow Fall,” which won a Pulitzer Prize. She is the editor of Seismic: Seattle, City of Literature, a 2021 Washington State Book Award finalist. A featured presenter for the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, she also teaches a workshop for women at the University of Washington Continuum College.
Sayantani Dasgupta | Morning Nonfiction Intensive
Inventive Wonders: Writing (and revising) Lyric & Hermit Crab Essays
To the extent possible, we will take inspiration from the original meaning and intent of the “workshop.” A room that provides space and tools for the manufacture and repair of goods. Our tools will include looking at several lyric & hermit crab essays and discussing their Craft, and then writing at least 5 new essays of our own. Time permitting, we will revise one or more of these newly-created essays, or at the very least, strategize ways to revise them at our leisure later.
Born in Calcutta and raised in New Delhi, Sayantani Dasgupta received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Idaho. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her most recent book is the short story collection Women Who Misbehave. Her essay collection Fire Girl was a Finalist for the Foreword Indies Awards for Creative Nonfiction. Her writing has essays and stories have appeared in The Rumpus, Hunger Mountain, The Bellingham Review, The Southern Humanities Review, The Hindu, and others. Besides the US, she has also taught writing in India, Italy, and Mexico.
Melissa Febos | Morning Nonfiction Intensive
The Quick and the Deep: The Art of Short Personal Essays
In this generative workshop we will study and practice the art of the very short personal essay. Works of 500 to 1,500 words are among the easiest to publish and the hardest to write. To reach true emotional depth in few pages requires skillful economy of language, masterful deployment of both lyric and narrative modes, and strength of heart; you have to get to core of your experience, and swiftly. We will examine published works that succeed at this (by Annie Dillard, Ross Gay, Mary Reufle, Patricia Smith, Jo Ann Beard, and many others), workshop drafts in progress, sharpen our tools of craft—especially story structure, pacing, poetic devices, and the art of both showing and telling—and produce our own original essays. Participants will leave the workshop with multiple drafts to develop. Workshop submissions are welcome but not required, and should be a single short essay draft, no longer than 2,000 words. Writers of all genres are welcome.
Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir Whip Smart; and three essay collections: Abandon Me, a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist and Publishing Triangle Award finalist; Girlhood, a national bestseller; and Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative. A recipient of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary and of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell, Bread Loaf, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Barbara Deming Foundation, The BAU Institute, Vermont Studio Center, and others; her essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The Believer, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Granta, The Yale Review, Tin House, The Sun, and The New York Times Magazine. She is an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program.
Sebastian Matthews | Morning Nonfiction Intensive
Making (& Remaking) a Scene: Revising Memoir and Personal Essay
Do you slow the scene down, giving it room to breathe, or keep it brief and to the point? What makes for just the right balance of showing and telling? These questions often arise in the revision process. Others include: What story is being told, and why? What role (if any) does the narrator play as an “actor” in the story? How much remove do you want between the two? And are you looking back on previous experiences, bringing current matters to life, or some of both? I’d add: can I create a “present perfect ground” from which to tell the story? Following these lines of questioning, we will spend the week investigating and helping each other revise already drafted personal essays and memoir chapters.
Sebastian Matthews’ latest books are a memoir in essays, Beyond Repair: Living in a Fractured State (Red Hen Press), and a hybrid collection of poetry and prose, Beginner’s Guide to a Head-on Collision (Red Hen Press), an Independent Publisher’s Book Award winner. His other publications include two books of poems, the memoir In My Father’s Footsteps (W.W. Norton & Co.), and the collage novel The Life & Times of American Crow. Matthews is the recipient of a North Carolina Writers Grant and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference’s Bernard de Soto Fellowship in Nonfiction. Along with Stanley Plumly, he edited Search Party: The Collected Poems of William Matthews (Houghton Mifflin), which was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize. Matthews serves on the board of trustees for the Vermont Studio Center and on the advisory board for Callaloo. He is the host of Jazz on a Summer’s Day, a music and talk show broadcasted out of Asheville, NC, and livestreamed at wpvmfm.org. He leads workshops for the Great Smokies Writing Program, UNC-A, and offers classes on occasion at the Flat Iron Writers Room.
Poetry | Fiction | Nonfiction
Gary Copeland Lilley | PTWC Artistic Curator | Afternoon Poetry Workshop
The Dead Poem Society
It’s about resurrecting them. That’s right, you know those dead poems I’m talking about. We all have them. Perhaps you have triaged them as needing life support, but those ghost poems keep nagging at you. Join Gary Copeland Lilley at a workshop about revision, and a re-visioning of the poem from the central images and essential details. Join others and become the poem-whisperer that you need to be. Check out the crafting skills that will sharpen images, enhance the rhythm and musicality, and doing it all without blowing up your original draft. Absolutely true, this ain’t snake-oil, this is putting a heartbeat into the poem using those words that you’ve already written. Yes, you can make your dead poems come alive. Bring ten copies of your poem.
Gary Copeland Lilley is the Artistic Curator for the Port Townsend Writers Conference. Author of eight books of poetry, his most recent publication is The Bushman’s Medicine Show, from Lost Horse Press (2017), and a chapbook, The Hog Killing, from Blue Horse Press (2018). He earned his MFA from the Warren Wilson College Program for Creative Writers. Lilley is a veteran of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine force. He is originally from North Carolina and now lives, writes, performs, and teaches in the Pacific Northwest. He has received the Washington DC Commission on the Arts Fellowship for Poetry. A founding member of The Black Rooster poetry collective, he is published in numerous anthologies and journals. He is a Cave Canem fellow. He can usually be found with a guitar strapped around him.
Tess Gallagher | Afternoon Poetry Workshop
Stimulating the Satori Moment in Poems
Satori is a Japanese Zen Buddhist term for awakening comprehension: deep understanding. It is derived from the Japanese verb satoru, “to know”. But rather than intending a philosophical concept of knowledge, satori concentrates instead on “acquiring of a new point of view in our dealings with life and the world.” It is another name for reaching Enlightenment. In poetry it means a moment (often culminating moment), when the poem wakes us up, startles us into a new awareness. This class will ask writers to take simple elements such as the moon, water, a bridge—or other sets of catalysts and attempt to stimulate this moment. As example I give my own poem: Recognition/ Staring down from the bridge/ at the moon /broken up/ in the river, who/ could know, without looking/ up, it stands whole above/ its shattered self. Another famous example would be James Wright’s poem “A Blessing” which ends: “Suddenly I realize/That if I stepped out of my body I would break/ Into blossom.” This word “suddenly” is a clue to the effect the satori moment creates. One suddenly is overtaken by a feeling, a conjunction of forces, a lightning strike of transport that breaks open the moment so freshly one can’t ever think the same way again. Please bring and share your satori moment poems if you have already written some, but the real objective will be ultimately to write some fresh poems in this mind and from them to realize in discussion how that moment is taking place.
Writing from the Liminal Space, the Space of Transitions
We will approach examples of poems where actions and ways of being are on the verge of change and we can feel something incredible is about to come forward. Another term for this might be “threshold moments”. In Liminal Space nothing is certain. The word liminal comes from the Latin root, limen, which actually means threshold. It is the crossing over space where you have left something behind but are not fully into the next place. It is a transition space with many possibilities that could be brought to fruition. Dream and the floating in and out of sleep in dreams gives one the feel of this space, or that early morning waking when one is still between sleep and waking. Sylvia Plath was said to have written many of her poems in this early morning space that edges into daybreak. But we don’t have to wait until daybreak to work in this fruitful space which enjoys an other than linear way of moving, is more swirling, intuitive and confrontational, questioning and willing to be lost. Writing in Liminal Space we think of the poem as a kind of cocoon, a chrysalis where we make use of the half known or observed to: question the very core of our beliefs, practices and identities. To surrender within the confines of the poem in order to make use of our purposeful lost-ness. We will try to enter such a space and write from it in the session.
Tess Gallagher’s eleventh volume of poetry, Is, Is Not, was published May 2019 by Graywolf Press. Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems, also from Graywolf, is the most comprehensive offering of her poems to date. Other poetry includes Dear Ghosts, Moon Crossing Bridge, and Amplitude. Gallagher’s The Man from Kinvara: Selected Stories was published fall 2009. Barnacle Soup—Stories from the West of Ireland, a collaboration with the late Sligo storyteller Josie Gray, is available in the US from Carnegie Mellon. Her book of essays: A Concert of Tenses, has long been used to teach what is important to the writing of poetry and available from The University of Michigan Press.Her stories were recently sold for work into episodes for film. During her friendship with director Alejandro Inarritu, Gallagher encouraged his work with Raymond Carver’s poem and story in the Oscar winning film Birdman. She spends time in a cottage on Lough Arrow in Co. Sligo in the West of Ireland where many of her new poems are set, and also lives and writes in her hometown of Port Angeles, Washington.
Shin Yu Pai | Afternoon Poetry Workshop
In this generative 90-minute workshop on writing about the visual arts, we’ll talk about the role of the viewer in entering into the experience of a specific kind of participatory art that requires the engagement of its audience. Whether executing the directives laid out in a Yoko Ono instruction piece, staying overnight in rural New Mexico to see lightning strike in Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field, or turning your back to the sea to fully experience Sam Hamill and Richard Turner’s Memory’s Vault – the viewer plays an active role in their understanding of the work of art. One that goes beyond seeing. We’ll explore the ekphrastic strategy of participation in a process, while bringing your own personal perspectives to writing about that experience. Our reading list may include poems from Carol Moldaw, myself, and others.
Shin Yu Pai is a poet, essayist and visual artist. She is the author of several books of poetry, including Virga (Empty Bowl, 2021), ENSŌ (Entre Ríos Books, 2020), Sightings: Selected Works (2000-2005) (1913 Press, 2007), AUX ARCS (La Alameda, 2013), Adamantine (White Pine, 2010), and Equivalence (La Alameda, 2003). She served as the fourth poet laureate of the city of Redmond from 2015 to 2017 and has been an artist in residence for the Seattle Art Museum, Town Hall Seattle, and Pacific Science Center. In 2014, she was nominated for a Stranger Genius Award in Literature. She is a three-time fellow of MacDowell and has also been in residence at Taipei Artist Village, Soul Mountain, The Ragdale Foundation, and The National Park Service. Her visual work has been shown at The Dallas Museum of Art, The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Three Arts Club of Chicago, and The Museum of American Jazz. Shin Yu’s poetry films have screened at the Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin and the Northwest Film Forum. She lives and works on the unceded ancestral lands of the Duwamish. For more info, visit http://shinyupai.com.
Dawn Pichón Barron | Afternoon Poetry Workshop
Worldview & Witnessing Though Poetry
Poems of witness are often thought of as poems which document atrocities and social injustices. Poet Bruce Weigel says, “Witnessing isn’t just looking at something, witnessing is seeing something and bringing it into your body and mind and heart and soul.” As modern day human beings, we witness a myriad of social injustices and atrocities upon ourselves and others. There is an urgency to give voice to the ongoing and systematic oppression of marginalized people. What can a poet do? Sometimes the poet may not be someone who has personally experienced such repression, yet we live in a country, and a world, in which we all are connected by the consequences of political actions. Students will explore their personal worldviews and how they intersect and impact their creative process, specifically as related to crafting poetry of witness. There is a space within poetry of witness for all poets who feel that call to this work; any poet can be a witness, as we will investigate in this workshop by close reading and discussing a group of contemporary poets who have refined and refreshed the genre, thereby continually providing examples of what it means to be a credible observer, an informed witness. This afternoon workshop will require pre-reading and will focus on guided seminar-style discussion of the elements and possibilities of writing poems of witness. Students can expect to leave the workshop with an understanding of poetry of witness and a list of topics to use when writing poems of witness.
Indigenous Futurisms & Speculative Fiction
An inclusive workshop designed to explore personal identities, collective memory, and worldviews through reading and analyzing Indigenous speculative fiction as a tool for expanding one’s understanding of the cosmos. Indigenous scholar, Grace L. Dillon, wrote that Indigenous Futurisms “involves discovering how personally one is affected by colonization, discarding the emotional and psychological baggage carried from its impact, and recovering ancestral traditions in order to adapt in our post-Native apocalypse world.”
Writers are often motivated to create stories by questions such as what if…why is…how does…; these are the same questions that seed the fertile ground of Indigenous Futurisms and will guide us during the writing portion of this workshop. Students will draft a short creative speculative fiction piece based on their own worldview, cultural identities, and epistemology.
Poems of Witness
In this afternoon workshop, students will be introduced to writing poems of witness and identifying their personal impetus to creating such works. We will begin with a brief discussion of what poetry of witness is, and is not, following Carolyn Forché, who coined the term and stated in her essay, “Reading the Living Archives: The Witness of Literary Art: To hell and back, with poetry”:
In the poetry of witness, the poem makes present to us the experience of the other, the poem is the experience, rather than a symbolic representation. When we read the poem as witness, we are marked by it and become ourselves witnesses to what it has made present before us. Language incises the page, wounding it with testimonial presence, and the reader is marked by encounter with that presence. Witness begets witness. The text we read becomes a living archive.
We will explore the elements and bigger picture of research, integrity of witnessing, authenticity of voice, and purpose when writing poems of witness by looking at a couple examples before students write, write, write! The process during the writing part of this afternoon workshop will include mind-mapping chosen events and topics, drafting the poems, and sharing (voluntary) our work. This workshop will be primarily generative, focusing on drafting two poems of witness.
Dawn Pichón Barron is the Academic Director of the Native Pathways Program and Creative Writing Faculty at the Evergreen State College. Born in Southern California, raised in rural Spokane, she is currently a doctoral candidate (Indigenous Development & Advancement) at Te Whare Wananga O Awanuiarangi–research focused on Identity Politics and Indigeneity in Institutions of Higher Learning. She founded and curated the Gray Skies Reading Series 2009-2019. Her chapbook, ESCAPE GIRL BLUES, was published by Finishing Line Press, 2018. Other work can be found at Moss, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Washington 129 Poetry Anthology, Yellow Medicine Review, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. She lives with her wingman and Chihuahuas at the southern tip of the Salish Sea.
Sam Ligon | Afternoon Fiction Workshop
Short Fiction And The Inverted Time Telescope
In an interview with Willow Springs, Stuart Dybek said that “fiction is a temporal art. Its main subject is time. Its great power is chronology because chronology has an inescapable way of translating into cause and effect. It’s deceptive and illusory, but that’s the power of linear narrative…. But linear narration is only one way to perceive reality.” And inverting or subverting linear narration might be another way to perceive reality. Writers such as Alice Munro, Toni Morrison, Juan Rulfo, Tobias Wolff, and many others play with chronology in their fiction, sometimes finding and revealing the heart of a story in a moment brought to life in the protagonist’s past, ending with that past moment even, unhinging the story from forward moving chronological narration. In this class we’ll read and discuss two stories that establish a present from which action springboards into the past, never to return to the present, Dybek’s “Pet Milk,” and Wolff’s “Bullet in the Brain.”
First Person Narrative Distortion: When Clarity Emerges From Fog
To a certain degree all first person narrators are unreliable. How well, how deeply can anyone know him or herself? As readers, we take pleasure in seeing around narrators, understanding them in ways they don’t understand themselves. Sometimes a narrator is limited by an inability to see or know someone else. The narrator in James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues sees himself and the world clearly, but has a limited view of his brother, the story driven by the narrator trying to understand his brother and his world, both men being revealed as a result of this struggle. In other stories, confusion, delusion, and distortion directly shape narrator and narrative. Mersault in The Stranger can’t remember if his mother died today or yesterday. The brothers in The Sound and the Fury are all unreliable, with Benji’s cognitive limitations creating the greatest distortion, the ground beginning to move on page one, creating a beautiful swirl of confusion and gradual understanding for the reader. In this class we’ll read and discuss two stories shaped by distortion, “Out on Bail,” by Denis Johnson, and “Vaya Con Huevos,” by Robert Lopez, both of which reveal character and meaning through a kind of narrative fog.
A Close Reading Of Alice Munro’s “Runaway”
In Alice Munro’s “Runaway,” Mrs. Jamieson writes to Carla that “when two human beings divided by hostility are both, at the same time, mystified—no, frightened—by the same apparition, there is a bond that springs up between them, and they find themselves united in the most unexpected way. United in their humanity.” Mrs. Jamieson doesn’t realize that Carla is soon going to discover an erosion of humanity in the form of “little dirty bones in the grass. The skull with perhaps some shreds of bloodied skin clinging to it.” In our close reading of this narrative of control and escape, we’ll approach a finished story as writers, examining craft and technique, considering choices the writer made and how those choices served to shape, limit, and inform the writing. We’ll read as practitioners trying to understand how this story was put together, and, by extension, how fiction is or might be made. You’ll need to read “Runaway” before class (copies of which will be available) and be prepared for discussion.
Samuel Ligon’s recent serial novel—Miller Cane: A True & Exact History—appeared 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, illustrated by Stephen Knezovich, and Safe in Heaven Dead, Ligon is also co-editor, with Kate Lebo, of Pie & Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter & Booze. His short fiction has appeared in Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, and The Quarterly, among many other places. He teaches at Eastern Washington University in Spokane, and serves as EWU’s Faculty Legislative Liaison in Olympia. He is the former Artistic Director of the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, the greatest writing conference of all time.
Elizabeth Colen | Afternoon All Genres Workshop
There’s no such thing as writer’s block: Generating Prose Through Juxtaposition
The world is full of subject matter. Our senses take in millions of bits of information per second, and without even trying we read thousands of words every day. In this class you will learn one technique for generating work so you never have to sit cold in front of the blank page again. We will reach outside our own personal narrative, incorporating unlike and unexpected elements in order to produce new work. This generative workshop is appropriate for writers at all levels, working within, between, or across any genre. In these 90 minutes, you will write something you never would have otherwise written.
Our stories are Not (Only) Our Own
What does it mean to exist at a given moment in time? In this workshop, we will briefly discuss the emerging genres of autotheory and autoethnography, which exist in the intersection between the self and the outside world, begin to examine our place in the world through our connections to our own cultural and social contexts. How we are connected to and implicated in the history of the world and our contemporary moment, the history and contemporary moment of our country, our town, our various identities and families. This generative workshop is appropriate for writers at all levels, working within, between, or across any genre.
Avoiding the Gulf: The Power of the List in an Complicated World
Bucket lists, playlists, A-lists, wish lists, laundry lists, to-do lists, grocery lists, inventories, lists of books to read, lists of shows to watch, top ten lists of all kinds. “Lists are a form of power,” “Lists simplify, clarify, edify,” “I love the way a list makes a big hodgepodge of things simmer down and behave,” “Bare lists of words are found suggestive to an imaginative mind,” “A list is just a scaffolding for a story,” “The list is an absolute good. The list is life. All round its cramped margins lies the gulf.” Wallace Stevens’s poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” Carmen Maria Machado’s short story “Inventory,” Wayne Koestenbaum’s essay “My 1980s,” Sei Shonogan’s 11th century memoir The Pillow Book, Christopher Smart’s 18thcentury ode “My Cat Jeoffry.” People use lists to organize lives. Writers use lists to organize works. In this workshop we’ll look at a few examples of writers who have used lists as a way to structure their work and we will try out a list poem, essay, or story of our own. This generative workshop is appropriate for writers at all levels, working within, between, or across any genre.
Queer artist / writer / editor Elizabeth (EJ) Colen’s books include What Weaponry, a novel in prose poems, poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Lambda Literary Award and Audre Lorde Award finalist) and Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies, flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake, book-length lyric essay The Green Condition, and fiction collaboration True Ash. She earned a BA from Georgia State University and an MFA from the University of Washington, where she was the recipient of the Nelson Bentley and Frederick Ingham Fellowships. Her cross-genre work has appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, Spork Press, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Packingtown Review, andThe Normal School, among other places, and been anthologized in The &NOW Awards: Best Innovative Writing, They Said Anthology of Collaborative Work, Devouring the Green: Poetics in an Era of Catastrophic Change, and Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing up with the AIDS Crisis. Nonfiction editor at Tupelo Press and freelance editor/manuscript consultant, she is a member of the KAFQA queer arts collective and teaches at Western Washington University.
Wendy Call | Afternoon All Genres Workshop
You Are Here Create a Sense of Place on the Page
When your writing has a “sense of place,” what exactly does it have? We will trace the concept of “sense of place” back several centuries, drawing on the ideas of anthropologists, architects, geologists, Native scholars, sociologists, and theologians.
Each of these three workshop sessions will include examples from literary masters, a smidge of history and theory, exploration of a particular craft element, and writing exercises completed in situ. Master writers / storytellers whose work will inspire us include Camille Dungy, Roger Fernandes, Sam Hamill, Zora Neale Hurston, Gary Copeland Lilley, and Luis Alberto Urrea.
Over three afternoons, we will explore some of Fort Worden’s special places: from buildings, beaches and batteries to aquaria and artworks. Writers working at all levels and in all genres (or between them) are most welcome. Feel free to attend one, two, or all three of the workshops. An extensive resource list and bibliography will be sent to all participants.
You Are Here will explore a different location at Fort Worden each day. Meet at the Schoolhouse steps each afternoon. Come dressed for the weather, ready to walk, write, and sit on the ground.
Sensing Place With stories of the batteries’ “Cistern Chapel” as our backdrop, we’ll explore the role of sensory detail in creating a sense of place. Writing exercises will harness our corporeal senses to the practice of place-making on the page.
Living in Place Inspired by the beach and the Marine Science Center, we will delve into the deep meaning of landscape: How people (re)create place and how place (re)creates people. We’ll use careful observation to develop dialogue and strong characterization.
Remembering Place We will explore the site-specific poetry-sculpture installation “Memory’s Vault.” Then we’ll explore how place makes memory and memory makes place, using a series of writing prompts to unlock memories of long-ago places.
Wendy Call is co-editor of the craft anthology Telling True Stories; author of the award-awarding No Word for Welcome, and translator of In the Belly of Night and Other Poems, by poet Irma Pineda. A 2015 NEA Literature Fellow and 2018-19 Fulbright Scholar to Colombia, she teaches creative nonfiction in the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program. She has served as writer in residence at more than two dozen institutions, including national parks, universities, a historical archive, and a public hospital. Wendy makes her home in Southeast Seattle (on Duwamish land) and in Oaxaca, Mexico (on Mixtec and Zapotec land).
CMarie Fuhrman | Afternoon All Genres Workshop
Between the River and the Road: Writing from the Edges (memoir and creative nonfiction)
There is the space, some call it the barrow pit, others the flood line, and yet for others, it is merely the ditch. From the highway things are cast our of windows, lost from the backs of pickups, or left for someone else to take away. On the banks of rivers is the detritus of floods, the souls of lives lost, the occasional river booty lost by flipped rafts or overturned canoes.
Metaphorically speaking, these places exist in us as well. From the river and highway of our lives there are things discarded, forgotten, lost, or left—and we may have simply forgotten them or we ponder forever those losses and if they are irretrievable. Though these “things” can be big (in tangible size or psychic weight) we will focus on the small, seemingly unimportant, and write to find the meaning in those things that still occupy those liminal spaces. Through a series of memory jostling activities and short writing prompts, we will focus in on one or two of these “things” and talk about the ways that these discarded, lost, or river taken moments and objects have a life that is uniquely their own!
Throw a Little Poetry at that Prose (creative nonfiction/genre crossing)
There are those stories that read like poems. Whether it is in the music or the metaphor, the figurative language or the form, we cannot help but sense that poetry has something to do with the craft of the story. They are too long to be prose poems, not quite poetic enough to be epic poems.
Many of the techniques of poetry blend easily into the practice of prose. We can add prosody to help carry the reader through, we can leave the constraints of honesty with a trip into metaphorical Oz. We can break the rules of traditional form and explore the space and negative space on the page—and let the prose impulse try on some of the poet’s clothes.
In this class, we will look at lyrical, genre crossing essays, have exercises including everything from “Literary Mad Libs” to “What’s my (Next) Line” to explore the craft techniques of poetry that can work to transform your longform prose. Be prepared with a sample of your writing that you think could benefit from having a little poetry tossed at it or create something entirely new.
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.
Kate Lebo | Afternoon Nonfiction Workshop
Finding Your Form in Nonfiction
Formal constraints aren’t just arbitrary rules that give writing shape and rhythm. They’re restrictions that can set our writing free. When we’re struggling to begin a work of nonfiction, how do we find the right form? How can formal constraints guide us toward the fullest expression of our art? In this workshop, we’ll take a close look at John McPhee’s essay “The Search for Marvin Gardens,” discuss how its form shapes its meaning, and consider how formal constraints give the piece shape and movement. In the generative portion of class, we’ll borrow his form to see how it might help us find our way into new essays.
When we’re beginning an essay, it’s difficult—if not impossible—to imagine that we’ll capture the essence of something as huge and abstract as Death or Reconciliation or Shame or Rebirth or any of the big human things. In this class, we’ll read Zadie Smith’s essay “Joy” to see one way it’s done. We’ll discuss how the form of this piece creates a concrete way to break through huge and saccharine abstractions. Then we’ll each begin our own essay about one of the Big Things.
Kate Lebo’s first collection of essays, The Book of Difficult Fruit, is out now from Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US and from Picador in the UK. Other recent work includes the chapbook Seven Prayers to Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Entre Rios Books) and the anthology Pie & Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter and Booze (Sasquatch Books), which she edited with Samuel Ligon. Her essay about listening through hearing loss, “The Loudproof Room,” originally published in New England Review, was anthologized in Best American Essays. She is also the author of Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour & Butter (Sasquatch Books) and the poetry/ephemera/recipe collection A Commonplace Book of Pie (Chin Music Press). Her poems and essays have appeared in This is the Place: Women Writing About Home, Ghosts of Seattle Past, Best New Poets, Gettysburg Review, Willow Springs, The Inlander, and Poetry Northwest, among other places. A graduate of the University of Washington’s MFA program and Western Washington University, she’s the recipient of a Nelson Bentley Fellowship and a Joan Grayston Poetry Prize, and grants from Spokane Arts and Artist Trust. Through the Arts Heritage Apprenticeship Program from the Washington Center for Cultural Traditions, she is an apprenticed cheesemaker to Lora Lea Misterly of Quillisascut Farm. She lives in Spokane, Washington.