Workshop Descriptions

Making Poems

The main goal of this workshop is to generate new poems. Writing exercises (of the formal variety) will be provided, and students will be expected to share and discuss their writing with a group of peers. Students will also have ample opportunity to discuss their work and questions of craft with the instructor. While we will primarily concentrate on our own writing—on being great poets—we will also attempt to be great audiences too; each week we will read several poems by modern and contemporary American poets, consider how those poets approach the craft, and use their work as a model for making our own poems.

Instructor: Will Schutt

Writing Your Life: Creative Nonfiction

Joan Didion wrote “you get the sense that it’s possible simply to go through life noticing things and writing them down and that this is OK, it’s worth doing. That the seemingly insignificant things that most of us spend our days noticing are really significant, have meaning, and tell us something.” It is from this understanding that the workshop will approach creative nonfiction. Students will read the writing of Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace, Roxane Gay, David Shields, Annie Dillard, and many others. We will produce our own personal narratives, and train ourselves to keep a writers’ notebook, from which we will develop more structured drafts (we will write three longer pieces). Students will discover their own writing as well as each other’s while fostering an online community centered on careful observation, critical encouragement, and crafting compelling stories.

Required reading materials:
The Next American Essay, edited by John D’Agata
Selected readings online

Instructor: Luke Johnson

Forays in Storytelling: Elements of Short Fiction

From early cave paintings to the Ancient Greeks to Dickens to Twitter, storytelling has been essential to human experience. But what makes a good story? Forays in Storytelling will be part reading, part writing, and all investigation. Beginning with the fundamentals of storytelling, students will write and discuss original short fiction. Students will be challenged to write beyond their self-imposed boundaries, to venture into new territory. They will be encouraged to take risks and rethink the “established rules” of fiction. This workshop is open to writers and storytellers of all ability levels.

Required reading materials:
Narrative Design by Madison Smartt Bell
Selected readings online

Instructor: Michael Overa