• sww student 762

    Workshop Descriptions and Details

    Students choose from one of the genre workshops listed below and participate in the same workshop all week. Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction are offered every July; special sections (such as fantasy, young adult, bookmaking, and creating erasure texts) are offered some years. Read workshop descriptions below. Find faculty biographies on Faculty & Guests page.

    July 2018 Workshop Descriptions: 

    Seeing is Believing: Crafting Compelling Literature from Real Life
    Creative Nonfiction with Inara Verzemnieks 

    Before I became an author and a teacher, I worked for thirteen years as a daily newspaper reporter documenting the stories of the people who inhabited the city where I lived.  Again and again, people invited me into their homes and granted me access to their private moments of hope and wonder, fear and vulnerability, loss and transcendence. The things I learned over those years—about witnessing, about realizing how profoundly people respond to the simple act of feeling that they have been seen—form the heart of my sensibilities as a writer and a teacher of creative nonfiction. 

    Whatever your approach to creative nonfiction, this workshop, which will be borrowing from the literary journalist’s toolkit, is designed to spark skills that will help you approach the familiar with new eyes, and help you develop concrete strategies for how to access the kind of imagery and details that help us see—truly see—ourselves and other people on the page.  Through reading and discussion of ways other writers have taken the raw material of everyday life and used it to craft compelling, emotionally resonant portraits of people and places, you will walk away with clear ideas on how to bring these techniques to your own writing process.  In-class writing exercises and assignments will give you the chance to practice bringing together all the strands of what you are learning. And finally, daily workshops, coupled with individual conferences over the course of the week, will give everyone the chance to receive supportive feedback that will leave you feeling inspired to continue on your own. 

    Where once my witnessing was in service to story, now it is in service to my students. I want each of you to feel seen— that your efforts on and off the page are noted with the kind of care and attention that I believe is required whenever I have been fortunate enough to be able to witness the unfolding of someone else’s story.

    Books: Among the Living and the Dead (W.W. Norton) 

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    Making Fiction True: Adding Texture and Meaning
    Fiction with Lesley Nneka Arimah

    In this workshop, we will learn how to add dimension to stories so that they become multifaceted. We will create layers within the narrative so that our characters move through authentic worlds, whether those worlds are realistic or fantastic. Every story has a central question, but around this central question is an entire narrative ecosystem. This workshop will consider how to craft this narrative ecosystem with authenticity and complexity. You will come away from this with tools to better conceptualize your stories so that the crafting begins long before you reach the page.

    Books: What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky (Riverhead Books)

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    Crafting Free Verse: Line, Syntax, and Stanza
    Poetry with Maggie Smith 

    In this generative poetry workshop we will create and share new work, experimenting with a wide variety of subject matter and approaches. We will pay special attention to line, syntax, and stanza, and will consider the choices we make in free-verse poems: How are the elements of the poem working on their own? How do they work with—or against—each other? My expectation is that during the workshop week, we’ll build creative momentum and develop new strategies that will carry participants forward in their own writing practice.

    Books: Good Bones and The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison  (Tupelo Press)

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