September 13-16, 2018
Lexington, Kentucky

Workshop Descriptions

Enrollment in workshops will begin when online registration opens on May 1, 2018. Workshops are available on a first-come, first-served basis, limited to 15 participants each, meeting once on Friday and again on Saturday (Sept. 14-15, 2018) for up to 2 hours and 15 minutes each day. There is a limit of one workshop per $200 registrant, and all other sessions not labeled "workshop" are open to all registrants (craft talks, seminars, readings, panel discussions). There will also be craft talks open to all registrants, tba. For further help in deciding among workshops, please view the workshop leaders' biographies, and also check the overall Itinerary to see what concurrent craft talks, panels, and readings you would miss during a given workshop. After a workshop is marked “sold out,” you may request placement on a waiting list by emailing

2018 Workshops, taking place Sept. 14-15

1. Tarfia Faizullah--Embrace Me In A Suicide Vest. What does it mean to be socially engaged artists in this particular moment? How do we write poems that are aware, craft-conscious, but not didactic? We'll take a look at and write our own poems that render and interrogate vulnerability and violence. Our discussion will include non-Western forms and poets who have been exiled.

2. Angela Palm--workshop in memoir, desription to come

3. Sherry Thomas--workshop in fiction, description to come

workshops 4, 5, and 6 tba


2017 Workshops

1. Natalie Diaz—Mining the Deep: Discovering Our Emotional Images. [Same workshop that was cancelled due to illness in 2016.] This generative workshop will explore our notion of image—image is more than a thing you can see. Images are the vessels of story, history, mythology, action, and emotion, among other things. Using previous knowledge of our images of obsession, we will do a series of exercises to help discover and mine our new, emotional images. To paraphrase painter Francis Bacon, we will return the image to our nervous systems more violently—meaning, we will build images that make us and our readers feel.

2. Camille Dungy—Nature Poetry: the Scary and the Beautiful. It would be nice to write a pretty poem about how much you loved the peonies in your grandmother's garden or how at home you felt that time you climbed a mountain out west. But, when you sit down to write that particular poem, do you find yourself  overwhelmed by the realities of radical climate change, colony collapse disorder, increasing seismic activities in middle America, mountain top removal, or the encroachment of kudzu on the southern landscape? Do you think about historical violations of the land you love, or do you worry about the viability of that landscape in the future? Are you having trouble writing about the natural world because you don't know how to balance the scary with the beautiful? If you answer yes to any of those questions, this generative workshop is for you!

3. Jessica Handler—More than Me in Memoir. A well-written memoir tells your story, but in order to capture your reader’s heart and imagination, the very best memoirs place the author’s personal story within the beauty and tragedy of the larger world. In this workshop, you will learn ways to develop your memoir so that it resonates not only with you and yours, but with readers everywhere. Open to writers of all levels.

4. Martyna Majok—Playwriting Intensive. How do you create a character with enough complexity and appetite to drive an entire play? How do you engage with the unique aspects of theater—its liveness, its relationship to time and space—to create a three-dimensional story onstage? How is a play more like music than a novel? This workshop gives you tools for writing stories for the stage, whether you have never written a play or are seeking new perspectives on your craft.

5. Elena Passarello—The Old Collage Try. A collage essay uses vivid images and quick cuts to tell stories in artfully arranged fragments, rather than in one specific narrative line. Inspired by visual art and film, collage storytelling is an inspiring way to supercharge your writing. Bring your notebooks to this very hands-on, get-out-of-your-chairs workshop, which outlines the basics of reading, responding to, and-–most importantly-–writing your own prose collages. 

6. Claire Vaye Watkins—Los Fridos Art Party: workshop in fiction. This is an experimental interdisciplinary creative writing workshop with an emphasis on process and play. This purely generative workshop is ideal for fiction writers who are game to challenge not only their writing process but the very concept of the “writing process.” Through various exercises, experiments and maybe even collaborative or performative projects, we'll try new approaches to storytelling, many of them borrowed from our comrades in poetry, art, and music. Suggested reading: The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-portrait (Introduction by Carlos Fuentes).

7. Kayla Rae Whitaker—Dialogue: Workshop in Fiction. When well-executed, dialogue can serve as your story’s best voice, as well as a tool with which to accelerate plot, provide tone, and promote a sense of place. In this workshop, we will fine-tune our sense of the spoken in order to generate character voice and story trajectory with new awareness and enthusiasm. We’ll engage in exercises and examine works that render dialogue in a way that is dynamic, readable, and true. We will also explore methods of balancing conversation with exposition to ensure our story’s dialogue provides support, and potential for depth, as opposed to noise.

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