Workshop Descriptions

Enrollment in workshops will begin when online registration opens on April 2, 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 2 hours and 15 minutes each day. There is a limit of one workshop per $200 registrant. For further help in deciding among workshops, please view the workshop leaders' biographies. 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 sold out, you may request placement on a waiting list by emailing

2018 Workshops, Sept. 14-15

1. Gabrielle Calvocoressi--(poetry) Who Are You Telling? And Why? In this class we will delve into stories we think we know and those we think we've forgotten (but feel in the deepest parts of us) as a way of investigating how memory and voice can work in our poems. We'll experiment with sound recording, interviews, and formal variations to make poems that are worlds in themselves and gateways to somewhere even deeper.

2. Tarfia Faizullah--(poetry) 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.

3. Emily Fridlund--(fiction).  SOLD OUT. The Queen Died Too. What makes for a compelling plot? How do you bring a story’s elements together in a moving way? E. M. Forster famously defined plot in terms of causality: “‘The king died and then the queen died’ is a story. ‘The king died, and then the queen died of grief’ is a plot.” Forster’s classic definition, however, fails to account for the all the subtler narrative structures that allow a story to accumulate meaning through other means: simultaneity, associations, layers, and silence. In this two-day workshop, we will consider plotting in the broadest of terms, playing with a variety of models for generating momentum and meaning in our work. We will experiment with a plurality of approaches to plotting and return to our own fiction with fresh ideas for shaping our raw stories.

4. Angela Palm--(memoir) Memory, Mapping, and Memoir. 2 SLOTS REMAIN AS OF 8-21-17. This workshop is a kind of excavation of our most poignant images of our homelands. It explores the nature of episodic memory and demonstrates how research can augment or expand memory. We’ll mine experiences rooted strongly in their location in place and time—layering what we remember through generative prompts. Writers will practice building upon and deepening fleeting snapshots of experience in pursuit of greater meaning.

5. Joni Tevis--(essay) Nonfiction and the Archaeology of Memory: Discovering Your Inner Indiana Jones. This workshop will explore the art and craft of creative nonfiction. We will apprentice ourselves to published work as well as to our own lives, exploring the building blocks of nonfiction.  Armed with this knowledge, we will apply new techniques to our own essays, which may take the form of memoirs, personal essays, lyric essays, natural history, or journalism. 

Our writing exercises will help us engage in the work and play of writing.  Among other exercises, we’ll try our hands at becoming “archaeologists of memory,” using fragments of history—postcards, photographs, and other ephemera—as triggering points for our own work.  As we workshop and revise together, we will practice the habit of reading as writers, writing voraciously, being “one on whom nothing is lost,” and becoming wise and generous editors of our own and others’ work.

6. Sherry Thomas--(fiction) Chemistry, Subtext, and World-building: How to create the sizzle, the nuance, and the immersiveness that will keep your readers glued to the page. This two-day, two-session generative workshop breaks down several of the X-factors of propulsive storytelling. We will: 1) illustrate chemistry in the context of both story development and character arc and learn the specifics of creating and deepening chemistry; 2) examine how subtext creates layered narratives and nuanced interactions between characters; and 3) practice intriguing world-building, whether your characters wear corsets and ride in carriages, or wave wands and battle dragons.

Publishing Seminars with Jane Friedman

The Art & Business of Author Platform
Most working writers have at least one thing in common: they seek to grow the readership for their work. But what leads to readership growth? And what can you do, especially without a publisher’s help (or a large bankroll), to encourage that growth? Sometimes this is called “platform development.” Author platform is one of the most difficult concepts to explain in publishing, partly because everyone defines it a little differently. But by far the easiest explanation of platform is: visibility to your target audience—which translates into an ability to sell your work. Platform building requires consistent, ongoing effort over the course of a career; the work is never really done, and your strategy will evolve over time. We'll discuss how to develop an approach that fits your personality and the unique qualities of your work.


How to Smartly Self-Publish: Navigating the Service Landscape and Positioning Yourself for Success


Over the last decade, the publishing industry has undergone tremendous evolution due to the power of any author to publish and distribute their work at the click of a button. But is this path right for you and your book—and how do you sift through the increasing number of services (and hybrid options) that make a lot of promises, but cost you a lot upfront? This session covers everything you need to know about the self-publishing landscape, in plain English. You'll come away with a clear picture of how the major retailers, distributors and service companies work, and learn the best practices of professional, self-publishing authors.

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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