September 15-16, 2017
Lexington, Kentucky

Workshop Descriptions

Enrollment in workshops will begin when online registration opens on May 1, 2017. Workshops are available on a first-come, first-served basis, limited to 15 participants each, meeting once on Friday and again on Saturday 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 kentuckywomenwriters@gmail.com.

2017 Workshops

Note: these 7 teachers and genres are confirmed, though some descriptions are still to come.

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—workshop in nature poetry, description to come

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—nonfiction workshop, description to come

6. Claire Vaye Watkins—workshop in fiction, description to come

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.

2016 Workshops--fyi

1. Barrie Jean Borich - Memoir Time: workshop in creative nonfiction. SOLD OUT. All memoir is about time. What’s the difference between writing about the past and the present? What is the “now” and the “then” of our nonfiction stories? Do our memories, and therefore our memoirs, change over time? How do we both summarize lifetimes and recreate spectacular hours? This generative workshop will examine how memoirists manage time, manipulate time, and use time as a formal device in their memoirs and narrative essays. Why are so many memoirs nonlinear, what is the impact of compressing, extending, or fragmenting time on the page, and why do memoirists summarize years while lingering for pages over just a few moments of experience? Students will examine and discuss a wide array of examples and try out various narrative time management strategies and structures. Participants will depart with new maneuvers and fresh pages. 

2. Natalie Diaz - Mining the Deep: Discovering Our Emotional Images. SOLD OUT. 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

3. Danielle Dutton - Stories in Place. This will be a generative workshop designed to get you started on several new projects. Drawing examples from all around us, from maps to architecture to our own memories, we’ll look at many ways that "place"—the particularities of a space—might create meaning and form in our stories. Readings will include stories/snippets from Rebecca Solnit, Georges Perec, Melinda Moustakis, and others. We’ll be primarily focused on fiction, but nonfiction writers are also welcome to use the readings and exercises toward their own ends.

4. Lisa Russ Spaar - "It’s All About That Bass”:  Creating Depth & Getting Beyond Surfaces, Knee-Jerk Habits, and Mono-Registers in Poems. All serious writers run the risk of falling into certain familiar, “successful” sonic, syntactic, thematic, figurative, rhythmic, and other gestures that, if we’re not careful, can keep us from fully developing our poems or that allow us to shut our poems down too soon. How can we recognize these habits and avoid offering just the “melody,” the plot line, the treble or surface of a poem? This workshop will be generative, encouraging its participants to explore and deepen into their obsessions (what Emily Dickinson would call their “Flood subjects”) even as they experiment beyond modes, habits, and stylistic gestures that may have become knee-jerk or comfortable.  To the first class meeting, students should bring 16 copies of a poem BY SOMEONE ELSE that they feel works on ALL registers successfully (story, image, music, structure). These poems can range from Keats’s “Ode to Melancholy” to Paisley Rekdal’s “Why Some Girls Love Horses.”  Students should also bring 16 copies of a poem of their own that the student feels needs work because it is not adequately plumbing registers that might deepen and illuminate its complexity, its stereoscopy, and what is at stake in the text. Over the course of two sessions, we will consider what it means to risk making forays outside of our comfort zone as poets.  In addition to revising one problem poem, each student will write at least one new poem during the course of the class.

5. Dana Spiotta - Starting a Novel: a generative workshop in fiction for writers at all levels. SOLD OUT. We'll look at several novel openings and analyze them. Then each student will write her own opening in 2-3 pages. We will read these and start to imagine the first chapter and the potential book that could emerge from a powerful opening. Depending on time available, we might then look what happens after the first chapter in a few famous novels, and see if we can make that leap in what we have generated.

6. Bianca Spriggs - Dreamscapes: Surreal Imagery for Creating Memorable Poems. In this generative workshop we’ll create fresh, startling, memorable images through exploring surrealism, a subgenre of speculative poetry. We will read and analyze classic and contemporary poems by Kim Addonizio, Kathleen Driskell, Rachel McKibbens, and Cecilia Woloch that incorporate surreal imagery and then work to craft resounding images of our own. Creating lasting images and sensory-oriented experiences will ensure that readers think about your work long after they've read it.

7. Crystal Wilkinson - Belly & Heart: Writing Sacred Stories. SOLD OUT. In this fiction workshop we will generate new material by mining stories that are lying at the bottom of our bellies and on the top of our hearts. Everyone has within them an automatic piece of fiction. What do we tell? What do we keep to ourselves? We’ll write toward a balance of the sacred and the memorable. Each participant will leave this workshop with the impression of a new story—one that is deeply felt—ready to be crafted. Both days will include some generative and some craft work.