Workshop Descriptions

Workshop Descriptions

Workshop classes will be held Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri 9-12. 

Politics and Prose: Tackling Social Justice Issues Through Fiction (Fiction)

Faculty: Jennifer DeLeon and Adam Stumacher

In a time of political upheaval, amidst a media landscape saturated with tweets and news feeds, deeply imagined narratives of individual lives are more important than ever. In this course, we will explore the craft considerations in creating fiction that gives a human face to charged political issues such as conflict and diaspora. How do writers depict the realities of place and time while maintaining allegiance to the desires and complexities of individual lives? How do we convey strongly held beliefs without becoming didactic and boring? We will analyze excerpts from authors ranging from Anton Chekhov to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sandra Cisneros to Viet Thanh Nguyen, reading as writers and isolating techniques for use in our own work, which we will practice through a series of writing exercises. By the end of the course, you will have an enhanced tool box for crafting fiction that engages with issues of social justice. Writers who are working on fiction about social issues are encouraged to bring in their work with opportunity for questions and discussion.

Ekphrasis as Praise, Elegy, and Resistance (Poetry)

Faculty: Laren McClung

This poetry workshop will approach writing as ekphrasis--through encounters with objects, works of art, monuments, music, news images, and heirlooms as portals through which we will confront our personal, cultural, and historical pasts. The word ekphrasis comes from the Greek “ek” (out) and “phrásis” (speak). How do artifacts become portals that transport us across time and self? How through confronting them can we out-speak what has been silenced, or name what has gone unnamed? We will explore various forms, prompts, and methods of writing to generate a body of new poems, and we will workshop these works in progress and perhaps other unfinished work you may wish to include.

Barbaric Yawp: A Poetry Workshop (Poetry)

Faculty: Martin Espada

This is a generative workshop.  Participants generate new work based on the distribution and discussion of poems by Walt Whitman, Pablo Neruda, Carl Sandburg, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Claribel Alegría, Julia de Burgos, Marilyn Nelson, Ernesto Cardenal, Jack Agüeros, Patricia Smith, Lucille Clifton and Grace Paley, among others. We will write poems of unheeded prophecy, speak in the voices of the damned and the despised, wander in the company of our ancestors, and curse our enemies (real or imagined).  Workshop participants write on the spot, then share their work, reading aloud to the group (for thunderous applause only). The objective is the creation of a new poem every day, channeling the “barbaric yawp” within.

21st Century Verse:  The Art of Caribbean Poets (Poetry)

Faculty: Danielle Legros Georges

This class will focus on the work of selected Caribbean poets writing today. We’ll examine how these writers have addressed colonial legacies and revised imperialist texts, analyzed race, engaged in creolization, examined notions of diaspora and the Americas, and articulated national and Caribbean spaces and subjectivities. Their poems—in their formal strategies and fields of focus—will serve as models for the writing we will engage in ourselves.  This workshop is meant as a generative one, one meant to provoke, challenge and inspire us into discussions and ultimately poems.

Start to Finish and Wrestling Demons En Route (Non-Fiction)

Faculty: Lady Borton

"Start to Finish and Wrestling Demons En Route" will be an intense, concentrated workshop with brief writing exercises in class but no time wasted reading those exercises aloud. Through examination of participants' manuscripts, we will probe techniques for tackling the evasive unknowns in an initial vision, for generating material, then for structuring that material. We will also explore how to edit our own work and how to critique others' manuscripts. Lady will meet individually with workshop participants during the week, allowing a chance for participants to experiment with revisions and then immediately to receive input on those revisions.