Faculty and Workshops

Join us for the 2014 Writers@Work Conference in Alta, Utah, June 4 – 8, 2014. Learn more about the faculty and what to expect from each workshop. Have you already decided which workshop is best for you? Click here to register online. If you prefer to mail in your registration, download the form here.

Poetry: Ellen Bass

When I Met My Muse: A Poetry Workshop

When I Met My Muse

I glanced at her and took my glasses

off–they were still singing. They buzzed

like a locust on the coffee table and then

ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the

sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and

knew that nails up there took a new grip

on whatever they touched. “I am your own

way of looking at things,” she said. “When

you allow me to live with you, every

glance at the world around you will be

a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

-William Stafford

In this workshop, we will meet our muse, our “own way of looking at things.” Each morning I’ll give a talk on a specific aspect of the craft of poetry, illustrating these concepts with stellar poems from contemporary poets. Possible topics will be discovery, detail and description, metaphor, and how to achieve sentiment without sentimentality. Then we’ll have the rest of the morning to write a draft of a new poem. In the afternoon session, we’ll share our poems and receive feedback. The feedback will be focused in a way that will help you not only make these poems better, but become a stronger poet for the new poems you have yet to write. Ready to register for Ellen’s workshop?

photo credit: Irene Young

Ellen Bass has a new book of poetry, Like a Beggar, from Copper Canyon Press. Her previous books include The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press), named a Notable Book by the San Francisco Chronicle and Mules of Love (BOA Editions) which won the Lambda Literary Award. She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (Doubleday). She currently is teaching in the low residency MFA program at Pacific University and has taught poetry and creative writing in Santa Cruz, CA and at other beautiful locations nationally and internationally.

Learn more about Ellen Bass on her web site.

Read the Writers@Work interview with Ellen Bass.

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Non-Fiction: Robin Hemley

Explore the Possibilities for Literary Non-Fiction

This workshop will focus on literary nonfiction of various kinds: memoir, travel writing, the personal essay, flash nonfiction, immersion writing, and the lyric essay, largely dependent on what participants bring to the table.  We’ll critique participants’ essays/chapters each day, but I’ll also give you various flash nonfiction exercises to keep you busy.  If and when we have time, we’ll share these exercises with the class, but their main purpose is to trigger further writing and exploration in the various forms of nonfiction.   Please submit up to twenty pages of a single work, or fifteen pages of multiple pieces (such as flash pieces), though you should understand that it’s likely the class won’t be able to critique more than one or two of these pieces. Before the workshop begins, familiarize yourself with the flash nonfiction available on the following websites:  Defunctmag.com and brevitymag.com. Ready to register for Robin’s workshop?

Robin Hemley is winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship and many other awards, and the author of eleven books of fiction and nonfiction: most recently the reissued memoir, Nola: A Memoir of Faith, Art and Madness (University of Iowa Press, 2013), Reply All: Stories (Break Away Books, Indiana, 2012) , a reissued novel, The Last Studebaker (Break Away Books, Indiana, 2012), and the craft books Turning Life into FictionA Field Guide for Immersion Writing: Memoir, Journalism, and Travel (University of Georgia Press, 2012).  He is the former director of the Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa, and now directs the Writing Program at Yale-NUS College in Singapore.

Learn more about Robin on his web site.

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Multi-Genre: Michael Martone

The Four C’s: Cut, Compress, Context and Collage

We will study and generate the form of modern composition known as collage. Beginning with its roots in the cut paper and past works and ready-mades of Modernist painters and sculptors, the invention of montage and cutting in film, the spread of syncopation and the jazz idiom, the methods of book and newspaper production, collage, as an organizing structure which resists and/or amplifies linear narration, became an energetic and fruitful form for poets and prose writers of the last century.

The class itself will seek to replicate some principles of collage construction, combining the research and reading of primary and secondary texts, lecture and discussion, and the presentation of a variety of work produced by the participant.

The discussion will be existential and broad and touch on such subjects as notions of the hand-made and machine-made, counterfeiting, found work, gestalt theory, Ives and MTV, military camouflage and its connection to Cubism, xerography and other methods of mechanical reproduction, the remote control, jazz quotation and hip-hop sampling, the card catalogue, encyclopedias, and indexing in general. Ready to register for Michael’s workshop?

Michael Martone’s recent books include Four for a QuarterNot Normal, Illinois: Peculiar Fiction from the FlyoverRacing in Place: Collages, Fragments, Postcards, Ruins, a collection of essays, and Double-wide, his collected early stories.  Michael attended Butler University, graduated from Indiana University, and holds an MA from The Writing Seminars of The Johns Hopkins University. Currently a Professor at the University of Alabama, he has won two Fellowships from the NEA, a grant from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and his stories and essays have been cited in the Pushcart Prize, The Best American Stories and The Best American Essays anthologies.

Learn more about Michael on his web site. Read Writers@Work interview with Michael.

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Fiction: Lawrence Coates

The Story and the Novel — Forms and Variations

This workshop has several goals: First, to help you revise a specific work of short fiction or excerpt from a novel-in-progress; Second, to home your craft through discussion, lecture and exercises; Third, to generate ideas and inspiration for your future work; and Fourth, for those of you currently engaged on a book-length project–or hoping to begin one–to enable you to envision the entire arc of the work from beginning to end. The overall goal is not simply to have you revise and polish a particular piece of work, but rather to have you leave the special atmosphere of the conference ready to continue in the work of writing fiction.

Revision Workshop: Prior to the conference, I’ll ask you to submit a manuscript to me and to the other members via email by May 1.  The manuscript should be twelve pages maximum, double-spaced with one-inch margins in a 12-point font. You’ll be asked to read the work of all workshop members and be prepared to discuss it in a big circle format.

Craft Development: Some of the discussion of craft points will happen naturally in response to workshop manuscripts.  Other points will be explored through group and individual exercises.

Generation of Material for Future Work: Prior to the conference, I will be in contact with several options for generative exercises that you can bring.  We will discuss these, along with other exercises we’ll do as a group.

The Vision of the Whole: Drawing on notions from writers ranging from Aristotle to John Gardner to Natalie Goldberg, we’ll discuss strategies for envisioning a complete book-length work. Ready to register for Lawrence’s workshop?

Lawrence Coates is the author of three novels, most recently The Garden of the World. His first novel, The Blossom Festival, won the Western States Arts Federation Book Award in Fiction.  He is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in fiction, and also was awarded the 2013 Nancy Dasher Award in Creative Writing, given by the College English Association of Ohio.  His short fiction has appeared in The Missouri Review,The Greensboro Review, and elsewhere, and he has won the Barthelme Prize for Short Prose, given by Gulf Coast. After several years at Southern Utah University, Coates is currently a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Bowling Green State University.

Learn more about Lawrence on his web site.

Read Writers@Work interview with Lawrence Coates.

Have you already decided which workshop is best for you? Click here to register online. If you prefer to mail in your registration, download the form here.

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