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Craft Intensives

Craft Intensives

Summer 2022
Cost:
$75
Online Craft Intensives

We’re offering online classes year round! Taught by some of our favorite writers, these three-hour online classes combine close readings, practical advice, and in-class writing exercises.

If you’d like to be notified about our upcoming online programming, including lectures, multi-week workshops and craft intensives before they’re added to the website, sign up here!

OCTOBER


By Sight: Visual Poetics and Storytelling with Courtney Faye Taylor
Saturday, October 1
10 AM – 1 PM PST
Online
As poets, we use written and spoken language to interpret the world. But what happens when we engage topics that require a different language entirely? How do we alter our manner of storytelling when words alone don’t suffice? In this workshop, we’ll merge found objects with creative writing to explore the unique narratives made possible through visual poetics and storytelling. To do this, we’ll interact with documents, magazines, videos, photographs, clothing, heirlooms, and other objects that induce questions in us. Our interactions will involve cutting, overlaying, erasing, digitizing, writing—any and all actions required to harness the stories that emerge from these objects. By the end of the workshop, each participant will have the beginnings of a new visual narrative or poem.

Note: Participants should bring an array of physical and/or digital found materials to workshop. Participants should also bring tools like scissors, canvas, glue, needle and thread—anything that helps them work with their materials.

Sign-up here!

 


F*%$ing with the Rules of Fiction with Eman Quotah
Sunday, October 9
10 AM – 1 PM PST

Online

“BIGGER THAN ALL THE RULES IS THE STORY.”—Lee K. Abbott 

How do you tell a story? It should be as easy as making a sandwich, as instinctual as breathing. But Anglophone fiction (whether short-form or long-form) has rules. And many of us have a hard time knowing when to follow, bend, break, or ignore them. In this course, writers will define the conventions that matter to them—or don’t—and make their own list of rules. We’ll discuss the conventional and unconventional wisdom regarding fundamentals such as character, setting and place, plot and action, structure, and chronology. We’ll read short excerpts to examine the rule-breaking and following of authors such as Quan Barry, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Toni Morrison, Michael Ondaatje, Marilynne Robinson, and Charles Yu. We’ll talk about how those of us inspired by non-Western and non- European storytelling traditions might approach the rules of Anglophone fiction differently. Through writing exercises, we’ll generate work and experiment with strategically ditching the rules. Writers will leave the course with a deeper understanding of how to put rules in service of the story, and not the other way around. Writers will get the most out of this course if they have some experience with short fiction or a novel in progress.

Sign-up here!

 

The Enemy You Know: Writing Social Media into Fiction with Isle McElroy
Sunday, October 30
9 AM PST – 12PM PST  

Online
Social media is often portrayed as the enemy of writers–it steals our time, it loosens our thoughts, it clips our sentences. However, like any good enemy, we might benefit from bringing it closer, borrowing the very elements that make it so time-consuming in the first place. In this craft intensive, writers will study excerpts from recent fictions that explore how social media might appear in a variety of texts: as character development, defamiliarization, a formal experiment, a gateway to genre, and more. Generative craft exercises will show writers how to employ these same writing strategies in their prose. For better or worse, social media doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, and authors looking to capture the hectic nature of contemporary life can benefit from using elements of social media to texture and intensify their fiction.

Sign-up here! 

 

NOVEMBER

Every Action is a Spell: Finding the Magic in our Stories with Emme Lund
Saturday, November 12
11 AM PST – 2PM PST  

Online
If we could talk to trees, tap into their roots and fungal networks, what would they say? A caterpillar dissolves until it is entirely liquid and then it puts itself back together as a butterfly. A fairy has flitted around the room and landed atop my wrist before zooming out the window. 

In this class, we will learn to develop the skills necessary to see the magic that exists in our world. We’ll do a generative writing exercise. Then, we’ll study a few stories e.g. Kelly Link, Borges, maybe even Gogol. Then we’ll do a spell. Our eyes will be opened to the magic in the (virtual) room, and we will capture it on the page. Part generative writing session, part craft course, part magic spell, this class seeks to undo the ways capitalism and colonialism has closed us off from the magical realm. Bring some tea, a candle, and an open mind.

Sign-up here! 

 

Tension in Fiction with Zeyn Joukhadar
Sunday, November 20
11 AM – 2 PM PST
Online

If a story is perpetual movement, and structure is a means of organizing that movement, then tension is the fuel that gets us where we want to go. In this online craft intensive for writers of both short and long-form fiction, we will talk about controlling the flow of information in our narrative and how this creates pace and contributes to keeping the tension high throughout our work. We will discuss how tension is influenced by an understanding of (and is made possible by) character development, the flow of time, point of view, and the juxtaposition of multiple story threads. We’ll explore the pros and cons of various techniques to enhance and sustain tension, including circularity, symbol, use of B story and supporting characters, as well as nonlinear structures and fragmentation, using generative exercises to help us practice these techniques and explore how to employ them effectively in our own fiction.

Sign-up here! 

 

DECEMBER

It’s Complicated: Writing Rich, Nuanced Relationships in Fiction with Natalia Sylvester
Wednesday, December 8
2 – 5 PM PST
Online

Open to writers of all levels and across all categories of fiction (children, YA, adults) in this class we’ll delve into ways to develop character relationships—from the newly emerging to the deeply rooted, from the central to the peripheral, from the joyous to the estranged. Understanding not only who our characters are, but who they are to one another, can shape how an entire story begins and evolves. Using multi-genre excerpts across age categories, we’ll study glimpses into relationships and explore that of our own characters through generative exercises that embrace playfulness, fearlessness, and honesty. Taking into account power and cultural dynamics across varied lived experiences, we’ll look beyond those closest to our protagonists to more fully understand their sense of self and place amongst the world and people who surround them. Students will leave with written drafts and ways to turn to character relationships when asking the question: what now?

Sign-up here! 

 

PAST

Deepening Character with Lydia Conklin
NOTIFY ME WHEN THIS CLASS IS AVAILABLE AGAIN!
This session will explore ways to deepen character in fiction. We will take a look at a few brief novel excerpts from Jessamine Chan, Katie Kitamura, and Richard Yates, and discuss the ways these writers use propulsive interiority and high emotional stakes to bring characters alive. We will discuss roadblocks in character building and explore some tactics for deepening characters that are hard to access, using the sample texts as blueprints. The session will build to the execution of a developmental writing prompt using characters the participants have previously developed, and we will all share work with the group. Students will leave with a deeper understanding of how to deepen and enrich characters within their short stories and novels.

 

Faculty

Courtney Faye Taylor

Courtney Faye Taylor is a writer and visual artist. She is the author of Concentrate (Graywolf Press, 2022), selected by Rachel Eliza Griffiths as the winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Courtney earned her BA from Agnes Scott College and her MFA from the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program where she received the Hopwood Prize in Poetry. A recipient of the 92Y Discovery Prize and an Academy of American Poets Prize, Courtney’s work can be found in Poetry Magazine, The Nation, Ploughshares, Best New Poets, and elsewhere.

Diana Khoi Nguyen

Poet and multimedia artist Diana Khoi Nguyen is the author of Ghost Of (Omnidawn 2018) and recipient of a 2021 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to winning the 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest, 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and Colorado Book Award, she was also a finalist for the National Book Award and L.A. Times Book Prize. A Kundiman fellow, she is core faculty in the Randolph College Low-Residency MFA and an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. In Spring 2022, she was an artist-in-residence at Brown University.

Eman Quotah

Eman Quotah is the author of the novel Bride of the Sea, which was shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Literature. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Necessary Fiction, Jellyfish Review, The Rumpus, The Markaz Review, ArabLit Quarterly, WitnessGargoyle, and other publications. She lives with her family near Washington, D.C.

Headshot of a brunette person smiling at the camera while wearing a striped blouse.

Emme Lund

Emme Lund is an author living and writing in Portland, Oregon. She has an MFA from Mills College. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Time, The Rumpus, Autostraddle, and many more. In 2019, she was awarded an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship in Fiction. The Boy with a Bird in His Chest is her first novel and has been long listed for the Center of Fiction's First Novel Prize. Visit EmmeLund.net for more information.

A person with shoulder length hair standing in front a bookshelf, looking back at the camera

Isle McElroy

Isle McElroy is a nonbinary writer based in Brooklyn. Their debut novel, The Atmospherians, was named a NY Times Editors' Choice. Their second novel, People Collide, is forthcoming from HarperVia. Other writing appears in The NY Times, NYT Magazine, The Guardian, The Cut, Vulture, GQ, Vogue, The Atlantic, Tin House, and elsewhere.

Julián Delgado Lopera

Julián Delgado Lopera is the author of The New York Times acclaimed novel Fiebre Tropical (Feminist Press 2020), the Winner of the 2021 Ferro Grumley Award and a 2021 Lambda Literary award; a finalist of the 2020 Kirkus Prize in Fiction and the 2021 Aspen Literary Prize. Julián is also the author of Quiéreme (Nomadic Press 2017) and ¡Cuéntamelo! (Aunt Lute 2017) an illustrated bilingual collection of oral histories by LGBT Latinx immigrants which won a 2018 Lambda Literary Award and a 2018 Independent Publisher Book Award. Julián's received fellowships and residencies from Hedgebrook, California Arts Council, San Francisco Arts Commission, Headlands Center for The Arts, Brush Creek Foundation of the Arts, Lambda Literary Foundation, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and The SF Grotto. Their work has appeared in Granta, Teen Vogue, The Kenyon Review, McSweeney's, The Rumpus, The White Review, to name a few. They are the former executive director of RADAR Productions and one of the founders of Drag Queen Story Hour. Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Julián currently resides in San Francisco.

Jonathan Escoffery

Jonathan Escoffery is the author of the debut linked story collection, If I Survive You (MCD/ Farrar, Straus & Giroux, September 6, 2022). He is the recipient of the 2020 Plimpton Prize for Fiction, the 2020 ASME Award for Fiction, and a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Literature fellowship. His writing has appeared in The Paris ReviewAmerican Short Fiction, Electric Literature, Zyzzyva, and AGNI, and has been anthologized in The Best American Magazine Writing 2020 and elsewhere. Jonathan is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and resides in Oakland, CA.

Keeonna Harris

Keeonna Harris is a writer, storyteller, mother of five, and prison abolitionist. She is a Ph.D. Candidate at Arizona State University finishing her dissertation “Everybody Survived but Nobody Survived: Black Feminism, Motherhood, and Mass Incarceration.” Her forthcoming memoir, Mainline Mama draws from her experiences as a Black woman, teen mother, and twenty years of raising children with an incarcerated partner and building community in the borderlands of the prison. An excerpt of her memoir was recently published on Salon.com.  

Lydia Conklin

Lydia Conklin has received a Stegner Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, three Pushcart Prizes, a Creative Writing Fulbright in Poland, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, a Creative Writing Fellowship from Emory University, work-study and tuition scholarships from Bread Loaf, and fellowships from MacDowell, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, Djerassi, the James Merrill House, and elsewhere. Their fiction has appeared in Tin House, American Short Fiction, The Paris Review, One Story, and VQR. They have drawn cartoons for The New Yorker and Narrative Magazine, and graphic fiction for The Believer, Lenny Letter, and the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. Last year they served as the Helen Zell Visiting Professor in Fiction at the University of Michigan and they are currently an Assistant Professor of Fiction at Vanderbilt University. Their story collection, Rainbow Rainbow, was published by Catapult in North America and Scribner in the UK.

Natalia Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester is the award-winning author of several novels for adults and young adults. CHASING THE SUN was named the Best Debut Book of 2014 by Latinidad and EVERYONE KNOWS YOU GO HOME won an International Latino Book Award and the 2018 Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters. Natalia's debut YA novel, RUNNING, was a 2020 Junior Library Guild Selection, and her next novel for young adults, BREATHE AND COUNT BACK FROM TEN, is forthcoming in May 2022 from Clarion Books/HarperCollins. A MALETA FULL OF TREASURES, Natalia's first picture book (illustrated by Juana Medina), will be published by Dial Books in 2024. Natalia's non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times, Bustle, Catapult, Electric Literature, Latina magazine, and McSweeney's Publishing. Her essays have been anthologized in collections such as A MAP IS ONLY ONE STORY and A MEASURE OF BELONGING: WRITERS OF COLOR ON THE NEW AMERICAN SOUTH. Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia came to the US at age four and grew up in Florida and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. She received a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Miami, was a 2021 Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and was formerly a faculty member at the Mile-High MFA program at Regis University.

Porsha Olayiwola

Porsha Olayiwola is a native of Chicago who writes, lives and loves in Boston. Olayiwola is a writer, performer, educator and curator who uses afro-futurism and surrealism to examine historical and current issues in the Black, woman, and queer diasporas. She is an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the founder of the Roxbury Poetry Festival. Olayiwola is Brown University's 2019 Heimark Artist -In -Residence as well as the 2021 Artist-in-Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. She is a 2020 poet laureate fellow with the Academy of American poets. Olayiwola earned her MFA in poetry from Emerson College and is the author of i shimmer sometimes, too. Olayiwola is the current poet laureate for the city of Boston. Her work can be found in or forthcoming from with TriQuarterly Magazine, Black Warrior Review, The Boston Globe, Essence Magazine, Redivider, The Academy of American Poets, Netflix, Wildness Press, The Museum of Fine Arts and elsewhere.

Sasha LaPointe

Sasha taqwšəblu LaPointe is from the Upper Skagit and Nooksack Indian Tribes. Native to the Pacific Northwest she draws inspiration from her coastal heritage as well as her life in the city. She writes with a focus on trauma and resilience, ranging topics from PTSD, sexual violence, the work her great grandmother did for the Lushootseed language revitalization, to loud basement punk shows and what it means to grow up mixed heritage. With obsessions revolving around Twin Peaks, the Seattle music scene, and Coast Salish Salmon Ceremonies, Sasha explores her own truth of indigenous identity in the Coast Salish territory. Sasha holds a double MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in creative nonfiction and poetry. Her memoir Red Paint has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Shelf Awareness and was named “Best new book of the month,” by Time Magazine. Red Paint was featured on Nylon’s list of most anticipated books of 2022 and has received praise from Ms. Magazine, The LA Times, and Bust Magazine. Red Paint is available through Counterpoint Press. Her collection of poetry Rose Quartz is forthcoming from Milkweed in 2023.

Zeyn Joukhadar

Zeyn Joukhadar is the author of the novels The Thirty Names of Night, which won both the Lambda Literary Award and the Stonewall Book Award, and The Map of Salt and Stars, which won the Middle East Book Award and was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards and the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. His work has appeared in the Kink anthology, Salon, The Paris Review, [PANK], and elsewhere, and has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He guest edited Mizna's 2020 Queer + Trans Voices issue and is a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI) as well as a mentor with the Periplus Collective.

Applying

After submitting payment, you will receive an email with registration information.

Online Intensives are held on Zoom and you do not need a paid account to participate. We cap classes at 25 participants.

Classes will be recorded and participants will have access to recordings for one month.

We offer full refunds for class cancellation up until a week before the Intensive. After that date, we do not offer refunds.

Scholarships

We have a very limited number of scholarships available for the Intensives. If you are interested in putting your name in the lottery, please fill out this form. Please fill out a separate form for each class that you would like to attend.