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Craft Intensives

Craft Intensives

Applications open:
August 30, 2021
Applications Are Currently Closed
About

Tin House is proud to announce our latest virtual Craft Intensives Series. A series of 3-hour-long  master classes lead by the incredible Tin House Residents, the Intensives combine close reading, discussion, and in-class writing to offer a potent dose of inspiration and explore what makes writing work when it works. Join us!

Classes

MAKING THINGS STRANGER with Abbey Mei Otis
Sunday, October 11th, 10 am PST
Estrangement is not only a tactic for speculative fiction! We will focus on the core writing tasks of making the familiar strange and the strange familiar. How do you write so that your subject becomes at once utterly new and deeply recognizable? In this class we will examine this question at the micro level, looking at figurative language, imagery and aesthetic. We will explore how a carefully crafted metaphor or a well-honed image brings new horizons of possibility into view. We will scrutinize the tools and choices of craft as portals into the chaotic unknown. We will try to move beyond throwing up our hands and declaring “it feels like we live in science fiction!”, and into a more rigorous understanding of how cultivated strangeness shapes our experience and enlarges our capacity for resilience.

SENSORY ROADMAPS with Tanaïs
Friday, October 16th, 4:00 pm PST
This craft intensive is a visitation into the  sensory details of the everyday that make prose feel electric, embodied and alive. Western Literature often asks writers to show, not tell, but what about senses that ask us to reach deeper, to the hushed corners of experience? We will closely read short excerpts by writers with a keen eye for such descriptions—including Toni Morrison, Carmen Maria Machado, Akwaeke Emezi—to parse the readings for sense artifacts embedded within the text. Students will be asked to record notes of a day’s observations prior to this intensive, beyond the realm of sight, focusing instead on scent, touch, sound, taste. Through the readings, discussion, generative writing from students’ field/home notes, we explore new rhythms of writing, deepening how we, and our characters, live in our bodies, and in our imagined worlds.

NAVIGATING SILENCE: EMBRACING THE UNSAID IN POETICS with Ashia Ajani
Saturday, October 17th, 10 am PST
This craft intensive is designed to maximize our utilization of silence in poetry through studying space and gaps in poems. This course will focus on helping writers navigate silence in a way that adds, not detracts from their writing to create nuance, pause and dramatic swells that engage the reader. The goal of this intensive is to provide students with the tools needed to create and cut lines strategically in order to strengthen their own voice through efficient storytelling and craftsmanship. By studying poets such as David Keplinger, Elizabeth Alexander, and Paul Blackburn (to name a few), we will create poems that explore shifts, tone and repetition in ways that elevate the said by honoring the unsaid.  This is a generative writing workshop, which will also include close readings and discussion. Students will leave the course with written drafts and future prompts/reading lists surrounding the methodology of stillness.

LINGUISTIC ACTIVISM: “EVERYTHING IS IN THE LANGUAGE WE USE” with Carlina Duan
Sunday, October 18th, 10 am PST
This course, which takes its quoted title from Layli Long Soldier, attempts to use etymology and rhetorical form as tools to reclaim language. “It matters what you call a thing,” writes Solmaz Sharif in her book Look. In this course, we will examine the power of naming in cultural rhetoric and discourse. As poets, how can words serve as “criticism of language,” as Adrienne Rich writes? How can we forge new ways of thinking through language, or reclaim ways of being/speaking? We will look at how linguistic innovation and experimentation can lead to new formal modes of writing, and of world-making. By studying poets such as Sharif, Layli Long Soldier, and Cathy Park Hong (to name a few), we will create poems that challenge or expand our uses of language and interrogate form in fresh ways. This is a generative writing workshop, which will also include close readings and discussion. Participants will leave the space with written drafts and future prompts/reading lists surrounding linguistic activism.

EXCAVATING THE POEM with Faylita Hicks
Monday, October 19th, 4 pm PST
This craft intensive will posit several anthropological methods that writers can use to discover or create complexity and depth in a poem or collection. Poetry, as a form of communication and human expression, is intrinsically imbued with meaning. Though a poem or collection’s purpose is not always explicitly defined by the author, readers and critics can dig into any poem to discover something “true” about humanity by simply integrating the same investigative techniques used by scientists into their regular writing practice. With these techniques, readers can gain a better understanding of a poem or collection’s place in society and contemporary literature; and writers can re-invigorate their revision practices, developing even more engaging and multi-layered work. Participants will leave this intensive with a fluid set of strategies they can use for developing future projects.

PERMISSION TO BE MESSY: A GENERATIVE SHORT STORY WORKSHOP with Kirin Khan
Saturday, October 24th, 10 am PST
“The only job of the first draft is to exist” Douglas Kearney “Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something” – Jake the Dog, Adventure Time
This course is for writers and artists who are not feeling particularly inspired these days, those who are overwhelmed to the point of shutting down creatively, and those whose attention to detail and drive for perfection have turned against them. Because we need to give ourselves permission to make “bad art” in order to be able to create anything at all, the goal of this workshop is to create a messy, ugly, lumpy piece of writing – aka a first draft.  We will generate lists, respond to images, and look to poems, songs, and excerpts for inspiration, as we take a no-holds-barred, whatever-it-takes approach to generating new work. We will use change (plot, form, POV) to generate excitement, delight, and surprise as we move from one beat in the story to the next, using or deviating from the traditional narrative arc as we see fit. Because we are actively resisting judgement, and actively pursuing “bad” writing, we will not critique one another’s work, nor will anyone be forced to read aloud. Academic-speak will be minimal – we’re here to get our hands muddy and our noses bloody. Let’s make some shit up. Participants will leave the course with a first draft of a story, as well as raw building material for new work, and transformation points to shake up and expand current works in progress. Beginners, people who don’t call themselves writers, storytellers and artists of all forms, welcome.

UNRULY POETICS: NON-CONFORMITY AS FORM with Jari Bradley
Monday, October 26, 4 pm PST
In contemporary poetics today, many of the poets writing in the now are concerned with poetry from two distinct standpoints in regards to FORM. The craft elements of FORM such as typography, structure, and internal mechanisms of the poem via syntax, diction, rhyme, and line break. The other aspect of FORM is from a bodily realm such as the subject position of often ostracized and marginalized bodies, particularly that of the Black body. Each of these concerns of FORM for the contemporary poet revolves around what I call the Unruly, or in simpler terms, non-conformity. FORM in contemporary poetry in this way is meant to examine the ways we make meaning, and how meaning has been made. Poetry has been termed, “the great conversation”, and is thus a tool of communication. FORM impacts the potential for meaning making as well as gives us insight into how meaning has historically been made. In this 3-hour craft intensive we will investigate what it means for the unruly to speak. How the unruly shows up in the work of contemporary poets within the field. How might the unruly serve our own works in regards to form and meaning making. How the unruly in us may speak to a new notion or understanding of being within a contemporary context.
Why the Black body as a site of meaning making? The Black body and Black people as historically subjugated individuals within a global and American sense have come to stand in as subjects or beings of non-conformity. Not for the lack of trying on the part of Black people but on the part of how historical, cultural, and societal meaning has been made of Blackness across the globe and within the United States. We will investigate how Black queer and Black poetic writing has come to define an Unruly poetic, one that defies the social, historical, and cultural notion of being as a result of Blackness as Otherness.

ON INSPIRATION with Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Sunday, October 25th, 10 am PST
James Baldwin once told The Paris Review that writers need, most of all, endurance. During this time in our lives, creating art and devoting time to our writing is harder than ever. Writers’ block seems to be the norm, as the world around us competes for our attention, pulling us away from our inner selves and into the collective stream. This class is intended for writers who wish to cultivate practices of inspiration in their daily lives. Through step-by-step writing prompts, goal-setting exercises, and discussions surrounding published authors and their notions of creativity and inspiration, from Elizabeth Gilbert to Toni Morrison, we will focus on ways to find inspiration for short pieces to long-term projects and everything in between. Students will leave class with new tools on how to activate their endurance through harnessing the power of inspiration.

Faculty

Abbey Mei Otis is a writer, a teaching artist, a mongrel trash robot, an anarchist, a storyteller and a firestarter, raised in the woods of North Carolina. She loves people and art forms on the margins. Her story collection, Alien Virus Love Disaster (Small Beer 2018) was a finalist for the Philip K Dick Award. She has received fellowships from the Michener Center for Writers, the MacDowell Colony, and the Vermont Studio Center. She has survived in many American cities, and right now is experimenting with the idea of home in Minneapolis, MN. She is at work on a novel of climate catastrophe and post-mass-incarceration, This Is Not a Wasteland.

ASHIA AJANI (she/they) is a Black storyteller originally from Denver, CO, the unseeded territory of the Cheyenne, Ute and Arapaho peoples. Her work explores the layered relationship between the Black diaspora and both Southern and Western environmental stewardship. They have been published in The Journal, Sage Magazine, Sierra Magazine, The Hopper Magazine, and Foglifter Press, among others. She is a 2019 PEN America Writing for Justice Finalist. They released their first chapbook, We Bleed Like Mango, October 2017.

CARLINA DUAN is a writer-educator based in Michigan. She is the author of I WORE MY BLACKEST HAIR (Little A, 2017), and is currently at work on her second manuscript of poems. Carlina has received residencies and awards from Tin House, the Academy of American Poets, the Fulbright Program, Sundress Academy for the Arts, Narrative Magazine, the Hopwood Program, Signal Fire Arts, & more. She received her M.F.A. in Poetry from Vanderbilt University, where she served as the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Nashville Review. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Black Warrior Review, Pleiades, The Margins, & elsewhere. Carlina is currently a Ph.D. student in the Joint Ph.D. Program in English & Education at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include creative writing pedagogies and linguistic activism in storytelling. Carlina directs a Short Story Workshop for Michigan teens at the Neutral Zone in Ann Arbor.

FAYLITA HICKS is the Editor-in-Chief of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and the author of HoodWitch (Acre Books, 2019), a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Poetry and longlisted for the Julie Suk Award. They are the recipient of fellowships from Lambda Literary, Jack Jones Literary Arts, and Right of Return USA, the first fellowship designed exclusively for previously incarcerated artists. An organizer with Mano Amiga and member of the Statewide Leadership Council, established by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, they advocate for policy changes related to pretrial incarceration, immigrant detention, and the use of cash bail in rural Texas counties. Their poems, personal essays, and interviews have been featured in or are forthcoming in Adroit, American Poetry Review, Cincinnati Review, Huffpost, Kenyon Review, Longreads, Poetry Magazine, Poetry Daily, the Rumpus, Slate, Texas Monthly, the Texas Observer, and others. An interdisciplinary artist, they have an MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada University.

KALI FAJARDO-ANSTINE is a National Book Award Finalist and the author of Sabrina & Corina,a finalist for the PEN/Bingham Prize and The Story Prize, and was longlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize. Fajardo-Anstine is the 2019 recipient of the Denver Mayor’s Award for Global Impact in the Arts. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The American Scholar, Boston Review, Bellevue Literary Review, The Idaho Review, Southwestern American Literature, and elsewhere. Kali has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, Tin House, and Hedgebrook. She has an MFA from the University of Wyoming and is from Denver, Colorado. Her work has been translated into multiple languages.

JARI BRADLEY is a black genderqueer poet and scholar from San Francisco, California. Jari has received fellowships from Callaloo, Cave Canem, and Tin House. Their work has been nominated for Best of the Net by The Offing, and was listed as a finalist for Columbia Journal’s Fall 2019 Contest in Poetry. Jari’s work has also been published or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Academy of American Poets, MARY: A Journal of New Writing, Callaloo, Hot Metal Bridge, Nomadic Ground Press, The Virginia Quarterly Review, BOAAT Journal, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, The Offing, Columbia Journal, and Punctum Books’ Anti-Racism, Inc: Why the Way We Talk About Racial Justice Matters. Jari is an MFA candidate at the University of Pittsburgh.

KIRIN M. KHAN is a Pukhtuna from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who writes about trauma, the body, sports, violence, immigrants, and queerness among other stuff. She learned to write via VONA/Voices, Las Dos Brujas, Kearny Street Workshop and the Tin House Writers Workshop. She was a PEN Emerging Voices Fellow, SF Writers Grotto Fellow, an AWP Writer to Writer Mentee, and a Steinbeck Fellow, and she received a 2019 residency fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Her essay “Tight” was nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize. Check out her work at kirinkhan.com.

TANAÏS (also known as Tanwi Nandini Islam) is is the author of Bright Lines, a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and Edmund White Debut Fiction Award. She is the founder of an independent beauty & fragrance house, Hi Wildflower. Currently, she is working on her second book.

Applying

Admissions are rolling—and competitive—and fill fast! Apply early to secure a spot.

Final deadline is September 27th, 2020. Expect to hear back from us no later than September 29th, 2020.

Classes are held on Zoom. You do not need a paid account to participate.

Each Intensive is capped at 12 students and cost is $75 per class. We award one scholarship per Intensive.

Applicants must be 21+.

The link to apply is located on the righthand sidebar. The application contains a couple questions and then we will ask for a sample of your work: one story, essay or a couple poems, 5,000 words or less. Please use work in the genre of the class you are applying to, but it does not need to relate to the theme of the workshop—we are looking more generally to gauge your experience level as a writer.

You can apply for multiple classes with one application.

Scholarships

We award one scholarship per Intensive.

For scholarship applicants, we ask for an additional essay (1,000 words or less) describing what you are currently working on, how you hope an experience in our intensive will benefit your writing, and any other personal information you feel like we should know about you. Think of this as an introduction to who you are and where you are coming from as a writer. Please upload your application and scholarship essay as one document.

All scholarship applicants will also be considered for general admission (meaning you do not need to submit a general application as well).