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.