Craft Sessions

2019 WRITE FOR YOUR LIFE
Sessions on Craft

SESSION I: Friday, 4:45 - 5:45 p.m.

YOUR OWN WILD VOICE

- Moira Smiley CCM 221

The human voice has astonishing range and color, and—as with our lungs & brains—we may not use it to its full glory! This fast-paced, fun workshop playfully explodes your assumptions about your own voice. You'll sing extraordinary parts of unusual traditional songs. Eastern European and Appalachian songs will root you, while call & response, vocal improvisation and movement will keep you discovering ever more inventive parts of yourself. We will playfully draw out techniques, timbres, and styles you always knew were in you as a singer or writer, but maybe hadn't felt you could bring out! Expect group and individual (optional) singing and sound-making.

FLYING TOWARDS THE LIGHT: MOTH STORYTELLING

- J.C. Ellefson Joyce 103

The Moth, a NYC-based storytelling non-profit, was founded in 1997 by poet and novelist George Dawes Green, who wanted to recreate the feeling of the sultry summer evenings where he and some of his no-good friends would gather for evenings of tales on a back porch in Georgia. "Moths would flutter through a hole in the screen" while his bunch told true stories from their lives, no notes, no props, five-minute time limit. By 2009, George launched The Moth radio hour on NPR, initiating an enormous nationwide following. In this workshop, we'll study Moth form and function, unravel the art, appraise the technique, throw the switch, take to the stage, go public, and watch the moths flutter towards the light.

MINE YOUR CHILDHOOD!

- Jenny Mackenzie CCM 233

Got writer's block? Need a never-ending source of ideas? In this workshop, we'll check out how some of the greatest modern writers have used incidents from their childhoods to create memorable poems, ranging from traumatic to comic and a whole lot in between. Bring your pen and get ready to dig-you may uncover your greatest poem yet.

ANYTHING GOES: WRITING AND SLAMMING FOR FUN AND PROFIT

- Geof Hewitt CCM 424

An interesting aspect of "poetry slams" is that poems are sometimes few and far between. Because the audience only hears the writing, a work of prose has as good a chance as poetry at winning the fabulous prizes. In this workshop, we'll all create quickwrites of prose or poetry; volunteers will then perform/slam their new writing or something else they've brought to the session for gentle critique and brief discussion.

WRITING THE EXTRA-ORDINARY

- Jericho Parms Ireland 112

Ready to put aside your most dramatic memories? Willing to check all epic experiences at the door? In this craft session we'll explore the power of everyday moments, gestures, and details and consider how the seemingly ordinary can evoke memory and imagination and lead us to extraordinary discoveries. With a range of prompts to inspire playfulness and adventures in form, we will discuss ways to find voice, access memory, and write our own narratives-through poetry or prose-not based on extraordinary experiences, but found in the everyday, commonplace details around us.

ERASURE

- Kerrin McCadden Ireland 217

Recently, poet laureate Tracey K. Smith wrote a poem called "Declaration." She wrote the poem by erasing words from the Declaration of Independence, leaving a powerful poem on the page that calls out systemic racism in the United States. Her poem builds a new utterance from the materials of a very old utterance. Erasures allow us to comment on existing texts—for personal or political purposes, helping us build surprising poems out of sometimes unexpected materials. Our source text? A book on etiquette. Let's erase some old fashioned ideas about "gracious living," and write poems that imagine something new.

I FEEL BAD FOR YOU: THE FIRST FEW CHAPTERS

- Peter Biello Wick 102

The first few chapters of your novel may find your characters in great distress. That's a good thing. Readers love conflict and enjoy watching your characters overcome enormous challenges. But how do writers choose the conflict? How do these conflicts expose the protagonist's qualities and make them interesting? And how do we feel something other than just pity for this down-trodden character? In this workshop, we'll think of ways to destroy our character's equilibrium and delight the reader.

YOU GOT TO HAVE AN ENGINE TO DRIVE THE CAR

- Tony Magistrale CCM 232

What can we learn about our own writing by analyzing carefully the writing of others? We'll begin this session with a close reading of a short but excellent piece of professional writing. We'll take it apart, line by line, in an effort to discover what the writer managed to accomplish via his choice of diction, sentence lengths, use of grammar, shift in tone, etc. These are, after all, crucial aspects of the writing craft. After discussing what we've learned from studying this professional narrative, you'll spend the rest of the session applying one element of what we've summarized directly to a piece of your own writing.

SESSION II: Saturday 11:00 - 12:00 p.m.

"I WANT IT THAT WAY": HOW TO THROW A BEAUTIFUL TANTRUM

- Genevieve Plunkett CCM 232

In this session, we will take a hard look at the ways that we are asked to validate ourselves in our day-to-day existence and in our writing. At school, we might feel the pressure to back our ideas with evidence, to pull from the text, to circle back to the topic at hand. At home, we might have to make a case for something that we want, to make our desires fit into the "real world." Similarly, in fiction, we are asked about our characters' motivation—why do they do what they do?—and our own—is that sentence "earned?" The world is a demanding place, its pressures ever mounting. Let's experiment with letting that go, to standing up for the stories we want to tell, "just because." Let's move away from the defensive and into the riotous, unapologetic logic of our dreams and desires.

WRITING VOLUME- GENERATING MATERIAL AS A WORKING WRITER

-Alex Smith CCM 424

The painter Chuck Close may not have been entirely serious when he said 'Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work," but he was not entirely wrong. We all live for the burst of inspiration that clubs us over the head, drags us to our desk, and refuses to let us rest until the song (story, poem, whatever it may be) is on the page. But waiting for ideas to happen to you is a dangerous game. In this session, we'll explore a few reliable prompts to help us efficiently exercise the writing muscle on a regular basis, and limit the days when nothing comes out.

MONSTER LAB

- GennaRose Nethercott Ireland 217

What defines a monster? Dreadful deeds, claws and teeth, supernatural ability? Are monsters villains to be vanquished, or simply misunderstood outsiders? Who would win in a fight, a vampire or medusa? In Monster Lab, we'll meet a few of literature and folklore's coolest beasts, talk about how to write paranormal creatures, and then-you'll invent a few new monsters of your own.

METAPHORS ARE YOUR FRIENDS. Really.

- J.C. Ellefson Joyce 103

This is what we know: "a metaphor states that one thing is another thing." And we know this: "a metaphor equates those two things not because they actually are the same, but for the sake of comparison or symbolism." Furthermore, "If you take a metaphor literally, it will probably sound very strange (are there actually any sheep, black or otherwise, in your family?)" But what do metaphors really do to and for your readers, and more importantly, what do they do for you as a writer? What do they do to your human heart? In this workshop, I will be Sacagawea, you will be both Lewis and Clark, and we will go exploring all over your personal Louisiana Purchase.

SUPERHEROES, ORIGIN STORIES AND THE ENDGAME OF CHARACTER

- Philip Baruth CCM 221

When I was a kid, we talked a lot about which superhero could defeat which superhero, if somehow they weren't both focused on making the world safe for Good and the American Way. And that obsession with pure power is fun, and involving. But the true reason America loves superhero comics, films, and graphic novels is that they create character in a vivid, palpable, time-honored way: through origin stories. Those origin stories usually attach a series of stark emotions to our perception of the hero; we read them through the events that shaped them, forever after. So we'll talk about character and origins in this craft talk, and we'll invent a powerful new team of heroes, with emphasis on their grief, their anger, their loves, and their final glorious vindication.

CUT-UPS

- John Rasmussen CCM 233

The kind employed by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin. The idea is to crash images together to create inspiration and new perspective. You will leave the workshop with your very own blueprint for a cut-up movie. Please bring in two paragraphs of your choosing (beautiful literature, political speeches, hamster care manuals, poetry.... ) and some of your trustiest scissors and the script is more than halfway there. Rearrange the four parts and watch the result explode. Now that you have the plan, let the shooting commence at your whim. Once the shoot and conventional edit are complete, you will cut the film into four parts and then rearrange them in one second sections: 1, 2, 3, 4 1, 2, 3, 4. And then you have a fully formed cut-up.

THE LABOR OF BEAUTY

- Jensen Beach Wick 102

In this workshop we'll consider the unexpected physical details that lend power to a piece of fiction, the ways that objects can, as Rilke has it, be "suffused with brilliance from inside." We'll discuss notions of setting, proximity, and the hard work of seeing as writers.

WRITING MAGICAL REALISM

- Shuchi Saraswat Ireland 112

"When Gregor Samsa awoke from troubled dreams one morning, he found that he had been transformed in his bed into an enormous bug." So begins Franz Kafka's famous novella, The Metamorphosis, which is yes, about a man turning into a giant insect, but is also about a alienation and familial obligation—themes that are more familiar to us. realm of fantasy? We'll look at examples of magical realism and then take what we've Incorporating the abnormal into your fiction can be a wonderful way to expand the rules of an imaginary world, but how do writers do this without completely jumping into the learned and work on exercises that stretch our imagination and help us find a way to seamlessly blend the strange with the real.

SESSION III: Saturday 3:45 - 4:45 p.m.

HAUNTED OBJECTS: GHOSTS WAITING TO BE BORN

- Michael Nethercott CCM 232

Ghosts abound-whether they be the phantoms of lore and literature or the shadows of our own lives in the world. Is that low midnight moan a passing wind or some unsettled specter? Or perhaps the ballad of a human heart? Through the use of unexpected objects and props, this session will let you put pen to paper to explore the notion of spirits as symbols of the unknown, the lost, the feared, and the longed for. As a writer, you may be drawn to ghosts as actual supernatural beings or as echoes of memory. In either case, you'll be invited here to reach out and lift the lid of the unknown. And give voice to what you find.

WHO'S ON FIRST & WHAT'S IT TO YOU? - STATUS GAMES FOR STORYTELLING

- Seth Jarvis CCM 221

Through the use of a parlor game and some active exercises, we'll explore how status is a key to character dynamics and a constant source of subtext.

MUTATING NURSERY RHYMES

- Adrienne Raphel Ireland 217

Nursery rhymes might seem innocent, meek, childish—frankly, kind of boring-but they're anything but. In this craft talk, we unlock the power of the humble nursery rhyme and turn it into poetry dynamite. We'll discover the hidden world of nursery rhymes, deciphering obscure children's songs from rural France, and investigating how nursery rhymes form the backbone of poems. We'll use our favorite nursery rhymes as DNA to inspire new poems - and think beyond traditional transference to genetic mutations.

ASK THE ORACLES
(Where no writerly question will go unanswered)

- CCYW Faculty Panel Joyce 103

In ancient Greece, when people sought wisdom or advice, they often turned to an oracle—and for good reason: oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods spoke directly to the people. Here at the CCYW, we have assembled a brazen bunch of authors who can certainly compete with anyone holding court at Adelphi. If you want to know absolutely anything and everything about being a writer, this workshop might be for you.

PERSONA POEMS: A VEHICLE FOR DISCOVERY AND RECLAMATION

- Brionne Janae CCM 233

In this craft talk we'll uncover the expansive potential of the persona poem, from retelling and reclaiming lost and untold histories, world building, to taking a stance politically. Persona give us the ability to step out of the singularity of our individual experience and speak with the voice of the multitudes. During our time we will learn from the modern persona masters such as Louise Glück, Tyhimba Jess, and Adrienne Matejka, and discuss the difference between what makes a persona poem work, and what gives a persona poem life!

CHARACTER BUILDING

- Geoff Gevalt CCM 424

The most important part of storytelling—no matter the genre—is to have compelling characters. And to make them compelling, you have to know and appreciate them. So bring your favorite character(s) to this energetic workshop (an opening writing exercise will help you devise a new one if your other characters are shy and don't want to come), Geoffrey Gevalt—writer, photographer and founder of Young Writers Project—will help you develop and deepen your characters, showing you some techniques that will help you in writing to come.

WEIRD IT UP

- Lillian-Yvonne Bertram Ireland 112

Language is awesome. You can make so many cool sounds and invented worlds with words. Our poems can be our comfort spaces, our safe places, havens where we can test the limits of our imagination and language. So let's weird it up. In this craft session we will explore various methods to weird up and experiment with what we've written, bust out of those comfort zones into new ones and explore the possibilities of letting our poems get weird and challenge our senses.

SELF-PORTRAITS: GETTING TO KNOW THE "YOU" BEHIND YOUR WRITING

- Clark Knowles Wick 102

Who are we? Can we write without knowing ourselves? Our creative selves are the platforms from which we reach out into the void to remind the void that "we are here." So doesn't it make sense that we have a sense of ourselves? Let's write some self-portraits so that we can better understand the person behind the art. Self-portraits are a part of every creative individual's journey. We'll look at some famous self-portraits—painters, photographer, musicians, poets, writers—and then we'll talk about what sorts of things might be useful to our self-portraits. We'll ask questions and make a few lists. And then we'll dip down into the messy world of words and see what image we can find on the page. Then, hopefully, you can go out into the world and stand on benches, read your portraits, and introduce yourself to the world.