Craft Sessions

WRITE FOR YOUR LIFE
Sessions on Craft

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

WHAT’S THE WHERE?

- Seth Jarvis    CCM 442

The perfect setting enhances a story in innumerable ways – externalizing theme and conflict, reflecting mood, establishing associations, and sometimes even acting as an additional character. Through a series of exercises and activities, we’ll explore methods of creating evocative environments and how those locales can either help launch your writing or serve to complete the full picture.

DIVINING YOUR PRACTICE: HOW TO GENERATE THAT NEXT POEM OR STORY WITH HELP FROM THE TAROT

- KL Pereira CCM 232

Has your writing practice been getting a little stale lately? Switch things up with this fun craft session that will teach you how to use tarot (and other oracle decks) to focus your creative energy and lead you down fruitful writing paths. Bring a favorite deck to class if you have one. Sample decks and a very quick introduction to the cards will be provided.

FLYING TOWARDS THE LIGHT: MOTH STORYTELLING

- J.C. Ellefson Joyce 102

During a sizzling summer fifteen years ago, poet and novelist George Dawes Green and some of his no-good friends gathered for evenings of storytelling 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. A year later, 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.

WORDBLAST

- Geof Hewitt Joyce 103

The writing’s on the page, now bring it to life! How do we bring our own voice and body into the expression of a poem or monologue/dialog/trialog, short story, or opinion piece? Come prepared to generate a fresh piece of writing in 7 minutes, and bring anything else you’ve written that you might want to perform in a volunteers-only WordBlast, where we’ll coach each other into ever more powerful presentation!

FAIRYTALE SCRAMBLE

- Jenny MacKenzie CCM 424

Got writer's block? Want to spin a new tale? Come and give a hand at remixing some age-old stories with new twists. We'll take a look at a few examples and try some of our own. Both poets and storytellers are welcome.

THEY SAID, WE SAID: WRITING EFFECTIVE DIALOGUE

- Jensen Beach Ireland 217

Some generalizations, helpfully: every sentence in fiction conveys information that is, even if not obviously so, related to the story’s center. This is where fiction differs from real life. Fiction is a magic show, full of tricks. In part it is manipulation of reader response. Effective dialog, then, should simulate but not transcribe normal human speech. Sounds easy enough, but can be very tricky in practice. In this session, we'll practice writing dialog that is effective, realistic, and artful.

LOSING YOUR MIND WHILE WRITING

- Geoffrey Gevalt Ireland 117

Join YWP founder Geoffrey Gevalt as he leads you on a madcap race through your brain, tiring out your hands as you pour out ideas, characters, stories, opinions in a scattershot but fun kind of way. Writing as exploration. A series of quick-hit prompts, some sharing, much laughter.

THE CRUCIVERBAL CRUCIBLE: CONSTRUCTING A CROSSWORD

- Adrienne Raphel CCM 444

Calling all cruciverbalists: Descend from your AERIE and get ready ASAP to dive into an OLIO of all things crossword-related. We’ll learn the benefits of being named UMA or TERI, how an OREO started a war, and why crossword constructors listen to Brian ENO and worship Mr. SMEE. We’ll create our own mini-crosswords, fitting words into the grid and scheming up clues that both guide and stump solvers. No prior experience with word puzzles required.

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

THE BEAST & THE BRIAR: REIMAGINING FAIRY TALES

- GennaRose Nethercott CCM 221

As every writer knows, there is nothing more daunting than the dreaded blank page. But what if you didn’t have to start from nothing? What if the strange, beloved stories you’ve known all your life could act as your guide? In this hands-on workshop for poets and prose writers, alike, we’ll be doing a series of generative writing exercises to produce new versions of classic fairytales and folktales, as well as exploring enchanted tropes to help you create wholly original legends of your own. With endless stories to draw from, you’ll never need to face the blank page again.

DON’T WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, WRITE WHAT YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND

- Alex Smith CCM 424

In our increasingly polarized society, it’s never seemed more important to understand the motivations of people with whom we feel we have nothing in common. Fortunately, writing is a wonderful vehicle with which to explore and examine the unfamiliar. What’s more, there’s endless inspiration and story to be mined through building fresh characters and breaking from semi-autobiographical protagonists.

Bring a pen and an open mind; we’ll discuss the thrills and pitfalls of such exploratory writing, and use prompts to take a stab at building characters who are foreign when the pen is raised.

MOVIES ON THE PAGE

- John Rasmussen CCM 101

Should writers study film? Should filmmakers study poetry and prose? If so, what is at stake? What is the possible take-a-way? In this craft talk, we will use as a departure point the great Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel's essay "Cinema as an Instrument of Poetry". Nobel novelist Octavio Paz called Buñuel's work "the marriage of the film image to the poetic image, creating a new reality...scandalous and subversive". In this craft talk, we will take a look at both the scandal and the subversion, discover what these forces did for Buñuel, but more importantly, discover what they can do for our own work, and how we can use both to fuel the creation of an entirely new reality. Please bring your work clothes: I'll supply the tools of deconstruction.

MULTIPLAYER (DIALOGUE) GAMES

- Philip Baruth CCM 444

Graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, one of Vermont's most amazing writers (Fun Home, Dykes to Watch Out For), has an intriguing technique for developing the panels of her comics: she poses, physically, as every character in every box on every page. And that exercise makes every character fully participatory, alive. I do something similar with dialogue -- I try to move my consciousness back and forth between the two (or more) participants in the conversation, making sure each seems alive and sentient to the reader. In this craft session, we'll make that literal -- you'll write dialogue with a partner, after having decided where and why the conversation takes place. Best case scenario: the results surprise you, as well as the reader.

GOOD WRITERS ARE ALSO GOOD READERS

- Tony Magistrale Joyce 103

What can writers learn by studying carefully the language and stylistics used successfully by other writers? We’ll look at an example of some great writing, deconstruct it in an effort to discover what makes it great, and then then try to distill what we learn together into your own work.

EVERYBODY'S SCREAMING!: WRITING THE POLITICAL POEM THAT STANDS OUT, QUIETLY, IN ALL THE CHAOS

- Brionne Janae CCM 232

In our current political climate where it seems that every email, facebook post, and tweet begins with now more than ever, where everyone from the white house on down is screaming their opinions, proclamations and threats into the senseless void, and our news cycle and social media feeds are saturated with violence, how do we write poems about the issues we care about that stand out in all the noise. In this session we’ll discover how to write political poems that don’t just add to the noise by shouting our rage. Instead we’ll focus on poems,like Ross Gays, “A Small Needful Fact,” and Mark Doty’s “In Two Seconds,” which critique the atrocities in our time by focusing on the beauty, lost or marred by violence, or poems like Jamaal May’s “There are Birds Here,” which insist on the life and possibility of a city others choose define in terms of lack.

SPECULATION: IT'S NOT JUST FOR WALL STREET ANYMORE

- J.C. Ellefson Joyce 102

In 1948 writer William Stafford moved to Oregon to teach at Lewis and Clark College. His first major collection of poems, Traveling Through the Dark, was published when Stafford was forty-eight. It won the National Book Award in 1963. He went on to publish more than--Holy Cow!--sixty-five volumes of poetry and prose, plus a few books about writing. Bill wrote over 22,000 poems and had over 3,000 of them published. He even wrote a poem on the day he died. So what was the secret of his uncanny, other-worldly production? According to Stafford himself, much of his monumental portfolio was attributed to what he called "speculation". In this workshop, we're going to wear out the shoes of a literary stock broker; we are going to commit some considerable metaphorical investment to action; and finally, we are going to cash in on a quick and considerable literary treasure trove. Poets and prose writers, come prepared to dig for it.

FINDING YOUR MIND WHILE WRITING

- Geoffrey Gevalt Ireland 117

Finding your mind while writing. Bring your best idea – produced in Friday’s session with YWP founder Geoffrey Gevalt – and work on it. Drawing on techniques designed to help you focus, half the session will be rapid fire discussion of possibilities, the rest on diving deep on your favorite idea. And sharing, of course.

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

THE ART & ARCHITECTURE OF HOME

- Shuchi Saraswat CCM 221

Home is an origin, home is an aspiration, home is a lack, home is personal. How do we make this intimate space interesting to our readers? In this class we'll explore different ways to incorporate the physical spaces of home into our stories. We'll read, brainstorm, borrow, write and share. Get ready to get personal.

THE INTERVIEW AND THE STORY

- Peter Biello CCM 444

A good interview can lead to a good story. By talking with the right people in the right way, you can uncover convincing details for a piece of written prose. Sometimes the interview itself has all the qualities of a compelling narrative (podcast, anyone?). In this session, we'll look at how an interview shapes (or becomes) a story, and how a combination of planning, listening, and natural curiosity can yield something magical and compelling.

POET: BOSS OF BOSSES

- Tanya Larkin Ireland 217

This craft session will focus on one speech act: the command. Percy Bysshe Shelley says poets are “the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” but in this workshop we will legislate and be acknowledged. One of the central axioms of poetry is that it tells you how to lead a good life. But it can also teach you how to lead the good life, or for that matter, a completely silly, purely fun life, in which you can’t keep yourself from collapsing in giggles over nothing, again and again. In this workshop, we will take Yoko Ono’s lead and write a series of instructions for poetic actions in the world. In “Water Piece,” she writes: “Steal a moon on the water with a bucket. / Keep stealing until no moon is seen on / the water.” Here the poem is a script for how to behave poetically in the world. In other words, the page is the page, but so is the world.

WRITING THE UNSAYABLE

- Rob Arnold CCM 424

Trigger warnings and content notices are vital for creating spaces safe for healing from trauma. But literature, modeling life, is full of unsafe spaces—from the atrocities of war to domestic violence, assault, and beyond. This workshop will explore techniques for reconciling those two seemingly contradictory truths, and find ways that writing can both shine a light on traumatic experience, while providing a safe space to explore it.

REVISE, RE-SEE, REWRITE... WITH GOOGLE

- Lillian Bertram CCM 223

Revision can sometimes be a frustrating and annoying process. After all--how can we "re-see" and reinterpret our own work into something new, unfamiliar, even strange? We use Google for everything else, but can we use it for this?...

GO BIG: MANIFESTOS AND CREDOS

- Clark Knowles Ireland 117

What are we doing when we sit down to write? Who are we when we say, "I am creating something." What do we want the world to see? How do we make the world in our art? How does the world make us? Sometimes we want to sit down and create without thinking about what we mean or how we say it. In those moments, we shout: "Leave me alone, I just want to follow this current wherever it takes me!" But in other moments (maybe when pondering the nature of art or poetry or stories or images or songs or politics or justice or equality or love) we might try to formulate and explore and announce the rules we want to abide or break. Such testimonies go by many names: preambles, statements of purpose, manifestos, credos, and proclamations. Let's come together and talk about some of the more famous creative manifestos, figure out what makes them effective, and then write some of our own. And declarations aren't meant to be small. If you are proclaiming your artistic intentions to the world, its gonna be big (even if you are writing about electrons!). I'll bring supplies, but if you have a favorite writing utensil big enough to help you formulate your public declaration, bring it along. Otherwise, just bring you. You are the critical component.

WIKIPEDIA POEMS

- Kerrin McCadden Joyce 102

Arguably, you don’t already know about sea squirts or the anatomy of a scorpion’s lungs—but you will after reading the poems “About Muscle,” by Marylen Grigas, and “Iskandariya,” by Brigit Pegeen Kelly. The specific information about each animal is useful in helping an average reader make a connection to a human feeling—at least the feelings of the speaker in each poem. We will write poems using uncommon information—some we pull during our session from Wikipedia, the source your teachers usually tell you to avoid. What can we build from such materials? Hopefully, some weird little poems that help us navigate the heart.

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.