University of Iowa

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Dorothy Barresi

One of the most exciting, crucial currents in poetry today is the ascendancy of identity poetics: that is, poems that explore, in boundless ways, a speaker’s individual self as a political site, diversely inhabited, self-mapped, and always moving toward discovery. In this workshop, built on mutual respect and the belief that each of us owns our unique story, “political” is not a term of party allegiances in turbulent times; rather, it is an inclusive term acknowledging that all poems arise out of their particular cultural and historical moment.

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Timothy Bascom

When we write memoirs or personal essays, we inevitably find ourselves depicting those who have had the most influence in our lives—our family members. To understand the self, we must understand them. Take a look at a shelf of memoirs, and you will see just how vital those relationships are—in Vivian Gornick’s Fierce Attachments or Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home or Geoffrey Wolff’s Duke of Deception or Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family.

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Jeremy Jones

The memoir form often carries an unfortunate and limiting reputation as navel-gazing and dreary. Of course, the best memoirs do much more than meticulously document a writer’s dark past: they open up wide-reaching subjects; they find the universal through the personal. This workshop will explore work by writers who successfully weave in other subjects—history, ornithology, geography, music, and more—in order to create artful and ambitious literary nonfiction.

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Jude Nutter

Poetry, like alchemy, is a process of experimentation, distillation, and transmutation; a mixture of courage, patience, skill and happenstance. This workshop takes to heart the idea of the alchemical journey and its willingness to commit to process in order to build skills, and poems, over time. We will explore and experiment with some of the “base metals” of craft (line/sentence/pacing, the image, the stanza, for example) and look closely at the relationship between poetic form, structure, and content.

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Rachel Pastan

Often when we’re writing a story, we start at the beginning and try to get everything done at once: compelling plot, best point of view, engaging characters, beautiful images, and so on. Sometimes this works, but oftentimes it feels like so much to juggle that we get stuck, or don’t feel that the story we end up with is as rich as we’d like it to be.  

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Martin Pousson

What is the difference between a linked collection of stories and a novel-in-stories? Are these merely new terms for old forms, or is a new direction now possible for writers? Increasingly, a once contested category is becoming more accepted and more viable, with an in-between road to book publication cutting a way between the sometimes difficult-to-sell short story collection and the sometimes difficult-to-read novel.

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Suzanne Scanlon

Whether fiction or memoir or something in between, many powerful works of literature are strange—structured in a fractured, fragmented, nonlinear style. In this class, we will read and write a lot. We will experiment with forms, styles, approaches to time, place, structure, point-of-view and character, finding new and strange ways to tell (and retell) a story. Through in class writing prompts, we will construct a series of short pieces.

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Ian Stansel

In this workshop, we will look at first chapters of published novels, discussing strategies for engaging readers, setting tone, planting seeds of future plot points, developing characters, and generally writing captivating opening pages. We will also workshop student first chapters, analyzing them in the context of what we’ve learned from successfully published work. But an opening is just a start—we’ll also discuss what comes next. While all writing should be a process of discovery, for many writers a novel needs a bit more planning.

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Tameka Cage Conley

Our stories can move chronologically. They can also zigzag and weave in and out of time, utilizing flashback to thrust the plot forward and to strengthen and enhance lines of tension—worry, pressure, stress, dis-ease—that our characters experience as their worlds unfold and reveal struggles for them to face, to ponder, to question, to conquer, to perish from. In this workshop, we will consider how to manage the past, present, and the future in our fiction, while simultaneously watering the seeds of suspense.

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Jennifer Fawcett

Words and actions, these are the fundamental building blocks of plays. Subtext, motivation, desire, emotion, humor, suspense… How do you communicate these if you don’t have those long descriptive paragraphs where a character remembers her childhood or anticipates the end of his relationship? (Sure, you can put in lots of stage directions but no one reads those.) Hint: you communicate all of this and more through what your characters SAY and what they DO. The rest, as Hamlet says, is silence. And that’s essential too.

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Diana Goetsch

Most of us write a first draft the same way every time no matter the subject, falling into habitual patterns that either become unconscious or get mistaken for our “voice.” It is a lot like how we dance at parties: there are countless ways to move in space, and yet we wind up doing the same old two-step that (if we’re honest with ourselves) we’re sick of.

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Carol Spindel

Annie Dillard famously said, “The writer of any work, and particularly any nonfiction work, must decide two crucial points: what to put in and what to leave out.” If you have a nonfiction or memoir project in progress, you probably agree. But you may be asking: how do I decide? I have all this material, but how do I shape it? Where do I begin and end? Which parts do I put in and which do I leave out?

 

Weeklong July 14 to July 19 2019
Instructor(s): 
Kelly Dwyer

W. Somerset Maugham has said that there are three rules to writing a novel but that, unfortunately, no one knows what they are. We might safely assume though, that one of these rules might have something to do with plot: Maybe we should have one in our novels? Maybe it would be helpful to plan the plot out ahead of time? In this weeklong workshop, we’ll do various exercises to help us develop and deepen our plots.