Craft Sessions

Afternoon craft sessions offer participants a chance to join in conversations with guest writers about process, style, revision, audience, reading, books, publication and more. Participants have the opportunity to sign up for these sessions at the time of enrollment.

The sessions below will be offered at the 2024 Institute.

Image and Text, Text as Image, and Image as Text

(with Diana Khoi Nguyen)

What is an image, and what can text entail? As an exploratory and interactive group, we will pay close attention to the nuances of these two words before excavating how they have been employed and evolved on the page over time. We will expand our original notions of these two crucial media, and how they can engage with each other. What happens at the intersection of image and text in creative work?

Mapping the Field: Geopoetics and the Page

(with Jake Skeets)

In this talk, we will look at how various poets have risen to the particular challenge of place in their work and how these poets are providing orientation to a geopoetics on the page and elsewhere as resistance, as survival, and as a way through, especially in the context of the possible end of the world.

The Play-by-Play in Fiction

(with Renee Gladman)

How do we move a character across space, describe what they’re doing or seeing, in such a way that the reader remains engaged and the narrated space energized? How do we describe a character’s morning, their preparations for bed, them stopping for a coffee? Do we really want to hold witness while Shirley makes a sandwich? This session will focus on the problems and delights of writing the mundane; we’ll use close reading, discussion of possible strategies, and one or two quick writing prompts to round out our studies.

Refusal and the space of possibility 

(with Ari Banias)

“Poets have famously enstatuated themselves among hermits and saints as an expert class of refusers,” Anne Boyer writes in her short essay, “No.” In this session we’ll encounter poems that reject, oppose, block the way, and just won’t, in order to open up structures for meaning-making. Boyer offers the notion that a no enacts a poetics of what isn’t yet, but might be. If refusal isn’t an end point but a possible beginning, if saying no can also be a devotional act, what might a poem’s objection then allow us to imagine? Discussion of poems will engage these and other questions, and participants will write from their own space of refusal.

Top Ten Tips for Writing a Novel

(with Deb Olin Unferth)

Novels, that chameleon of form and style, are extremely difficult to write. In this talk I’ll give you my very best hard-won techniques, insights, and tools. We will have time to do a couple of quick exercises, have some discussion—and I’ll tell you one thing not to worry about, too. Of course, many of these tips can apply to other forms as well.

Violence and Language

(with Noy Holland)

We practice and participate in a linguistic field that suggests and, by the norms of usage, condones acts of violence. The contemporary American idiom is militaristic; our daily spoken and written utterances enact harm by implication. Time is monetized, forwardness is applauded, the separation of species and cultures in which our vernacular participates fortifies a voracious and destructive appetite. More often than not, we cannot hear ourselves, are not listening to what we say. This session is about being better listeners.

Writer as Activist, Literature as Revolution

(with Cleyvis Natera)

This session will provide an overview of how writing can be a tool for social transformation and offer a framework to have fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful writing careers. We’ll work through a series of writing exercises that will illuminate and ignite your artistic purpose. We’ll become fortified by the lessons our literary ancestors left for us to pick up, carry forth.

Writing as Art, as Work, as Labor

(with Hilary Plum)

In this session, we’ll think together about time, work, and money. Probably also: publication, day jobs, “the industry” and “the market,” freedom, and the possibilities and struggles of the writing life. Few creative writers publishing today make a full-time living from their writing. We’ll consider together what kind of situation that is, and we’ll share and maybe discover strategies for how to “steal time” to write; how writers navigate economic considerations; how writing responds to the body, to illness, to parenting, to stages of life; and how to sustain the practice of writing alongside/against/within the demands of the working world. A talk will introduce points for consideration, and then we’ll explore our subjects through collective activities and discussion.

and more to be announced!