EGL 225: Creative Writing, Fall 2022

Taking this class is like having your eyeball gradually consume the rest of your body, until you are nothing but a giant, blinking, crying orb.. Just kidding. Or not.

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Workshop Etiquette

Prose Stories:

Denis Johnson, “Emergency

Tim O’Brien, “The Things They Carried

Joyce Carol Oates, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been

ZZ Packer, “Brownies

Ernest Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants


Richard Hugo, “The Triggering Town,” Chapters 1&2

Welcome to our Class!

  • Monday, November 21: Exquisite Corpses

    Note: Wednesday’s class will be on Zoom!!

    Homework: Read “Cyborg’s Brother,” by Iheoma Nwachukwu, Agni, p.74 & Next of Kin,” by Linda Mannheim, p. 141. Write a response on one story, here.

    Short story #2 is due on Sunday @ noon!! Turn it in here.

  • Wednesday, November 16: That’s What She Said–Dialogue

    Poem of the Day: The Tradition, by Jericho Brown

    Poem of the Day: Spring, Ominpotent Goddess, Thou, e.e. Cummings

    Today’s lesson comes from the good people at This exhaustive page gives all of the good reasons why focusing on dialogue is an important part of any fiction writer’s development. How might you use the guidelines to streamline your dialogue and, at the same time, develop your characters and reveal the important themes of your story?

  • Wednesday, November 2: Let’s Get Back to Business

    Here’s a cute little poem about being sick, by Billy Collins.

    Poem for workshop due Sunday, November 6 @ 11:59 P.M. here.

    Face-to-face class will resume on Monday, November 7. I can’t wait to be back! Remember to re-read and comment on Malak’s and Lee’s stories so we can wrap up our fiction workshop.

  • Monday, October 10

    Note: we’re a day off in the syllabus: your first short story will now be due Sunday, October 16, at 6 p.m., here.

    Homework: “A List of Extinctions,” by Miranda Williams, Booth, p. 131, and write a response here.

  • Wednesday, September 26-Wednesday, October 5: Poetry Workshop!

    Please review the “Workshop Etiquette” handout in the left column.

    Read poems here.

    Workshop format:

    1. Poet reads their poem aloud.
    2. Another student rereads the poem, so the poet can hear it too.
    3. Class gives both oral and written (via the comment function in Google docs) for a set period of time.
    4. A time keeper is appointed to keep us on track.
  • Wednesday, September 21: Poetic Forms, I

    Homework: read “Why Write in Form” and write a response here.

    Today’s exercise: Divide up into three groups of six. Crowdsource six end-words: Split up and come back with a sestina, using the “Sestina-o-Matic.”

  • Monday, September 12: Plot

    Homework: Read “The Anarchist,” Rebecca Gonshak, Prairie Schooner, p. 99, and write a response here.

    1. Which of the seven plots in Margaret Atwood’s list does “A Knock at the Door” fit?
    2. What is the source of the story’s tension? Is it literal or thematic, or both?
    3. How does CJ Green “raise the stakes” of the plot?
    4. Where is the climax in the story? What irreversibly changes for the narrator?

    Plot Exercise: Working Backward

    Album of the Day:

  • Wednesday, September 7

    Homework: Read “A Knock at the Door,” by CJ Green, Prairie Schooner, pp. 56-59 and write a 250-word response here.

    Tips on writing imagery, by Margaret Atwood

    Examples of imagery:

    “These Strange Weathers,” Joseph Omoh Ndukwu, p. 45,

    “Job’s Wife begins to feel the seven-year itch,” Jaclyn Dwyer, p. 153

    “Some Drew Horses,” Angela Sorby, p.. 95


    William Stafford’s Daily Poetry Prompt

    Write down 10 images you saw in the last 24 hours

    Open Prairie Schooner at random—write down one line

    Use the line you chose as either the first line, or write a response toit, or use some of the words in it—then use all 10 images to craft your poem.

    A ten-line poem I liked from last week:

    Wake up to a cold breeze

    As I roll to the wrong side of the ship

    Open a can of dirt

    Only to find a shrimp reading a newspaper

    With a cuttlefish named Lebron

    I go through the door

    Up the stairs to the weather deck

    Say hello to Moby Dick

    I look out to the sea

    Thinking how I miss my family

    • Caleb S.
  • Wednesday, August 31

    Zbigniew Herbert, reading his poem, “The Envoy of Mr. Cogito”

    The tone of your six-word memoirs tended toward sadness: it’s not surprising, given that we are living in the Burning States of Pandemic these days. I hope that Herbert’s poem from last week is a balm for your souls.


    Poem of the Day, “Discovering Your Subject,” by Pattiann Rogers

    Question: Why do I/would I/might I want to write creatively? What has “triggered” me to create in the past? Post your answer here, anonymously.

    Exercise: 10-line poem :

    Give me ten random words:

    Then, subvert a cliche!

    –“it’s raining cats & dogs”

    –“don’t let the cat out of the bag”

    –“woke up on the wrong side of the bed”

    Homework: Finish 10-line poem and post here

    Read Richard Hugo, “The Triggering Town,” chapters 1 & 2 & take quiz.

    Song of the Day: “Dry Lightning” by Bruce Springsteen, from the excellent album The Ghost of Tom Joad.

  • Monday, August 29


    Journal of the Month

    Poem of the day: Envoy of Mr. Cogito, by Zbigniew Herbert


    Assignment: Memoir in six words. Link to Google Doc

    What’s a memoir, you ask?

    “The past is not static, or ever truly complete; as we age we see from new positions, shifting angles. A therapist friend of mine likes to use the metaphor of the kind of spiral stair that winds up inside a lighthouse. As one moves up that stair, the core at the center doesn’t change, but one continually sees it from another vantage point; if the past is a core of who we are, then our movement in time always brings us into a new relation to that core.” Mark Doty, “Return to Sender: Memory, Betrayal, and Memoir,” The Writer’s Chronicle, Nov. 2005

    Homework (due 9/9): On the Google Doc, comment on a colleague’s memoir that strikes you as odd or surprising. Which words, or combination of words, evoke an unusual feeling or image in your mind? Write at least two sentences.

    Today’s writing playlist: Aussie surf rock & worthy covers:

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