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Journal of the Month–Required
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“
Welcome to our Class!
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 jerichowriters.com. 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.
Wednesday, October 12: Theme
Homework: Get that story done!
Wednesday, September 26-Wednesday, October 5: Poetry Workshop!
Please review the “Workshop Etiquette” handout in the left column.
Read poems here.
- Poet reads their poem aloud.
- Another student rereads the poem, so the poet can hear it too.
- Class gives both oral and written (via the comment function in Google docs) for a set period of time.
- A time keeper is appointed to keep us on track.
Monday, September 26: Poetic Forms II
Homework: Get poem ready for workshop by tomorrow at noon!! Paste it here.
Post sestina from last week here
Poem of the Day: Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, Wendell Berry (gentle rant or literal spiritual manifesto)
Monday, September 19: Characterization
Homework: Read “Treyf,” by Spencer Wise, Prairie Schooner, p. 122
Also, next 1000 words are due.
Characterization exercise: Develop a character profile
Wednesday, September 14: Meter and Rhyme in Poetry
Homework: Read “Corona Heights,” by Kate Wisel, p. 51; “Dreaming in Arabic” by Aaron Brown, p. 115 and “The Weavers,” by Ruth Kramer Baden, p. 67 and write a response to one of the poems here.
Interesting thoughts about how breathing shapes poetry…. by poet William Wooten
Barely anyone writes in trochees. Notable exception: The Tyger, William Blake
Monday, September 12: Plot
Homework: Read “The Anarchist,” Rebecca Gonshak, Prairie Schooner, p. 99, and write a response here.
- Which of the seven plots in Margaret Atwood’s list does “A Knock at the Door” fit?
- What is the source of the story’s tension? Is it literal or thematic, or both?
- How does CJ Green “raise the stakes” of the plot?
- 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
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.
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
Song of the Day: “Dry Lightning” by Bruce Springsteen, from the excellent album The Ghost of Tom Joad.
Monday, August 29
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:
First thing, subscribe to this website so you’ll know when I update it: