Conference Workshops


When registering for the conference, please state the workshop you will take. Space is limited. 

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Saturday, July 20th Workshops



Mind the Scaffolding: Restructuring the Story   THIS CLASS IS NOW FULL

Instructor: Camille Acker

Often writers focus on perfecting a plot or defining a character without discovering the best structure for their story. By considering the scaffolding of the stories we build, a writer can alter the plot, reveal a character in a new way, and shift the last image for a reader sometimes without having to write a single new word. In this workshop, writers will generate scenes in class and then rearrange those scenes to create different versions of potential stories. Students will leave having explored the possibilities of a single story and created outlines for their chosen version.

Camille Acker holds a BA in English from Howard University and an MFA in Creative Writing from New Mexico State University and has more than fifteen years’ experience as a writer and editor. Her work has been supported by workshops and residencies at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Millay Colony for the Arts, Voices of Our Nations Arts (VONA), the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, and Callaloo Writers Workshop. She co-edited Dismantle: An Anthology from the VONA/Voices Workshop and co-founded the website for and about single women, The Spinsters Union. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Publishers Weekly, Fandor, NewCity, Fusion, and DAME Magazine, among others. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing program at New Mexico State University. Her short story collection, Training School for Negro Girls, is out now from The Feminist Press.

Non-Fiction Essay 

The Art of Telling: Taking Your Life to Another Level   THIS CLASS IS NOW FULL

Instructor: Ira Sukrungruang

Creative writing suffers from age-old adages. One that has permeated the creative writing classroom is: show don’t tell. Good creative writing, however, exists in the balance of scene and exposition. The telling part of writing makes an essay memorable by narrative expressions of vulnerability, secrets, and philosophical inquiry. It is the heart that fuels the engine of narrative writing.  In this workshop, we will explore and read the various types of telling by literary marvels like James Baldwin, Cheryl Strayed, and Patricia McNair. We will try our hand at a few and discuss the pitfalls of over telling or not trusting the reader and not telling enough, leaving readers in the fog. The workshop will center not on what to tell, but how and when and to what effect it serves.  

Ira Sukrungruang is the author of three nonfiction books: Buddha’s Dog & other Meditations, Southside Buddhist and Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy, the short story collection The Melting Season, and the poetry collection In Thailand It Is Night. He is the recipient of the 2015 American Book Award, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Nonfiction Literature, an Arts and Letters Fellowship, and the Emerging Writer Fellowship. His work has appeared in many literary journals, including Post Road, The Sun, and Creative Nonfiction. He is one of the founding editors of Sweet: A Literary Confection, and is the Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing at Kenyon College. For more information, visit



Word + Image: This Place Is My Poem

Instructor: Pablo Miguel Martínez

Artists and writers who consider Texas, which looms so large in the collective imagination, require a far-ranging mind to do their subject justice. During this workshop, we will use ekphrasis* as a strategy for drafting poems about this land, which is much more than facile stereotype. The workshop leader will share images as part of a writing prompt. Participants are also encouraged to bring an image that encapsulates what Texas means to them.
(*Variously defined, a poem that is a meditation on/description of a work of art, or a poem in which the speaker is part of/inhabits the world of the artwork, or a poem in which the speaker is the work of art.)

Pablo Miguel Martínez is an award-winning poet whose poetry and prose have been published in the North American Review, San Antonio Express-News, Texas Poetry Review, and many other publications and periodicals. His first book of poetry, Brazos, Carry Me, received the 2013 PEN Southwest Book Award for Poetry. His chapbook, Cuent@ (Finishing Line Press), was published in 2015. Martínez’s literary work has received support from the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation and the Artist Foundation of San Antonio. He is also a co-founder of CantoMundo, a national retreat-workshop for Latina/o poets.

In addition to his writing and work in the nonprofit sector, Martínez has taught English and creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Houston’s Lone Star College, and the University of Louisville. His work often revolves around lives that don’t fit the standard mold of the society they’re living in, including Latinx and LGBTQIA characters.

Sunday, July 21st Workshops



If I Speak for the Dead: Remaking History & Accessing Memory

Instructor: Analicia Sotelo

This course will explore how poetry is a language of possibility, a way of accessing those parts of our human experience that we may not see until they are written down. We will share our work within a generative-workshop model that focuses on encouraging, peer-driven feedback; beginners and experienced writers alike will help each other move in new directions and experiment with voice, style, and image. We will focus on memory through sensory experience and history through recollection. Bring any images you find particularly resonant to your narrative, or just pictures you are curious about. By the end of the workshop, you will take away new drafts of poems as well as activities and axis points that will help you continue to create new work that carries the energy of discovery.

Analicia Sotelo is the author of Virgin, the inaugural winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, selected by Ross Gay for Milkweed Editions, 2018. She is also the author of the chapbook, Nonstop Godhead, selected by Rigoberto González for a 2016 Poetry Society of America National Chapbook Fellowship. Her poem “I’m Trying to Write a Poem About a Virgin and It’s Awful” was selected for Best New Poets 2015 by Tracy K. Smith. Poems have also appeared in the New YorkerBoston ReviewFIELD, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and The Antioch Review. She is the recipient of the 2016 DISQUIET International Literary Prize, a Canto Mundo fellowship, and scholarships from the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Image Text Ithaca Symposium. Analicia holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Houston and works at The Black Sheep Agency. She serves as an Adroit Journal Summer Mentor, a committee member of the Poison Pen Reading Series, and on the City of Houston's Millennial Advisory Board. 


Penetrating the Mystery of Story THIS CLASS IS NOW FULL

Instructor: Andre Dubus III

If I teach nothing in my writing classes, I teach this: do not outline your novel or novella or short story or essay or memoir. Do not think out the plot, the narrative arc, the protagonist’s journey, whatever you want to call it. Instead, try to find the story through an honest excavation of the characters’ total experience of the situation in which they find themselves. Do that, and I promise the story will begin to write itself, with little need for the controlling hand of the godly, intelligent, well-read, and ambitious author. But how, precisely, does one go about this “excavation”? And how, technically speaking, can we ignite a story into “writing itself”? Come to this workshop, and I will seek to demystify those writerly tools and skills that time and time again, if they are sharp enough, and if the writer can summon enough daily faith and nerve, can penetrate the mystery of story itself.

Andre Dubus III’s seven books include the New York Times’ bestsellers House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days, and his memoir, Townie. His 2013 novella collection, Dirty Love, was a New York Times “Notable Book” selection, a New York Times “Editors’ Choice”, and a Kirkus “Starred Best Book of 2013”. His novel, Gone So Long, published in the fall of 2018, has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal and been named on many “Best Books” lists, including selection for The Boston Globe’s “Twenty Best Books of 2018” and “The Best Books of 2018”, “Top 100”, Amazon.

Dubus has been a finalist for the National Book Award, and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, The National Magazine Award for Fiction, two Pushcart Prizes, and is a recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His books are published in over twenty-five languages, and he teaches full-time at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Fontaine, a modern dancer, and their three children.

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