Conference Workshops


When registering for the conference, please state the workshop you will take, or tell us if you are not going to be taking one at all. Space is limited. Register at this link.


SATURDAY, JULY 22, 9AM–12:30pm


Re-imagining Other Worlds Through a Political Lens

Instructor: Helena María Viramontes


Imagination is political. Iris Murdoch described it as “a spontaneous intuitive capacity” to form an experience “intellectually ordered and sensuously based.” In this workshop, we will experiment with different angles on fiction writing to challenge and widen our perceptions, our empathy, and, ultimately, our reality. We will discuss various components of imagination and try our hand at expanding our repertoire of points-of-view, story structure, and sources for our fiction to create compelling stories based on a diverse range of lived experience.


Democratic Vistas: Poetry-Making Now

Instructor: Patricia Spears-Jones


Walt Whitman said that democracy is the job of the poet. As Patricia Spears-Jones declares, “We got the words” and, as poets, words are what we need as we deal with the challenges of our times. In this workshop, we will look at divergent, even luxuriant, ways to consider poetry-making: how can it remain intimate and intricate while so much is going on around us? what feels right for us as poets and writers? what is most troubling us? We will combine reflection with the creation of new work and spark ideas for future poems. We’ll have some allies on this journey: Allison Hedge Coke, June Jordan, Ron Padgett, Gregory Pardlo and Marilyn Chin.

Suggested: Please read Whitman’s “Democratic Vistas” before we meet.


Memoir as Interior Renovation

Instructor: Brian Turner


In this intensive workshop, we’ll offer critique and feedback on the memoir you’ve begun, and discover ways to expand and explore the work you’ve already created. With a literary tool belt and an eye toward renovation, we’ll knock out some of the walls, put in skylights, and revamp the inner corridors so that all of the rooms interconnect with one another.

Required: You must turn in 10-20 pages of a memoir-in-progress prior to the course so that Mr Turner has time to fully read your writing sample. The absolute deadline for submission of memoir samples is July 15, but early submission is encouraged.

Please submit at this link:


Fiction, Screenwriting 9:30-1pm

Creating Memorable, Three-Dimensional Characters

Instructor: Marilyn Atlas


How do you bring memorable, three-dimensional characters to life enough to make them feel like real people? In this open-genre workshop, we will view and analyze movie/TV scenes to see what makes the characters unforgettable, and study non-stereotypical characters to see what we can learn from them. We will examine the power of subtext: how to embed details of motivation—thoughts, goals, secrets, flaws, delusions—into physical behavior, speech patterns and habits that echo throughout your story. Come to class with your most important characters in mind, and leave with a better understanding about how to bring them to life.


Poetry 9-12:30pm

The Poet As Witness: Writing to Inhabit the World

Instructor: Octavio Quintanilla


How can we write poems that make vital connections between the self and the world? Must we personally be subjected to extreme conditions, such as war, imprisonment or torture, to feel strongly about suffering and write about it. “Our link to the suffering of others is that we care about it,” wrote Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux, “and what we care about we tend to put into our writing.” In this generative workshop, we will consider issues that matter to us most. By studying ways in which poets have borne witness to suffering, we will write our way out of the dark.


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