Class Listings

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An Open Shutter: Writing Scenes in Prose

Instructor: Ellie Bryant | Type: Prose, Half-day

Saturday, May 24 | 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

We live in an age of images. Most of us would rather have “Face Time” on our smart phones and iPads than speak to a disembodied voice on the telephone. We like to see pictures and videos of our friends on Facebook. I’m a fan of Pinterest, which presents images of favorite books, artists, and styles. We’re used to visuals and less patient for the abstract. In our creative writing, all too often what’s missing is a scene that triggers visuals in the reader’s imagination. Like a Hollywood film, a dramatic scene has set, location, details, action, characters, and dialogue. Whether you write fiction, memoir, or literary journalism, scenes have more impact than expositions or summaries. Scenes give the reader a private vision with a strong voice that carries an underlying honesty. This class will look at examples of effective scenes in the writing of James Agee, John McPhee and others and will offer techniques for crafting scenes in your own work. Participants should be prepared to put pen to paper.

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The Whole Poem

Instructor: Neil Shepard | Type: Poetry, 6 weeks

June 3, 10, (no class 17), 24 and July 1, 8, 15 | Tuesdays, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

From first draft to final draft, we require strategies for seeing the whole poem, both its full potential for content and its most satisfying form. We require, as Charles Olson said, the intense perception of the first draft – to “see” not only the spark but all of the light that makes a poem glow. Then we need to “re-see” the poem, practicing the kind of deep revision that leads us to reconsider everything from word choice and vivid image to metaphoric subtext, grammatical pattern, and inner music of the poem. We’ll use poems from literary magazines to examine specific technical issues, but we’ll use your own poems as the focus and force of workshop discussion. In addition, we’ll consider writing exercises that might steer you toward new strategies and discoveries in making a poem.

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