One Day Writing Workshop: Crafting Compelling Characters with Dawnie Walton
Date: Wednesday, April 5th
Time: 6:00PM-9:00PM ET
Location: Online via Zoom
Making up people can be a tricky business. Write them too wild and they become unbelievable; hew them too close to real human behavior and speech patterns and they’re in danger of coming off boring. So what’s the proper balance to strike, to both convince and surprise? How do writers build characters their readers will root for (or sometimes against)? What are round and flat characters, and how can each be useful to your storytelling? And what exactly is meant by an adage you’ve probably heard a time or two, “Plot is character”? In this class, we’ll do close readings from contemporary literature featuring fictional people who leap off the page (or at least make a strong impression from the start). We’ll study four core methods writers use to develop three-dimensional characters, and devote time to exercises and discussion to help you interrogate your own.
Dawnie Walton is the author of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, winner of the 2022 Aspen Words Literary Prize, the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award, the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and the Audie Award for Fiction. Her debut novel was also longlisted for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction, and was named one of the best books of 2021 by The Washington Post, NPR, Esquire, and former U.S. President Barack Obama. She is the cofounder and editorial director of Ursa, an audio production company celebrating short fiction from underrepresented voices, and is the cohost of its accompanying podcast. Formerly an editor at Essence and Entertainment Weekly, she has received fellowships from MacDowell and Tin House, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (where she has taught a fiction seminar). Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
Humor Writing Workshop with Damon Young
Dates: March 14, 21, 28, and April 4
Time: 8:30 - 10:00PM ET
Location: Online via Zoom
Everyone appreciates a funny story. Some of us can even tell one. But how do you write one? What makes a written story or essay funny? What are the rules of rhythms of writing humor? When is a laugh, embedded in an essay, appropriate, and who makes that judgment? How do you prepare and prime your audience for satire? What’s the difference between humor as a crutch, and humor as a heat-seeking cruise missile?
Damon Young, author of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker - winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor - will answer these questions and more, during a four session seminar on how to be almost as funny as he is.
Damon Young is the author of “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays”—a tragicomic exploration of the angsts, anxieties, and absurdities of existing while Black in America—winner of Thurber Prize for American Humor and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award.
He is also the co-founder of the culture blog VerySmartBrothas and was a contributing columnist for The Washington Post Magazine, a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and a columnist for GQ. He has written for the Atlantic, Esquire, NY Mag, The Undefeated, Lit Hub, Ebony, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Currently, Damon is the creator and host of a podcast with Crooked Media, “Stuck with Damon Young.”
Poetry Workshop with Billy Collins
Date: September 9th
Location: Art Barn Painting Studio
Maximum 10 people
Join us for a special morning of poetry and discussion with former U.S. Poet Laureate Bill Collins at Featherstone on Friday, September 9th. Each participant will submit one poem in advance which will be read during the workshop for critique.
Billy Collins is the author of thirteen books of poetry including Whale Day, The Rain in Portugal, Aimless Love, Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, and Picnic, Lightning. Questions About Angels was selected by Edward Hirsch for the National Poetry Series. Musical Tables will be published later this year. He has edited three anthologies: Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, and Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems about Birds. Collins' poetry has appeared in many periodicals including Poetry, The American Scholar, Harper's, The Paris Review, and The New Yorker. His work appears regularly in The Best American Poetry. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He was chosen by the New York Public Library to be a "Literary Lion." A graduate of Holy Cross College, he received his doctorate from the University of California at Riverside. He is a former Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College (CUNY). He served two terms as United States Poet Laureate (2001-2003) and as New York State Poet (2004-2006). He is a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Two Day Writing Workshop with Emily Bernard
Writing the Self through Others: The Ethics of First-Person Narrative
Date: Tuesday & Wednesday August 2 & 3
Time: 4:00PM-5:30PM each day
Location: Art Barn Library
What do your friends and family think about your writing? Is it possible to write about people you care about without offending or hurting them? How can I tell the stories I need to tell without sacrificing my relationships? In my experience, these questions represent the most common concerns of writers at the beginning of the personal essay journey. In this workshop, we will confront these questions head on, discussing various approaches employed by nonfiction writers. Ultimately, though, this workshop is designed so that participants have a chance to compose their own positions on these questions. As writers of first-person narrative, we must be certain of our project, and that includes its ethical dimensions. Short readings, prompts, and exercises will enable us to explore fully the moral heart of the work that we do. Above all, this workshop is a “judgment free zone” where openness, honesty, and a delight in creative wildness are the only requirements.
Emily Bernard is the author of Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother's Time, and Mine, which was named one of the best books of 2019 by Kirkus Reviews and National Public Radio and received the 2020 LA Times Christopher Isherwood Prize for autobiographical prose. Her essays have been reprinted in Best American Essays, Best African American Essays, and Best of Creative Nonfiction. A 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow, Emily is the Julian Lindsay Green and Gold Professor of English and a 2022-2023 Social Sciences, Humanities, and Creative Arts University Scholar at the University of Vermont.