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Putting the Creative in a Creative Nonfiction Memoir with Patrick O'Neil
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Creative nonfiction merges literary fiction (and possibly poetry), research nonfiction, and journalism. It employs the same literary devices as fiction, such as setting, voice, and character development. This is what makes it different from standard nonfiction writing, and that difference is what this course is about. We will explore the use of scenes, dialogue, character arcs, and timelines; as well as discuss the difference between actual memories, and memories clouded by fear, resentments, and the passing of time.

4-Week Online Writing Course

This course will focus on the use of literary devices in nonfiction. There will be four lectures to read, and we will discuss one topic each week. Students will submit a short work of nonfiction/memoir at the beginning of the course. Then over the next four weeks they will revisit their original submissions and revise them using instructor notes and the ideas and materials that have been presented and discussed each week. On the final week they will submit their revised manuscript.

CLASS LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Students will be encouraged to develop their own writing within the context of Creative Nonfiction Memoir. We will analyze various elements traditionally considered as craft utilized by writers of fiction. Our focus will be to learn how to incorporate those elements into our writing. The course will invite students to consider the issues raised in the process of writing memoir, aiming to uncover various methods of confronting potential problems. Through lectures and group discussions students will be provided information that they can use to analysis and revise their own writing.

Recommended Texts:

While not required reading, these memoirs successfully utilize the literary devices we will be discussing.
Liars’ Club, Mary Karr
Permanent Midnight, Jerry Stahl
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Wells
The Los Angeles Diaries, James Brown
Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson
Let’s Not Go To The Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller
Another Bullshit Night In Suck City, Nick Flynn
The Bill From My Father, Bernard Cooper

Class Schedule:

WEEK 1

Lecture: Scene/Setting: descriptive scenery and the responsibility of each scene as it pertains to the basic idea of your writing.

* Student introductory discussion, and discussion on topic of lecture.

* Students submit short work of nonfiction/memoir (no more than 5-7 pages)

WEEK 2

Lecture: Dialogue: develop an ear for actual dialogue. Minimizing “wordiness” to better express emotion. Recreating dialogue from past events, and utilizing dialect, the pro’s and con’s of grammatical gymnastics.

* Student discussion on lecture topic

* Students work on writing exercise and revising their original submission.

WEEK 3

Lecture: Character Development: through the use of description, dialogue, actions, and non-actions. How to make your characters come alive by showing, not telling. And the narrator as a character

* Student discussion on lecture topic

* Students work on writing exercise and revising their original submission.

WEEK 4

Lecture: Memory/Timeline/Structure – what to use, and what not to use, creative editing of reality, and the reliability of memory.

* Students discussion on lecture topic, and the revision process

* Students submit revised original submission of nonfiction/memoir (no page limit)

ABOUT PATRICK O'NEIL

Patrick O’Neil is the author of the memoir Gun, Needle, Spoon (Dzanc Books). His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Juxtapoz, Salon, The Nervous BreakdownAfter Party Magazine, and Razorcake. O’Neil is a contributing editor for Sensitive Skin Magazine, a Pushcart nominee, a two time nominee for Best Of The Net, and a PEN Center USA Professional and former Mentor. He holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles where he is an instructor for the inspiration2publication program. Most days you can find him teaching some form of creative writing at various rehabs, correctional facilities, institutions, and workshopsand he is the co-coordinator for the Why There Are Words, Los Angeles reading series. O’Neil currently lives in L.A.’s monument to broken dreams, the über hip downtown district, with his fiancé and two giant Maine Coons. For more information, please visit: patrick-oneil.com.

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Making Poems: Turning Thoughts, Memories, and Life Experiences into Poetry with Dana L. Stringer
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There are numerous approaches to poetry writing, and in this exciting 4-Week introductory course, designed for writers who are new to the poetry genre, students will learn the essential nuts and bolts of poetry writing in a safe and supportive online environment. The course will primarily focus on free verse poetry and introduce the use of specific poetic devices to help craft effective poems. Students will write poems prompted by writing exercises, provide peer feedback, read selected poems from contemporary poets, and participate in online discussions.

4-Week Online Writing Course

COURSE OBJECTIVES

The primary goal of this course is to introduce students to the basic elements of poetry writing, familiarize students with key terminology, help students develop their poetic voice, assist students in crafting poems and gain a solid understanding of the art and craft of poetry writing.

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER

WEEK 1

In the first week, students will learn the role of the line in poetry by exploring the various effects created with line breaks, line length, stanzas, pauses, enjambment, end-stop, and punctuation.  Students will draft their first poem, post it, and receive peer feedback.  Students will also read and discuss a selected poem.

WEEK 2

In the second week, students will learn key terminology and how to employ the use of figurative language in poetry. Emphasis will also be placed on the use of concrete and sensory details. Students will draft their second poem, post it, and receive peer feedback.  Students will also read and discuss a selected poem. 

WEEK 3

In the third week, students will explore the use of sound devices that contributes to musical qualities of poetry. Students will draft their third poem, post it, and receive peer feedback.  Students will also read and discuss a selected poem. 

WEEK 4

In the final week, we will discuss helpful tools and resources available for poetry students, including important websites, poetry readings, workshops, and essential poetry books to read.  There will be an open forum discussion where students can ask any additional questions concerning specific poetry topics.

About Dana L. Stringer:

Dana L. Stringer

About Dana L. Stringer

Dana Stringer is a poet, playwright, freelance writer and writing instructor.  She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, where she currently serves as an online instructor and instructional facilitator in the Inspiration2Publication Program.  In addition, she is an academic writing tutor for an eLearning corporation, serving colleges, universities, libraries, and school districts.  She is the author of the chapbook In Between Faith (Black Picket Fence, 2014).  Her poetry has appeared in the African American Review as well as other literary journals and anthologies.  She has also been a contributing writer for several online outlets.   In addition, Dana is a member of the Dramatists Guild and Working Title Playwrights.  Her produced plays and staged readings include:  Kinsman Redeemer, ID, The Costume Waver, Colored in Winter, Looter, Ms. Frankie Lee, Spare Change, Secret Life in a Sacred House, and Solomon’s Porch.  She is based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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From Heartache to Hard-Ons: How to Write a Potent Sex Scene with Antonia Crane
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SEX. Everyone wants it. Everyone does it. Cell phones were invented as a monument to it. As a culture, we are obsessed with it. Why are so many writers so good at writing bad sex scenes while others chicken out altogether, ending vague erotic embroilments with a wet spot, panties on the floor and a shame walk?

In this four-week course, you will not write good sex scenes—at first. You will write bad ones. After the performance anxiety is removed, we will get down to the business of what really matters the most, which is that horrible, awkward, exciting and heartbreaking truths are revealed about your characters throughout a sexual interaction. Sex scenes are important because it’s an opportunity to allow your characters to lay bare while being pushed up against their greatest fears and desires.

Great sex scenes are not about what goes where and how lubrication advances but what is revealed about your characters during the sexual encounter. In this 4-week course, you will write about desire and heartbreak like your life depends on it.

This course is designed for writers of fiction and creative non-fiction of all levels.

4-week Course

Instructor's Bio: 

 Antonia Crane is a writer, professor, and Moth Story Slam Winner in Los Angeles. She is the author of the memoir Spent (Barnacle Books/Rare Bird Lit, March, 2014). Her other work can be found in PlayboyCosmopolitan Magazine, Dame Magazine, Salon, PANK magazine, Black Clock, The Rumpus, The Weeklings, The Believer, Frequencies, Slake, The Los Angeles Review, The New Black, and lots of other anthologies. She is a co-founder and Senior CNF editor of the Antioch Alum journal The Citron Review and the CNF editor of Word Riot. She can be found running up Griffith Park mountain and here: https://antoniacrane.com. She tweets @antoniacrane.

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Mommie Brain: Document Your Parenting Journey with Rachel Schinderman
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My mom used to say, "Write it down, or you'll forget."  And in that way how moms are usually right, she was right.  If I don't write it down, I do forget, but if I do actually write it down I usually discover and remember and experience more. This is why we write. This is why we document.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Motherhood today is all encompassing.  Writing about motherhood fills every corner of the internet.  There are articles, listicles, pieces of advice, and everything in between covering every aspect of parenting, momoir as some call it; the heart of which is the personal essay. Documenting our children on the internet to scrapbooking to keeping old report cards is not new.  Exploring our own experiences as mothers though through essays and stories is. Whether you keep a memory journal, document a birth experience, or are trying to have an article published, this class will provide those tools.  This class will provide an opportunity for women to document their pregnancies as well as the experience of being a mother.

This class is designed to help capture a fleeting but important time in our lives as mothers, and to explore Momoir.  Let’s take our documenting of our kids beyond the scrapbook and let’s explore our own experiences as well.

Come exercise your Mommie Brain!

4-WEEK CLASS

CLASS OBJECTIVES:

Identify, study, and compare different essays in momoir.

Develop free writing skills.

Create a writing routine.

Compose an essay that fits into momoir.

Learn about the motherhood essay market.

What This Class Will Offer:

Week One: I’m the Kind of Mother Who…

We will explore and read a few published essays in this form, both funny and more serious. 

We start JOT DOWN TIME, free writing to capture the moments we always think we will remember as we parent but most likely won’t.  We will do this each week.

We will answer the question, “I am the kind of mother who…” to be able to get to know each other and to explore where your story may lead.

Week Two: Other Mothers

We will share essays and articles with each other in this genre that we have discovered on our own and discuss what works and maybe what doesn’t.

We continue with Jot Down Time and a free write prompt.

We will start to pin down what you will write for an essay.  What is your story?

Week Three: Because I Said So… :-)

Continuing with reading and discussing published pieces and jot down time and writing prompts, we will review the first draft of your essay.  Writing is rewriting.  What does rewriting look like?  It looks different to most people, and we will explore applying notes and edits and sitting with your work this week.  Rewriting could be a walk in the park while your child naps in the stroller or it could be the quiet in the middle of the night, which as mothers we see a lot of.

Week Four: Separation Anxiety

Motherhood can be very isolating but when you find a community of other mothers, it can provide great comfort in a trying time.  We will present our final pieces and provide notes for each other as we continue to explore and share momoir and our own writing routines.

For those who want to explore publishing in this field we will also discuss the many avenues of parenting websites and magazines.

ABOUT RACHEL SCHINDERMAN

Rachel Zients Schinderman is a writer, teacher, and mother living in Los Angeles. As a teacher, she is the creator of the writing groups for moms, Mommie Brain  (www.mommiebrain.com), which was featured in Daily Candy.  As a writer she has had her work appear in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, The Nervous Breakdown, The Manifest Station, The LA Times Magazine to name a few and had an ongoing column about parenting in The Santa Monica Daily Press also called Mommie Brain. As a mom she has two sons, ages 7 and 11. Learn more at rachelschinderman.journoportfolio.com or www.mommiebrain.com to read some of her work. She is also a regular performer in the hit show Expressing Motherhood and has placed twice in LA Parent's Moms Who Write Contest.  She has a Masters in Professional Writing from The University of Southern California and a Teaching Certificate from Antioch University, but more than all of that, she is excited by other people's stories and helping them discover them.  

Interested in this course? Let us know.

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The Phases of Military Deployment and the Poetry Within with John Holt
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Ever since the revolution of our Republic there have always been poets within the ranks of the military and family members supporting them telling our nation’s story. Soldiers, sailors, Marines, airman, and family members have written poems that capture the various deployment phase experiences that were at the center of the American nature of war. All these poems have historical value as lasting testimony of the men and women who experienced it directly and are poems that every American needs to read in order to better understand what it means to deploy.

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the Armed Forces, American involvement in War since World War II, the four phases of deployment and the war poem for students who may not have had the opportunity for a meaningful exploration.  

4-WEEK CLASS

Class Objectives:

In discussing the four phases of deployment we will be reading numerous poems to better understand what it means to deploy. At the conclusion of the course, students will demonstrate the ability to:

Recognize poets who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Identify the various war poems from World War II to Present.

Understand the four phases of deployment and examine the elements of imagery in war poems and identify the phase a poem best represents.

Connect learning to lived experience and real-life current news (veteran or military related); by writing a poem.

Course Offerings:

Week One: Military Service: The What, When, and Who

You’ll be given an overview of the branches of the Armed Forces, the American Involvement in War from World War II to Present day, and poets who served during each.

Afterwards, you will be asked to go into the world and look for these poets and poems. Choose three poems that resonated with you and tell why you choose the poet and poem, tell what happened in the poem, tell when and where the poem took place, and tell how you felt after reading it.

Week Two: Phases of Military Deployment

You’ll be given an overview of the phases of military deployment. We will discuss timeframes, what service members go through and the emotions that might arise from both the service member and family member.

You’ll become acquainted with The Awareness and Reflection of War Experience (ARWE) Model that was developed to assist readers of war poems decide which phase the poem best represents.

Afterwards, you will take the entire sample of poems posted by your classmates and using the ARWE model try to match the poems to the phase they best represents. Then you will pick four poems (one from each phase) and write one paragraph telling why you placed it in that phase.

Week Three: Imagery in War Poetry (World War II to Present Day)

You’ll be given an overview of how with the advent of technological advances in air travel and means to save lives in war, the images of war found in poems can linger much longer and can be tied to emotions that carry across several generations. You will become acquainted with the five senses and will be asked to look for and in one paragraph describe them from a sampling of poems.

Week Four: Write your own poem about War

You will be asked to take a poem that you wrote your paragraphs about, the imagery found in poems we have discussed, and our other class discussions and use them as a references to write your own poem about war.

 

ABOUT JOHN HOLT

John Holt is an author and poet. He is a 23 year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a former Associate Professor at Loyola Marymount University. He has served in multiple locations in the United States and overseas in the Pacific Region. He deployed to the Middle East from 2009 to 2010. After retiring from active duty, he moved to Los Angeles and began working with other veterans in creative writing fellowships with the University of Southern California Warrior Chorus and the Writers Guild Foundation Veterans Writing Project. Holt's writing has appeared in a short film and in the following publications: Sketchbook: A Journal for Eastern & Western Short Forms, Asahi Haikust Network, Stylus Poetry Journal, Autumn Leaves Journal, 3Lights Gallery, The Mainichi Daily News, White Lotus: A Journal of Short Asian Verse & Haiga, The Heron’s Nest, PEN HIMALAYA Literary Magazine, Magnapoets, Frogpond, The Mie Times, JAL Foundation, Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Icebox and Acorn: A Journal of Contemporary Haiku. John is a graduate of both Park and Webster Universities and is expected to graduate with a MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University in December 2017.

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Be Heard! Recording and Uploading Your Writing with Robert Morgan Fisher
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So you’ve been published and asked to do a promotional reading at a book store or on a radio show. Or maybe you’ve seen some of the new online publications/contests asking for “audio” and you’re asking: How can I get in on that? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. And in today’s publishing world, it’s very important to be able to step up and read your work—either in a live public forum or online.

2-WEEK CLASS

CLASS DESCRIPTION

In this two-week intensive, we’ll look at the rapidly-expanding world of literary audio. We’ll download and listen to podcasts, find out what sort of equipment you need (don’t worry, it’s not that expensive and very low-tech) and explore submission opportunities (contests, publications, et cetera). Plus, we’ll also learn some practical tips on how to voice your writing. And if at the end of the course, you still don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, we’ll learn about alternate methods of recording your work.

CLASS OBJECTIVES

* Study and discuss several literary audio podcasts and online audio literary journals.

* Learn how to download and use the right program and what kind of USB microphone to use.

* Learn how to convert a file to MP3.

* Learn how to create a “portable acoustically-correct studio” for less than $20.

* Demystification of the audio literary process and increased confidence in getting your own work properly recorded and out there.

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER

Over the course of two weeks, we’ll explore literary audio on the web and discuss it in detail. I’ll also direct you to resources (many of them free) that you can bookmark for when you’re ready to record your work. The syllabus provides prompts to get the discussion going—but students are encouraged to come up with their own questions and avenues of thought.

Week 1

The New Yorker Fiction Podcast, Golden Walkman Magazine and other purveyors of literary audio. (At the end of the course, students will be asked to share and discuss their favorite pieces).

* Practical list of what you’ll need to record your work and the general cost. If you feel inspired to acquire equipment, I’ll walk you through setup during week two.

Discussion: What are the advantages of voicing your own work? How do the stories affect us when read by someone other than the author?

Week 2

* The important technical sites to bookmark and programs to download.

* How to create a “portable acoustically-correct studio” for less than $20.

* How to use recording programs like Audacity; how to edit and create an MP3.

* How to troubleshoot technical problems.

* How and when to record your work at a professional studio, the advantages/disadvantages.

* How to submit to audio literary magazines/contests.

Discussion: Do you feel more confident about recording your own work? What audio pieces did you like, if any, and why? What’s your plan for jumping into the world of literary audio?

ABOUT ROBERT MORGAN FISHER

Robert Morgan Fisher’s fiction has appeared in The Arkansas ReviewRed Wheelbarrow, The Missouri Review Soundbooth Podcast, Dime Show Review,0-Dark-ThirtyThe Huffington PostPsychopompThe Seattle ReviewThe Spry Literary Journal34th ParallelThe Journal of MicroliteratureSpindrift,Bluerailroad and many other publications. He has a story in the 2016 Skyhorse Books definitive anthology on speculative war fiction, Deserts of Fire and in the forthcoming Winterwolf Press Howl of the Wild Anthology. He’s written for TV, radio and film. Robert holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and is currently on the teaching faculty of Antioch University Santa Barbara. Since 2016, Robert has led a twice-weekly writing workshop for veterans with PTSD in conjunction with UCLA. He often writes companion songs to his short stories. Both his music and fiction have won many awards. Robert also voices audiobooks. (www.robertmorganfisher.com)

Interested in this course? Let us know.

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Shaping the Queer Voice: A Collaborative, Multi-Genre Writing Class with Ken Pienkos
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Where LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans-gender, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual) Characters Intersect, Involve & Interact with Story for All Writers.

4-WEEK CLASS

CLASS DESCRIPTION

How do you define Queer Voice? This course speaks to most writers from a unique and emerging perspective. John Waters was quoted in June of 2015 to say, “Gay is not enough anymore.” Let’s ask: What do Queers have in common if they no longer share oppression?

Consider Borich’s definition of the aesthetic, “by queer aesthetic I mean not just the work of queer authors but all voices and forms that are equally open to pleasure and injury, that are not afraid of the body, that are both sex-positive and self-critical, that are as interested in intersections and critique as they are in the personal politics of memory.” Barrie Jean Borich, 2012.

These four weeks will support writers through the process of individual and specific craft prompts to explore character and situation development with their voices. We encourage an open dialogue that is not prescriptive; rather it will be supportive of a wide range of style, theme, and personality among writers who embrace “otherness.”

CLASS OBJECTIVES

Craft queer narrative with inclusion and multiple dimensions.

CLASS ACTIVITIES

Consider, talk about, and compare Queer voice in historic development and trending movements.

Speak out, experiment, and integrate characters in three-dimensional stories with weekly writing prompts and peer responses.

* Listen and respond to other writers methods for character development, setting, and structure.

* Complete a full cycle of draft, collaborative critical analysis, and revision of one original work over the four weeks.


Each week there will be a lecture, a discussion forum, a writing assignment, and optional extra reading material. Instructor will give detailed feedback on the first assignment and works with participant to revise and edit that assignment for a final draft.

ABOUT KEN PIENKOS

Ken lives in Los Angeles with his dog Scooter and his husband, James. He holds a BS and MS in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Antioch University Los Angeles MFA in Creative Writing Program and works at Antioch University as Reference & Instruction Librarian.Recent Publications and Spoken Word Performances include: Arts & Letters Literary Magazine, Rose Red Review (pending), Queerwise: Beloved Fictions, HIV Here & Now, SoloMojo and Shades of Disclosure On Stage at Skylight Theatre.

More at Ken's web-site: 

www.kenpienkos.com

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Spanner, Slammer, Socket: Building a Poet’s Toolbox with Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
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In this four-week course, those new to poetry will be introduced to essential craft tools and be given plenty of exercises for building new work with added guidance for tightening what materializes on the page. We will be paying special attention to figurative language, imagery, sound, line and word choice, as the building blocks to creating fresh and compelling poetry.

Are you unsure how to create a metaphor? Are the differences between assonance, consonance and alliteration unclear? No worries! In this class you will learn core poetry terms and have time to practice wielding each one. And through practice you will begin to discover which tools best serve your individual style and voice.

This course is designed for novice poets looking to build a base for their work and for prose writers looking to incorporate poetry elements into their work.

4-WEEK WRITING CLASS

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

Identify poetry terms with attention to figurative language, sound, imagery, and line

Practice learned poetry elements by writing new work each week

Share work with peers for feedback, while providing feedback to others

Revise a poem created within the class to further understand how to craft a poem

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER:

In Week 1 we will learn to identify and practice figurative language

In Week 2 we will learn to identify and practice imagery

In Week 3 we will learn to identify and practice sound

In Week 4 we will tighten our poems through revision paying attention to line and word choice

LEARNING ACTIVITIES:

Read Poetry:Each week students will read contemporary poems for examples of mastery of particular tools and discuss the reading with peers in an online forum

Writing exercises: Students will use weekly readings as jumping off points for writing exercises and experimentations

Workshop: Students will post their poems in the online forum for peer feedback and give feedback on other’s work.

Revision: Students will be encouraged to process peer and professor feedback in order to use the most helpful notes to craft one final, polished piece of poetry.

ABOUT XOCHITL-JULISA BERMEJO: 

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is the author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (Sundress Publications 2016), a 2016-2017 Steinbeck Fellow, former Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange winner and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grantee. She’s received residencies from Hedgebrook and Ragdale Foundation and is a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop. Her poetry is published in American Poetry Review, CALYX, crazyhorse, and Tahoma Literary Review among others. A short dramatization of her poem "Our Lady of the Water Gallons," directed by Jesús Salvador Treviño, can be viewed at latinopia.com. She is a cofounder of Women Who Submit and the curator of HITCHED.  

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