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Feasting on Form: Noodling around with Experimental Creative Nonfiction with Arielle Silver
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Feasting on Form: Noodling around with Experimental Creative Nonfiction

Exploring structural inspiration for sensory writing:

From holiday feasting to grocery shopping, every bite-sized moment is ripe for narrative discovery. What’s in your pantry? What’s not being eaten? The sensory experience of simply squeaking a utensil drawer open can trigger inspiration, but how can we scoop it up? 

Constraints foster creativity. Think croissants, croutons, and loaves of challah: they’re all flour. Like a baker’s set of cake pans, here we’ll explore creative inspiration in the menu and the mess, and serve it up by way of experimental, hybrid, lyric essay.

4-WEEK WRITING COURSE

CLASS OBJECTIVES

* Discover creative inspiration within the common minutia and fodder of everyday life.

* Study and discuss the ways in which the assigned short pieces utilize found forms.

* Explore structural constraints to generate new material with imagery and other sensory detail.

* Write and revise short pieces of creative nonfiction that incorporate structure concepts inspired by the work we’ve read in class.

* Connect with other writers by reading their work and offering feedback.

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is a 4-week exploratory, generative writing course. Each week we will read short non-traditional essays inspired by found forms, generate three first drafts of new writing inspired by the form, and enjoy lively discussion in our classroom forum about the assigned readings and each other’s original drafts. The syllabus provides prompts to get the discussion going—but students are encouraged to come up with their own questions and food for thought.

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER

Week 1: Menu

We will begin with a brief tutorial on lyric essay and read the first short non-traditional piece. We will discuss the use of structure, and draft an original piece inspired by this form, due by Monday of Week 2.

Week 2: Recipe

In Week 2, we will read each other’s Week 1: Menu drafts and offer reflective feedback. Additionally, we will read and discuss a new non-traditional piece in a different format, and draft a new original work inspired by this form, due by Monday of Week 3.

Week 3: Feast

As before, in Week 3 we will read each other’s Week 2: Recipe drafts and offer reflective feedback. Additionally, we will read and discuss a new non-traditional piece in a different format, and draft a new original work inspired by this form, due by Monday of Week 4.

Week 4: After Dinner

In this final week, we will read each other’s Week 3: Feast drafts and offer reflective feedback. As before, we will read and discuss a final non-traditional piece in a new format. During the week, there is the option to generate another first draft of new original work inspired by this form or to submit a revision of writing from the Menu, Recipe, and Feast weeks for group discussion and/or instructor feedback.

ABOUT ARIELLE SILVER

Arielle Silver spends half her life hunting words, the rest singing and baking pies. And though she shivered through many Boston winters, the wind was blowing west, and her last music tour ended at the cliffs above El Matador beach on a night when the Pacific shimmered under a full moon. Since, her original music has been licensed internationally for film and television, and her essays have appeared in Literary Hub, Brevity, Gulf Stream, Moment, Lilith Magazine, and others. She is former editor-in-chief of Lunch Ticket and earned her MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles, where she now teaches in the MFA, BA, and Inspiration2publication programs. She is currently at work on a memoir about (step)mother/ing and a secret project inspired by the creative process. She is the co-creator of Create & Flow Retreats and lives in Los Angeles with her sweet & snarky family. www.ariellesilver.com @relsilver

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SUBMIT! How to get your work out there with Kate Maruyama
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Every time we run this class, students get published!

You can write and write and get better, but unless you submit your work widely, it might never meet its readers. Submitting your work takes courage, persistence and knowhow. So many people give up after one or two rejections. Learn how to effectively submit your fiction, non-fiction, poetry and articles to literary journals, online journals and other publications.

2-Week Class

CLASS DESCRIPTION

In a two week intensive course, I’ll walk you through the submission process for fiction, non-fiction and poetry, from scouting websites and journals to how to get over yourself, move past the rejection process and use submission for what it is: just another everyday part of the business.

CLASS OBJECTIVES

*Learn the ins and outs of literary journals, what they look for and how they work

*Create your own list of journals or publications open to your kind of work

*Submit a piece (or several pieces) of your work at least five places

*Obtain the tools to keep submitting on your own well into the future

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER

Week One: The Lay of the Land

We’ll discuss what’s out there publication-wise: the ins and outs of various types of journals and various types of submissions and we’ll create a plan for what you want from your work as you send it out in the world.

You’ll become acquainted with Duotrope, which will help you navigate the world of literary journals and will help you in your submission plan. (note this service costs $5.00 to be paid to DuoTrope) You will also learn how to keep track of where you submit your work and how to gauge editors’ responses.

Week Two: Submit!

I’ll walk you through query letters, submission letters, how to approach editors and how to see the positive in rejections. You’ll submit at least five places and finish class armed with the tools and knowledge to keep getting your work out there as you forge forward in your writing career.

ABOUT KATE MARUYAMA

Kate Maruyama's novel HARROWGATE was published by 47North. Her short work has appeared in Arcadia, Stoneboat, Whistling Shade and on Salon, Duende, The Rumpus among other journals as well as in two anthologies: Winter Horror Days and Phantasma: Stories. She teaches in the BA and MFA programs for Antioch University Los Angeles as well as for Writing Workshops Los Angeles and the inspiration2publication program. She writes, teaches, cooks and eats in Los Angeles where she lives with her family.

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Writing the Community: Write to Effect Change! with Precious Rasheeda Muhammad
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"I'm interested in the way in which the past affects the present and I think that if we understand a good deal more about history, we automatically understand a great more about contemporary life."  —Toni Morrison

Explore what it means to write the community as a means of effecting change. We will study successful authors' stylistic approaches to writing for the community. We’ll examine how figures in our local communities have valuable stories that too often go untold, simply because they do not have national acclaim. We will learn creative approaches to documenting and sharing the stories of these people and how this is an effective means to “building community through history” across seemingly intractable divides. 

4-WEEK COURSE

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

Articulate ideas about approaches to writing as a means to effect change in the community

Compose a short piece to submit for publication or donation to a local community organization or institution, for benefit of the greater community

Receive and give constructive feedback, as a trial run for engagement with larger audiences and engagement with the work of other authors

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER:

Week One: Got Character?

We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned creative writing pieces, the key role effective characterization can play in writing the community. We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned related texts, writing the community and writing to effect change. We will each draft an original piece based on what we learned in week one.

Week Two: Do You See What I See?

We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned creative writing pieces, the key role effective imagery can play in writing the community. We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned related texts, writing the community and writing to effect change. We will explore and discuss, through a brief tutorial, how to give and receive constructive feedback. We will read and discuss week one’s original piece and each draft a new original piece (or take the option to build on the previous week’s piece) based on what we learned in week two.

Week Three: Make a Scene! 

We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned creative writing pieces, the key role effective dialogue and balancing of scene versus summary can play in writing the community. We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned related texts, writing the community and writing to effect change. We will read and discuss week two’s original piece and each draft an original piece (or take the option to build on the previous week’s piece) based on what we learned in week three.

Week Four: It's a Wrap (Up)! 

We will read and discuss week three’s piece. We will each pick one of the submitted pieces from the past three weeks to revise and polish into a final piece. We will receive one last round of feedback from each other. We will discuss submission or donation options of the final piece.

ABOUT PRECIOUS RASHEEDA MUHAMMAD

Precious received her MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California Riverside, Palm Desert in 2016. She received her Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University. She is an author, lecturer, and researcher on religion in America, among other topics, and is known by many as “The History Detective.” She lives in Virginia with her family but travels frequently for research projects and speaking engagements. Her motto: “building community through history.” Her favorite craft-related, self-motivational saying: “write mama write.”

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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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Rub a Little Funny on It: Humor in Short Fiction with Robert Morgan Fisher
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We writers take ourselves SO seriously. But guess what? Even dramatic writing requires nuanced humor. Some say “Humor is a natural gift—it can’t be taught.” WRONG. It’s a process—just like anything else! But one has to learn how to use certain tools as well as study writers and stories that successfully employ humor. FACT: When forced to choose between two equally good stories—editors will go with the one that makes them smile every time.

CLASS DESCRIPTION

Even the most dramatic narratives have elements of humor. One might say they require it. Under the most desperate, dramatic circumstances there is always humor lurking. It’s often the only thing that can get us through. Where would a tragic novel like Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest be without McMurphy’s boisterous, ribald humor? In Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal’s depraved sense of humor charms us against our will, giving this complicated villain immeasurable depth. By studying and discussing a variety of select short stories (both dramatic and funny), we will explore how to infuse your writing with whatever humor is required to make the story irresistible. Oh—and did I mention? We’re going to laugh. A LOT! 

CLASS OBJECTIVES

* Study and discuss the ways in which the assigned short stories utilize humor.

* Learn practical techniques for injecting humor into your story organically.

* Explore how humor can be an integral part of even the most serious, dramatic fiction.

* Conceptualize and write a short story of your own (or revise/analyze an existing piece of yours) that incorporates humor using the tools we’ve learned in class.

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER

Week 1

You will begin with a short tutorial on humor and the first assigned, very short funny stories. You will discuss the most effective humor elements, and how POV affects the humor in each story.

Week 2

You will read and discuss assigned stories and start writing (or rewriting) your own short story.

Week 3

You will read and discuss assigned stories and continue working on your short story.

Week 4

You will read and discuss assigned stories. You will also submit the piece you’ve been working on. The instructor will get back to each student with individual notes and answer any follow-up questions.

Learning Activities: Each week we’ll read a pair of stories and discuss them in detail. The syllabus provides prompts to get the discussion going—but students are encouraged to come up with their own questions and avenues of thought.

ABOUT ROBERT MORGAN FISHER

 

Robert Morgan Fisher

Robert Morgan Fisher’s fiction has appeared in The Arkansas ReviewRed Wheelbarrow, The Missouri Review Soundbooth Podcast, Dime Show Review0-Dark-ThirtyThe Huffington PostPsychopompThe Seattle ReviewThe Spry Literary Journal34th ParallelThe Journal of MicroliteratureSpindriftBluerailroad and many other publications. He has a story in the 2016 Skyhorse Books definitive anthology on speculative war fiction, Deserts of Fire. He’s written for TV, radio and film. Robert holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, where he works as a Book Coach and Writing Specialist. He also develops courses and teaches for Antioch’s online I2P Program and runs a 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)

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Writing Poetry for Social Change with Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
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2016 may go down as the most painful and heartbreaking year of our shared lives. We witnessed Philando Castile die at the hands of a police officer in real time on our Facebook feeds, we listened to Christine Leinonen, mother of Christopher Leinonen, plea to know her son’s whereabouts after a gunman went into Pulse dance club and murdered 49 people, we watched Native Americans be pummeled with water hoses in freezing temperatures, and we cringed at the rise of a power hungry man bent on spewing a message of hate and fear with a wall at its epicenter only to see that same man win the presidential election to our horror. In response to World War II, George Orwell once said, “One ought to recognize that present political chaos is connected with the decay of language.” Through a survey of witness and social justice poetry, we will attempt to build up language once again and encourage poets and non-poets to imagine and fight for our world with small offerings of hope.

Join me in this writing workshop to learn strategies for taking rage, fear, and heartbreak and turn them into pieces of art that may hold the power to spark change.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

·      To read and analyze social justice and witness poetry in order to gain a language and understanding of the genre

·      To gain and practice strategies for entering a difficult social subject matter in order to generate new works of poetry

·      To gain and practice strategies for hooking an audience into a piece of writing focused on a difficult social subject matter

·      To walk away with a finished piece of writing that can be submitted to current resistance and social justice calls

·      To obtain tools and ideas for using social media for spreading writing and awareness for social justice issues

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER

Week One: Facing the Difficult

 

How do you write about a social justice issue that is difficult, and perhaps even physically painful, to look at? This week we will read pieces by Juan Felipe Herrera, Claudia Rankine, and Ashaki M. Jackson looking for strategies to trick the mind into writing about a difficult topic. We will write new pieces using at least one strategy from the readings.   

 

Week Two: Hooking an Audience

How do you get an audience to read a piece about a social justice issue that is difficult to look at or spend time with? This week we will read pieces by Martin Espada, Carolyn Forche, and Javier Zamora looking for strategies to hook the reader. We will write new pieces using at least one strategy from the readings. 

Week Three: Working the Writing

Everyone will submit one piece to be workshopped by the group with the objective of revising the piece based off feedback for the following week. 

Week Four: Finding a Home

We will survey current open calls for social justice and resistant pieces as well as look at ongoing social media campaigns such as Poets Responding to SB1070 and #blackpoetsspeakout in order to find possible places to submit or post new work generated in the workshop.  

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.  

COURSE POLICIES

Students are asked to stay professional and thoughtful within this online forum. Offensive language and/or personal attacks will not be allowed as they are not conducive to the learning environment.

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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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